If you knew that your life depended on saving the environment, what would you do differently?
Today’s episode—the second to last of our very first season!—may change the way you think about environmental issues and your place in this world.
I’m speaking with Maia Wikler, who is an impressive force for climate advocacy and environmental justice. Maia is a PhD student in Political Ecology, a climate justice organizer and journalist for outlets such as Teen Vogue and VICE—so, you know, total underachiever!
Her work focuses on the intersections of climate justice and Indigenous knowledge and she’s really changed the way I view both the immediacy of the climate crisis—because it is very much a crisis—and my role as a person on this planet. We talk about her time at the Fairy Creek blockade as well as how her childhood health issues created the awareness that what happens in our environment affects us directly.
About Maia Wikler:
Maia Wikler is a PhD student in Political Ecology, a climate justice organizer, and journalist. Her most recent work appears in Teen Vogue and VICE. In June 2019, as a member of The North Face New Explorers Arctic Expedition, Maia reported from the Arctic Refuge on the climate crisis. She is directing a short documentary film for The North Face in the Arctic on the intergenerational, women-led fight to protect the Arctic Refuge. Maia was recently selected as a National Geographic Early Career Explorer 2020 to document cross-border salmon stories and raise awareness about the threats to wild salmon from mining in Northern British Columbia.
Her PhD research focuses on memory as a tool of resistance and resilience in the face of corporate abuse, specifically related to deforestation and the climate crisis. The progression of her academic work—and her work as a writer, filmmaker, and community organizer—has compelled her toward focusing on the intersections of climate justice and wielding storytelling as a tool for justice.
On this episode we chat about:
- The importance of access to nature on our health—and why we need to fight for it
- How early health challenges led Maia to understand how the health of the environment affects us personally
- The fallacy of individualism. We’re not separate from our environment or each other
- Why it actually matters that we understand how ecosystems work
- The intersections of food security and sovereignty in the North. “They’re just SO inextricable from oil and gas drilling impacts on the Arctic”
- The Indigenous Elders who informed and shaped Maia’s experience of Alaska
- How Fairy Creek, while local in scale, is global in what it represents: the extreme scarcity of old growth, intact, ancient rainforest in Canada
- The value of contextualizing an expedition with the stories of the land—and how orienting that is for researchers
- The shocking truth about the forestry industry’s carbon emissions
- How violent “road building” is on both the land and the local Indigenous communities
- How politics affects biodiversity and corporate abuse in BC forests
- Campaigns of misinformation “greenwashing”
Learned something new? Have questions?
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Connect with Maia:
Maia’s essays are featured in the book, No Planet B, and she has a chapter titled When the Salmon Spoke: A Community-led, Storied Resistance and Resilience to Colonial Violence in the forthcoming Book Business Storytelling and Postcolonialism.
Finding the Mother Tree by Suzanne Simard
Gathering Moss by Robin Wall Kimmerer
More climate activists to follow: