By Alison Znamierowski, Regular ContributorDecember 28, 2015
Kate Weiner, recipient of the Brower Youth Award and co-founder of the environmental arts magazine, Loam, and the feminist online publication, Shapes We Make, is here to tell us how she cultivated these interests and turned them into collaborative, creative, inspirational projects. She beautifully reminds us to stay “grateful, curious, and compassionate,” and to always trust that we already have the tools to ground and create the content of our imaginations.
So, what initially sparked your passion for environmental arts?
I’ve always loved to be outside and to write, draw, and dance. When you are passionate about something, it isn’t a choice —it just is! For me, time spent nurturing and being nourished by nature just is.
Was there a moment when what drives you within environmental activism “clicked” for you?
I am a really porous person. When I first started learning about climate change in high school, apocalyptic conversations about the environment didn't mobilize me to change; it only made me feel helpless.
My parents saw how often I came home from school defeated and challenged me to truly examine whether anxiety was making me a more compassionate and empowered environmental steward (it wasn’t.) I can only “do,” I realized, from a place of hope.
Having hope isn’t naive. Having hope is brave.
Every day, I am driven by a deep sense of gratitude for the world I am a part of and a fierce desire to conserve the ecosystems that I am in. So the pivotal moment when it “clicked” for me was when I made the decision to actively embody hope — to do and not to fear.
How did Loam come about?
Throughout college, I worked as a Sustainability Intern. Our department’s main challenge was to find ways to make big picture messages — about food waste on campus and energy usage in particular — stick.
I saw Loam as an opportunity to create a space for students to connect with the environment through art. Although statistics and science are important conduits for conveying information, not everyone resonates with this tact. Loam really came into fruition when I connected with awesome activists working on campus and in the broader community to truly push what it means to meld creativity and sustainability.
Since graduation, my friend Nicole Stanton and I have worked hard to turn Loam into a vibrant community for environmental activism. We publish a quarterly magazine and organize events. We meet with and work for some of the most amazing people. We are constantly learning and growing and collaborating.
What's your favorite part of what you do?
I love to learn from and connect with new people. When I lived in Portland, I used to walk by this magical nursery every day. You know how sometimes you enter into a space that just speaks to your heart? This little jewel of a garden store spoke to my heart.
I wanted to learn more about how I could cultivate such a nurturing environment in my own corner of the universe.
Because of Loam, I am now able to see the people and places that speak to my heart as fertile sites for collaboration. I do so much more--as an environmental activist and as an artist-- because I feel empowered to ask questions and to pursue connections.
What's your vision for Loam?
I love that Loam has grown into a platform for nourishing the kind of collaborations that couldn’t exist elsewhere. I want to continue to publish magazines that illuminate awesome activists. I want to produce a cookbook in collaboration with the super cool chefs and farmers I've met. I want to host a zero-waste music and arts festival that brings together our growing community.
Do you have advice for anyone who is trying to pursue environmentalism?
You already have all the skills you need to get started on something beautiful. Really and truly. Trust that whatever it is that makes you tick—music, dance, farming, food—can be a powerful catalyst for environmental change. Respect what motives you and be receptive to what's around you.
And always remember that there is nothing good that we do alone. Work with people who inspire you and who challenge you. Be grateful. Be curious. Be compassionate.
*interview by Alison Znamierowski
Alison Znamierowski graduated from Wesleyan University with a B.A. in Sociology. Her favorite activities include picnicking with friends, barefoot wandering, and engaging with spontaneous impulses for adventure. Her little corner of the interweb universe is here: nowastespace.org.
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