Last week was a whirlwind of information. Of networking. Of running with ideas in my head to see if they could make a compelling story. Mostly, it was inspirational.
I returned home from the Society of Environmental Journalists’ annual conference last night. Held in Boise, ID the theme was Crossing the Divide — Urban Growth and the Wild. I attended many plenary sessions about ways to become a stronger environmental reporter. I met dozens of people doing similar work and exchanged contacts with several key sources. Needless to say, my network has grown and I am excited to hit the ground on some projects.
The first day I spent learning about covering biodiversity. For me, this was never something I covered or included in my storytelling. However, after this talk with some amazing panelists, I can say that biodiversity, similar to climate change, belongs in nearly every story.
The trick will be how to get biodiversity into a story about cycling. Or public transportation?
The second day set off my personal theme for the conference, wildfire. I spent the day on a field trip exploring how we can live with fire. Wildfire is here to stay, finally, and there is a massive amount of work needed to be done in order to get the landscape back to where it was before humans stupidly removed fire.
This outing was packed with key people in the USFS who are managing the so-called ‘wildfire crisis’ as well as journalists who have long covered western wildfires. We explored a recent fire and heard from locals who had to contend with evacuations from the 2022 Four Corners Fire, in central Idaho. The highlight for me was touring the National Interagency Fire Center. The Pentagon of wildfire management.
Day three and four I attended small panel talks about various issues, mostly wildfire-related. I networked and met other visual journalists. I got to catch up with a friend who moved to Boise a few years ago.
Now that I am back home and in gear for the daily grind, I’ve got a few stories I am working on about how money from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act is going to address the wildfire crisis.