We know that everything is connected, and because of that, every action has a reaction. We asked Leah Thomas, a celebrated environmentalist, to share how her passion for writing and creativity transformed into founding and launching Intersectional Environmentalist, a resource hub and platform that advocates for environmental justice, provides resources, and promotes inclusivity and accessibility within environmental education and movements. The organization started only last year but already has more than 380,000 Instagram followers. It coined the term “eco-communicator,” and its ever-growing team continues to expand on the importance and power of multifaceted efforts for advocacy to create lasting impact.
Leah, share with our readers the story of the birth of Intersectional Environmentalist and how you brought it to life on social media.
During the summer of 2020, there was a lot of awareness about racial justice during the Black Lives Matter movement, and I noticed a lack of conversation in environmental spaces. I wanted to help make the connection between race and the environment clearer for environmentalists who were not as familiar with racial justice, and I began posting on social media about intersectional theory, climate justice, and intersectional environmentalism. A lot of people started to reach out for even more resources, so I started Intersectional Environmentalist (IE) with a few friends virtually, and we started to grow really quickly!
How does Instagram work as a main platform, supporting and connecting IE’s followers as well as teaching others why its work is important?
We want this information to be as accessible as possible and meet people where they’re at. There are also a lot of online creators making educational content on TikTok and social media who could use more amplification—we try to share their work so a larger audience will see it. We also compile our own research into digestible posts. I do realize there are limitations to social media, but it can be a great entry point.
Tell us about something that happened due to your advocacy and has impacted environment preservation within the states.
It’s great to hear more environmental agencies prioritize racial justice now! This is due to years of work from so many environmental justice advocates, and I’m happy to have played a very small role.
Why a book and why now? And what are you most eager to share with readers of The Intersectional Environmentalist when it’s published next March?
I’ve been writing since 2014. It’s been a great outlet for me and a way for me to find my voice. I’ve always been interested in writing a book, and for my first, I wanted to start with a resource that I wanted when I was studying environmental science. It’s a supplementary guide that makes the case for the urgency of climate justice and also helps open people’s eyes to the environmental justice movement. I hope other students of color in the environmental space feel seen with this book and that it encourages allies to become more inclusive environmentalists in the future.
Leah Thomas is a celebrated environmentalist based in Santa Barbara. Coining the term “eco-communicator” to describe her style of environmental activism, Leah uses her passion for writing and creativity to explore and advocate for the critical yet often overlooked relationship between social justice and environmentalism. Leah founded and launched Intersectional Environmentalist in 2020. To learn more, please visit intersectionalenvironmentalist.com
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