- The Social Beast: On the anti-totalitarian Simone Weil (The Baffler, April 14, 2021). What Weil meant by the word totalitarian—whether referring to the Roman Catholic Church, Nazism and Stalinism, or the tendencies of political parties and organizations in general—still hangs over us all.
- How a Climate-Justice Champion Won Office in Rural, Working-Class Maine (The Nation, February 16, 2021). An interview with Maine State Senator Chloe Maxmin, a 28-year-old progressive activist who unseated the GOP minority leader in November.
- Solidarity Now (The Baffler, January-February, 2021). “Every so often, I meet someone whose voice I can’t get out of my head. What if I listened to them, really listened?” An experiment in oral history of the present.
a bit about me…
I’m a journalist, essayist, and … how shall we say? … engaged citizen, and I’m the author of What We’re Fighting for Now Is Each Other: Dispatches From the Front Lines of Climate Justice (Beacon, 2015), about my journey into the US climate movement during the pivotal years from 2010 to 2015. These days I contribute mostly to The Nation, The Baffler, and Los Angeles Review of Books, and over the years, in addition to being an editor at The Atlantic and The Boston Globe, I’ve written for many other publications, including The Atlantic, Slate, The New York Times Book Review, The Boston Globe, The American Prospect, The Boston Phoenix, Grist, and the literary journal AGNI, among other places.
In what now seems like a previous life, I took a leave of absence from the English PhD program at the University of Chicago in 1994 and somehow became an editor at The Atlantic, where I co-created TheAtlantic.com and served as its editorial director from 1996 to 2001, earning three National Magazine Award nominations for general excellence and helping invent a model of web-only magazine journalism still in use today. Later, after a tour of duty at PBS Frontline from 9/11 to the early Iraq War period, I became deputy editor and then editor of the Sunday Boston Globe Ideas section in its influential early years, from 2004 to 2007. I even dabbled in radio, when I was hired away to be the senior/managing producer of NPR’s On Point at WBUR in Boston (2007-2010).
In 2010, after leaving WBUR (burnt to a crisp), I experienced something of a personal awakening and walked away from my mainstream media career in order to write and engage on climate and climate justice. I got involved with a Transition Town effort in Wayland, MA, and in 2012, I helped start the statewide grassroots network 350 Massachusetts and helped launch the alumni wing of Divest Harvard, working closely with the student organizers there and on other campuses for several years. I engaged deeply in the fights against the Keystone XL pipeline and the West Roxbury (Boston) fracked-gas pipeline. I’ve risked arrest numerous times, and gone to jail (for a few hours) four times, most recently for blockading a coal train at Ayer, MA. These days I find myself collaborating on nonviolent resistance work with the good folks at the Climate Disobedience Center, the origins of which are central to my 2015 book.
I also have a deep interest in religion and spiritual practice, with a commitment to interfaith dialogue and understanding. I guess you could say I’m a Zen Buddhist Christian, or maybe a Christian Zen Buddhist. (Does it really matter?) In any case, having been brought up in a conservative evangelical church in southern California, with family roots in Texas — mostly the rural, small-town, working-class parts — I’m now an active member of a progressive Episcopal (Anglican) parish and a longtime member of a Zen Buddhist sangha. I suppose I’ve traveled about as far on the religious and political spectrum as possible in this country. Which may explain a lot about my work.
about this site…
You can reach me via Gmail at wen.stephenson.
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