The Difference of a Decade (Medium, June 29, 2020). Notes on ten years in the climate justice struggle — and a look back at the Preface to What We’re Fighting for Now Is Each Other.
Book Excerpt: Chapter 3. Organizing for Survival (June 18, 2020). In solidarity with the Juneteenth protests this weekend to Defend Black Lives in the United States, I’m posting Chapter Three (in its entirety) of my 2015 book, What We’re Fighting for Now Is Each Other, along with a portion of Chapter Six, “Too Late for What?”
Alternate Histories (The Baffler, May 21, 2020). A conversation with John Nichols about his new book, The Fight for the Soul of the Democratic Party, and the political roads not taken — from Henry A. Wallace to Bernie Sanders.
a bit about me…
I’m an independent journalist, essayist, author, and … how shall we say? … engaged citizen (just don’t call me an “activist”), 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 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 was the editorial director of TheAtlantic.com from 1996 to 2001, and later at The Boston Globe, where I was deputy editor and then editor of the Sunday Ideas section in its early years, from 2004 to 2007. I even dabbled in radio, for reasons I still cannot explain, when I was hired away to be the head 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) three 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.
If you’d like to receive the occasional email alerting you when I’ve published a new piece, just drop me a line, and I’ll add you to the list.
I used to tweet (@wenstephenson), but not anymore. I’ll keep the account, though, if only as an historical curiosity.