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Douglas Detrick talks with Craig Santos Perez about climate change from his perspective as a Pacific Islander and the stories that continue to inspire him to work for a more sustainable future for all of us.

Craig Santos Perez

Links to media mentioned in the episode

“Praise Song for Oceania” by Craig Santos Perez and Justyn Ah Chong

Learn more about Justyn Ah Chong at his website.

Habitat Threshold, Craig’s latest book of poetry, available March 19th, 2020. Buy it on Amazon or from the publisher, Omnidawn Publishing.

Episode Transcript

Welcome to More Devotedly, a podcast for people who see the arts as a force for positive, progressive change. I’m Douglas Detrick.

We look at climate change from another angle in this third episode of volume II, this time at the ocean and people who live their lives close to it. 

We’ve been working together these last few episodes, you, the guests and I, towards developing an intimate, personal language that will help us address this global crisis, to learn to talk about our own emotional reality when it comes to climate change, and how artists are participating in that process.

It’s not something that is ever finished, certainly not in just a few conversations, but I hope that some of you have made some progress. I have, and I feel more empowered than I used to feel about this particular issue, thanks to Stephanie McCollough, EM Lewis, and my next guest, Craig Santos Perez.

Introduction

Craig Santos Perez is an indigenous Chamoru from the Pacific Island of Guam. He is a poet, scholar, educator, and political activist, often focusing on environmental issues from a Pacific Islander perspective. He now lives on the island of Oahu where he teaches literature at the University of Hawaii, Manoa. 

As I started this podcast, I began by interviewing personal friends, artists whose work I felt fit the mission of the show, and who I knew would do me the favor of helping me through the beginning stages of a new project.

However, Craig and I didn’t know each other before this interview, and in fact, we still haven’t met in person. I interviewed him over the phone, with a recording engineer capturing his end of the conversation in Hawaii. As I broaden the number of artists who appear on this show, part of that work has been to expand my reach geographically, and to interview artists that I didn’t know personally. There are artists all over the world taking a stand on issues, and I’m looking forward to introducing you to more of them.

I became aware of Craig’s work through the Artists and Climate Change blog, which I highly recommend. Find a link for it on the episode page at moredevotedly.com. On the post about Craig, written by Susan Hoffman Fishman, I saw a film featuring Craig’s poetry that was produced by filmmaker Justyn Ah Chong. Be sure to head to moredevotedly.com to see the whole thing, but let me share some of the audio with you now.

[Praise Song for Oceania audio]

This poem provides such an eloquent example of how artists can mix the personal and the political. Climate change and all the related issues that affect the ocean are complicated—even though the carbon dioxide and methane emissions that cause the warming are understood, curbing those emissions in a just and responsible way aren’t simple or easy. 

And as we struggle, we all have jobs and families and all kinds of other things to worry about. We all want to rise to meet this issue, yet we are all distracted by the things human beings are always distracted by. And here in the United States, our political system fails over and over again to address this problem and so many others. We need a solution to fix a broken world, and all we have to do it is a broken system. 

Yes, we’re a mess, but the mess is all we have.

I love how Craig has brought so much dignity to both the ocean and to the person who looks out on it. It asks the reader to consider the ocean in a different way with every stanza, shifting the perspective from the historical to the political to the anthropological to the personal as he floats from one idea to the next. It respects the bottomlessness of the ocean itself, the complexity of the issues that face it, and the layered lives of the people who address them. 

We talked about that poem and about Craig’s own experiences waking up to climate change while living in Hawaii, how his indigenous heritage informs his work, and how those of us who don’t live on an island in the Pacific ocean can learn to understand the ocean more like he does.

Here’s the episode.

Interview

Part I

Doug: Talk about  how you got to be where you are  teaching, writing and activism in terms of climate change. 

Craig: Sure. Well, I was born on the Western Pacific Island of Guam and raised there till I was 15 years old. And then my family decided to migrate to California, which is where I finished high school, completed college and did graduate degrees in creative writing and ethnic studies. And during my time as a graduate student, is when I really became involved in activism related to Pacific Islanders and the environment. And so from that time, I started writing poetry about themes of environmental justice and climate change.

And so that was kind of where it begun. And I kind of experienced the power of poetry and literature to help raise awareness about environmental issues in the Pacific and the importance of them bringing that message to  pacific Islander communities as well as the larger environmental movement in the U.S. 

Doug: and then now you teach at the university of Hawaii, is that correct?

Craig: Yes. So for the past nine years, I’ve been a professor at the university of Hawaii. Uh, I teach in the English department, specializing in Pacific Islander literature, creative writing and environmental poetry. 

Doug: you’ve talked quite a bit about how, your indigenous identity has been important to you, you know, in all these roles that you’re playing, in teaching in, activism, and in writing. And, um, curious what you can share about that perspective and what do you think that that  brings to your work, you know, perhaps that you wouldn’t have otherwise?

Craig: Well, in my culture, we’re taught that the lands and the waters are, the source of all life and that we have a ancestral and genealogical connection to place. And so. You know, when we think about our relationship to place, it’s more our relationship to family or to our elders.

And so we’re taught from a young age to treat the environment with respect and care and reverence. And, you know, when we do take from the environment, like, food or, wood to build canoes or houses and so on, you know, we only take what we need. We’re taught kind of from an early age to, to live as sustainably as possible.

And of course, growing up on a small Island where we’re very connected to the land and the ocean, and dependent on, you know, the natural environment. And so that indigenous belief, which is common in many cultures. You know, has really informed my writing and my activism . To try to embody those of values of sustainability, in my work and in my teaching.

Doug:  one of your pieces that we talked about was a praise song for Oceania. So, how do you relate to the ocean, you know, from this perspective? And how do you feel that it has informed the poetry?

Craig: Well, the ocean has always been, in my culture, considered the source of all life. And it is where, you know, my ancestors navigated across , so it’s also a space of, movement, space of, sustenance. You know, where we harvest fish from, you know, and of course, also a place of recreation where, where we swim and dive, you know, so the ocean, you know, has always been an everyday part of, of my life growing up in Guam, but also a deep source of, mythology.

And so, when I write about the ocean, I tried to capture all its complexities  as home, but also as horizon. And so in the poem you mentioned praise song for Oceania. I try to, sing the praises of all the things that the ocean has provided not only my own people, but you know, peoples around the world.

And then to also think about the threats and harms that the humans have caused to the ocean.  And so try to bring all that together in terms of thinking about the ocean as a space of both trauma, but also hope and healing. 

Doug: Yeah. It’s certainly like trauma from, the loss that’s already happening and, even more loss in the future.

Craig: Yes. So I read about things like, you know, like military testing in the oceans, deep sea mining, ocean acidification, coral bleaching, you know, the collapsing of fish populations. So there are so many threats to the ocean. And, humans around the world rely on the ocean for, food, and for, their economies.

And so I think it’s an important issue that, you know, everyone needs to be aware of because even if you lived, you know, in a landlocked continent, you’ll still be impacted by changes in the far away ocean. 

Doug:  I went to the beach a lot as a kid and it was always a really important place for me. I loved to go into the ocean and,  and to see the ocean and all that. though my perspective is not the same. I was curious if there’s one thing you could think about, in terms of how you relate to the ocean as a person who lives in Hawaii, somebody who was born on Guam, and who has lived in California, to live in an Island in the Pacific, I think is a much different experience. And I’m wondering if there’s a way you can think about, to  share that experience with people that, don’t have it personally.

Craig: Definitely. I think many people who don’t have a lot of interactions with the ocean. conceptualize the ocean as a vast empty space or blue expanse. so I would, share with those people that, you know, instead, we should think about the ocean as a place that is rich with history, that is, tied to, national economies. That is a place that is militarized. That is also a cultural space as well. And you know, it is a space of, of everyday interactions. You know, it’s a mythological space and, you know, just to kind of see beyond the idea of the ocean as just the horizon, but instead to see the ocean in all its complexity as being a living, breathing entity that is connected to all of us.

And. You know, that even will affect weather patterns far away. So, you know, with, with my poems, uh, you know, I tried to kind of highlight, you know, the kind of living, breathing ocean and all its, history and culture and politics as well. 

Doug: You know, especially in the Western United States, a lot of times where we’re talking quite a lot about, land management. You know, timber is one great example, especially in Oregon. That conversation is, is one that is much more developed concerning land resources, I would say.  do you feel like that’s kind of a dichotomy that is perhaps, harming that conversation surrounding the ocean as opposed to perhaps, you know, the same conversation that’s more focused on land? 

Craig: Yeah, that’s a great point. Oh, I think the ocean is far less regulated and managed than land.

There are international waters and there also, you know, national territorial waters of what’s often called the exclusive economic zones of certain countries. And so the oceans themselves are being territorialized, colonized, militarized and even politicized. And so, you know, a lot of this has to do with resource extraction as well in terms of trying to control fish populations.

Know, especially tuna in the Pacific is, is a large, industry.  the control of shipping lanes in the Pacific is another, a big political topic. And then of course, militarization. So not only are many Pacific islands use as military bases, but the waters are militarized as well. A lot of these problems are invisible and a lot of the legal and territorial  mechanisms are often not very well understood.  

Part 2 – A personal language of climate change

Doug: What kind of going in the opposite direction, in making the ocean a little bit more personal and making it, not as like an abstract economic concept or a political concept. I want to kind of go back to the praise song for Oceania and talk  about how are you able to make connections to between your family, your heritage, your daily day reality. How did that approach to writing about the ocean come about for you? 

Craig: Well, for me, what I love about poetry and literature is that it gives us an opportunity to humanize, abstract ideas. And so, you know, when I started writing that poem. You know, I thought about taking my daughter to the ocean for the first time, or taking her to the beach so she can swim. And that was a really important and profound cultural moment to kind of introduce her to mother ocean.

And so, thinking about that very personal family and cultural moment then made me think about. The larger, political and historical and economic dimensions of the ocean. So I wanted to tie it together, you know, the personal and political, to read together the local and the global. And to think about, um, you know, how I can imagine the ocean and the more expensive and complex way that, uh, brings together all these interconnections.

the power of, poetry and literature is to cultivate this kind of ecological imagination or consciousness where we can see all these interconnections and think about, you know, how the ocean, connects to our everyday lives. and to how we as human beings connect then to the natural world.

Doug:  Do you get a sense of how your children conceptualize the ocean and do you feel that it’s different perhaps to the way you did when you were a child?

Craig: I’m not sure. They’re still very young. They’re only five and two years old. And so when we go to, the beach they swim, I think the ocean right now is just a space of, play for them, a space of recreation.

And you know, thankfully both my daughters love the water. they love splashing around swimming. I think they like the sensation that it gives them. And so, being with them. You know, in the water as an adult, of course, I’m also thinking about, all the things I just mentioned, you know, especially here in Hawaii where the ocean is a very militarized and tourist sized place.

And so I’m thinking about those political dimensions of the experience.  there are a lot of coral bleaching events happening in the past few years here in Hawaii as well. So, you know, I try not to think about all those things and just to have fun with my daughters, but it does creep into the back of my mind, because I am aware of these issues.

Doug: Do you feel that you see the ocean,  and relate to it in a different way than perhaps your parents or maybe your grandparents?

Craig: I think so. I think with, my grandparents generation, you know, I think they spent a lot of time in the water, but mainly, to fish. And so I think, you know, they saw the ocean as, you know, source of sustenance and food. Uh, my parents generations. You know, it was a little bit different, because they both traveled more and migrated, you know, across the ocean. So I think maybe perhaps they saw the ocean more as a, you know, a space of crossing and migration and journey. 

We know now for me being, you know, both a, an academic, a scholar, and a poet, , I kind of. see the different layers of the ocean, you know, both through their eyes, but also, through more kind of political, historical lens.

Doug: Right.   but then, you know, I think that that difference between  our generation and our parents’ generation, is a really interesting one because I, you know, I, it feels like there’s a much bigger difference between perhaps our generation and the coming generations and even looking back just one generation to our parents. 

we were just watching a  nature documentary with our kids. and, One thing that we noticed is how different they are compared to the similar type of show that we watched as a kid. You know, and even like, you know, tracing that back through like just some of the earlier work that David Attenborough did. You know, where there’s still that same wonder and there’s that same, appreciation for just the amazing things that are happening and all this amazing stuff that we can learn about animals and the planet. But our relationship to it as human beings is much different. And we can’t really rely on it to go on as it always has these days.

Craig: Yeah, I think that’s true. I think the, you know, the younger generations, unfortunately, are going to, face the, the impacts of climate change that, you know, I didn’t experience as a child. And then also it seems like they’re going to be much more educated in environmental and sustainability issues because these are being taught you know, even in elementary school, which wasn’t the case when I was younger. And so, you know, even though that may, you know, foreclose their sense of, of wonder and innocence. You know, in terms of experiencing the environment, perhaps in the positive side, it will kind of transform them into environmentalist and climate change activists at a much younger age. perhaps there’ll be able to imagine more sustainable worlds that, previous generations were not able to do. 

Doug: I certainly hope that that will be true.  

Part 3

Doug: There’s a really well developed scientific language, around climate change.  there’s so much data, there is so much, work being done by many, many people that are giving us kind of a factual and scientific understanding of how the planet is changing and what is contributing to that and what’s making that happen. 

I wanted to change our focus a little bit to the climate change issue broadly but I kind of wanted to begin that conversation in a, a slightly more personal way.  how did you feel when you first became aware of how serious an issue climate change was going to be in your lifetime?

Craig: I became aware of it, of the seriousness when I moved to Hawaii maybe about eight years ago when there were, you know, so many storms and so many hurricanes.  And, you know, growing up in the Pacific, we’re kind of used to stores, but they became much more intense and much more frequent. and I remember teaching a environmental poetry class, and we’re in the classroom and, you know, it’s crazy winds surrounding us.

It’s pouring down rain. We’re getting flood alerts on our cell phones,  because the campus is within a Valley. You know, there’s thunder enlightening. It was a nighttime class too. So we’re, we’re seeing, you know, the lightening crash around this. I just could see the fear and anxiety, my students’ faces, you know, as we’re reading poetry about the environment and thinking about, you know, the future that they’re going to inherit.

But also of course, being a new parent at the time, you know, thinking about  the feature that my children were going to inherit. And so, that kind of moment of awakening for me happened in the classroom, during a storm here in Hawaii. 

And so, you know, that kind of started me on this journey to write more about the topic, to teach more about climate change in the classroom, and then to become more involved in the climate movement both locally and globally when I can.

Doug: How did that affect you emotionally when you’re seeing that  register on the students’ faces in real time? 

Craig: It made me  very depressed, uh, very worried. you know, I too felt a lot of anxiety. I felt anger as well, and  felt, very fearful for them and for all of us. and I felt very vulnerable too, because, you know, these storms and, and, you know, rising sea levels and, you know, everything else that was happening around the world, you know, felt so beyond our control. 

and so those were my immediate feelings. You know, but then, you know, as I started, you know, talking more with the students and seeing them write their poems. I felt like the writing and the poetry started to. help us feel more empowered. And it gave us a voice to, you know, express and cope with our emotions. And, you know, then I started to feel moments of hope as well. I feel like, you know, literature not only, as I mentioned, has the power to humanize experience, but it also has a power,  to dignify and inspire us to act and to still have hope for the future and to imagine new futures. 

Doug: you mentioned, that some of your students had read their work at a climate activism conference. Tell me about that experience of seeing your students  taking those emotions that they were feeling that you were describing and kind of distilling them into the form of poetry that they then can share with an audience.

And of course they’re either, they’re going through their own emotional reality. At all at the times as well. But that’s kind of a time that you got to kind of see one moment of it hitting them in a certain way, and, you know, taking that experience and others in their lives and, um, you know, I think that one concept that’s really important about how artists can, um, interact with these issues is that we. We, we do kind of take in the world around us, you know, both kind of our personal reality and, you know, maybe on a larger, um, perhaps a global scale as well, and bring all those experiences together and kind of, maybe distill is the right word.

Maybe, um, you know, build them into something, maybe sculpting them into something that they can then share with an audience. Uh, that’s a really important thing because if we, sometimes if you just give. If, if it’s just an outpouring of raw, raw emotion that’s completely unprocessed, I suppose. Um, you know, maybe that’s not a great way to interact with an audience, but then, but as an artist, we, we do have this power to kind of process these things and kind of share that reality with somebody else in a way that, you know, perhaps.

Um. Then makes a bigger impact on them. Um, and I’m, I’m just, I’m curious if you, you know, if you see it that way, um, do you see maybe a different role for, um, artists in terms of how they’re kind of interpreting that and bringing it to an audience? How, talk a bit about, you know, what you experienced as you see your students sharing their work with this, this particular audience?

Craig: Well, I feel very lucky the, the environmental justice and climate justice movements are very creative movements, and they value the arts, music, and the humanities because it does humanize, as I said, but it also inspires and empowers. And so, you know, over the years, my students have participated in many different, environmental events here in Hawaii.

And. It’s been very inspiring for me to see them up on stage, sharing their work with an audience. sharing their own emotions and experiences cultural backgrounds and connections to, the environment. And when I look into the audience, I could see that they also feel inspired.

sometimes, you know, audience members will cry because they’re so touched by the poetry. sometimes the poetry will be a rallying cry,  to help give the movement strength and momentum because being activists is very difficult work.

And so I think we as artists need to do whatever we can to help, you know, continue to inspire the movement, and contribute what we can creatively. and then of course, I see my students, you know, become more confident and empowered and interested because I think once they learn about and write about an issue,  they can’t help but then become involved in the issue as well. So I think poetry and the arts can be a pathway. Into environmental activism as well. 

Doug: curious, , what’s next for you?  and perhaps what’s next for your students? Is there anything kind of coming up that is  inspiring, some new work or you know, some plans that you’re making. 

Craig: Yes. two things. first, my next book of poetry is actually coming out in March of this year. And the book is titled habitat threshold. And it’s a, it’s basically a collection of, of eco poetry about, you know, environmental justice and climate change. and then also praise song for Oceania, is in that book as well.

 Doug: where will people be able to find your book?

Craig: either directly from my publisher. All new Dawn publishing or you can purchase it on amazon.com. 

Doug: we’ll put links up, on the website for that. 

Craig: Awesome. Thank you. 

 the second thing I’m excited about is, you know, my spring semester here, the university’s about to start, and I’m teaching two classes on food writing. And, you know, food is, is a very important part of, of human experiences and of course, of the environment. And, you know, it’s also being impacted by, by climate change.

And so I’m excited to work with my students, you know, learning about food issues here in the Pacific and then seeing what kind of writing they produce, thinking about their own relationship to food and animals and ecosystems. 

Doug: you know, I think one of the ways that, um, we’re going to see our world changing more and more is through our food. what are your ways of  introducing them to those broader issues that have to do with food?

Craig: Well, to begin the class. We kind of start internally. So they do a lot of writing about their own food memories and their own food cultures. And so, you know, the rights on nonfiction and poetry about,  their first memories of food, maybe their favorite foods growing up. and then, you know, of course, like the cultural foods that they were introduced to, uh, as, as children. Uh, beyond that, we’ll then talk about. A kind of local foods here in Hawaii. Thinking about, you know, what foods were grown here traditionally, and then we’ll talk about food colonialism. 

So what kind of introduced or settler foods came with  colonial American culture here in Hawaii. then we’ll also talk about restaurant food. So they’ll also write like restaurant reviews, and they’ll think about the politics, and, economies of restaurants and those experiences.

 then when we get beyond that, we’ll also talk about, food, agriculture, uh, slaughterhouses, kind of the treatment of. animals and concentrated animal feeding operations. and then of course we’ll, we’ll talk about climate change as you mentioned. So how it’s gonna impact certain foods like, coffee or chocolate.

and, uh, you know, then we’ll, we kind of end with thinking about kind of the future of food. You know, whether that might be like lab grown meats, impossible burgers or you know, kind of sustainable and organic foods.

Doug:  beginning with a personal. Connection, to their own upbringing, you know, their own memories, their own family, um, and their own heritage

I think we lead by example in the arts. we show how a human being can  think more deeply about their food, about where it comes from and who makes it, and, and all these things. The same can be true with climate change and you know, that’s a way that artists can participate in that movement is by helping people to build their own kind of emotional language around this topic and then  looking for ways to kind of extend that out into the world.

The way you’ve kind of thought about designing that course, is it by design in that way? beginning with the personal and then moving out from that as a starting point? 

Craig: Yes. Those are great points. You know, as you mentioned, I feel like the power of art and literature is to, you know, try to describe the deeper meanings of life and you know, to try to capture those, profound emotions that, that we feel as, as human beings in what it means to be alive in our historical moment.

And so. You know, in terms of, teaching, you know, I do think it’s important for students to, to start with the personal so that they feel that kind of investment in the topic. 

And then  from that grounding in their memories and their cultures and where they are today, then we could look globally at larger issues  and see how it connects to, to us here. And, I feel like that will help cultivate, that ecological consciousness where they can see how everything is interconnected. You know, from the personal to the political. whether that’s food or the ocean or the environment, like we’re all connected together in this one,  really complex, profound ecosystem. 

Doug:  going back to when you were talking about some of your students, sharing poetry with audiences, and you talked a bit about some hopeful moments and some positivity. the reason that I want to come back to this before we kind of wrap up this conversation. You know, I just wanted to, talk a bit about where you find some optimism. 

especially as we talk about  climate change, one thing I really want to avoid is sugarcoating. I don’t think it does anyone a favor to pretend the issue is less serious than it is and, or less complicated. 

But at the same time, you know, we’re human beings and we’re not machines we can’t just set ourselves to, you know, work on some issue permanently without getting tired, without getting burnt out, without getting discouraged. So,  finding some optimism. kind of amid the difficulty and the struggle, is critical in my experience.

And I’m wondering,  what are some of the hopeful experiences you’ve had  what are some of the emotions that kind of lead you in a more helpful direction or perhaps, maybe hopeful isn’t the only word, maybe  determined? What are some of those types of feelings that you have seen or experienced, either of yourself or with your family or with your students? 

Craig: Yes. So I think for me, a hope and optimism are, things that we need to cultivate. And so, I’ve been lucky to be here in Hawaii where there are many environmental groups and there are many people. who are committed to, you know, both environmental justice, but also to climate justice.

And so I feel hope, you know, grow inside me whenever I attend, you know, a climate March, for example, or a beach cleanup or some other kind of, environmental event. And. You know, and then of course, kinda to witness the climate movement globally, through media and social media. I feel hope when I see, you know, millions of people marching around the world for climate justice like that helps kind of grow hope a little bit more inside me.

 I also feel hope when, you know, I’m working with my students and I’m seeing them write, they’re very inspiring poems and seeing them get involved in, in the climate or environmental justice movements. 

you know, also cultivate hope when I’m with my daughters and, and we are at the beach or going for a walk in the park, I see their expressions of, innocence and wonder and joy of being in nature and experiencing these new sensations. you know, so that also gives me hope. 

being a poet, you know, writing poetry myself and sharing my own poetry in publishing it. You know, that helps also kind of to, to grow hope. And then, you know, having this conversation with you, you know, seeing the work you’re doing in other artists. And musicians and writers, you know, seeing how the whole community is coming together to address these issues, I think gives me hope as well. Um, and I feel like, you know, hope and optimism and joy and love and solidarity and community, all these positive emotions that, so important for us to, to cultivate because we do live in very dark and scary and anxious times. And you know, I think we need to find, Those kinds of communities and moments and people in our lives where we can still feel that, kind of hope amidst, you know, everything else that is bearing down upon us.

Part 5

Doug:  one last question, was curious if you could share  a moment from your childhood that has been important to you in the work that you’re doing now. 

Craig: Well, the first memory that comes to mind is, is being at my grandma’s house. And she grew a lot of fruit trees, so she had a little tropical orchard  with bananas and mangoes, coconut trees, papaya trees.

And I always loved going to her house after school and, you know, just playing in her orchard and climbing the trees. And it was especially moving when the fruit was start to grow and ripen.  I specifically thinking about the mango tree, which, there was, have like seemingly thousands of these beautiful mangoes, which are all red and yellow and orange, kind of the color of, of a sunset.

And, you know, there were so many, and we were so excited when they would be ripened and we can pick them. And then I also remember there were just so many mangoes that we could not eat them all. So we always shared them with our relatives and our neighbors. 

even though I wasn’t conscious of it, then just thinking about the abundance of nature and you know, how it does feed us and nurture us and give us life. But then we also, as people, you know, thinking about. instead of hoarding or being greedy and keeping all the fruit for ourselves, like there was so much that we can share with our neighbors and relatives and that helped build community and connection and family.

I would love for, for the abundance of nature and its biodiversity to continue so that my children could also have those experiences of being fed and nurtured by nature, but then also sharing the abundance in nature with others so that we can continue to build, kinship among all of humanity.

Doug:  it’s something that comes to mind for me hearing that story is that,  my aunt and uncle have. they live in the country outside of Eugene, Oregon, and have a, you know, kind of a small Apple orchard. every fall, they would get so many apples that, you know, there’s no way they could use them all.

And so we would, they would give us a few boxes of apples. And, uh, and so, you know, it’s kind of become a tradition with my children, we take those apples, and make Apple sauce. then later when we went to visit my aunt and uncle, it was like, Hey guys, these are the trees where those apples come from, that we make this applesauce.    so that kind of experience where they’re kind of seeing those connections in a personal way, I think are so important. 

it’s interesting how the overlap between climate change and food is just one of many ways that we can  put a lens around that issue and kind of just look at a smaller part of it that makes it a little bit more personal, a little bit more real, you know? that’s  one of those ways that we can think about these larger issues and bring a little bit more of a concrete reality to it, that they can relate to a little bit more easily, mentally and emotionally and conceptually. 

Craig: Well, thank you for sharing your story. I love that story. And you know, I definitely agree with, with what you said about the power of art to make those connections and to, to educate and inspire us as well. 

Doug:  Thank you so much for doing this interview and being on the podcast. I’m really looking forward to sharing it with the audience  and sharing your work with the audience. So thank you so much. 

Craig: Well, thank you so much as well. I’m honored to be part of this conversation and inspired by the work that you’re doing and thanks to everyone who’s listening.

Conclusion

Thanks so much to Craig for talking with me, and to Craig and Justyn Ah Chong for granting permission to use audio from the short film Praise Song for Oceania. Don’t miss the whole film embedded on our website. Craig’s next book, Habitat Threshold is coming out March 19th, 2020. We’ve got links to buy the book and much much more at moredevotedly.com.

This episode was produced by me, Douglas Detrick here in Portland OR.

[Portland Sound]

I composed and performed the music along with some ace violin playing by Joe Kye, and some spot-on singing by my daughter. The show logo was created by Lindsay Jordan Kretchun. Big thanks to Jenny for her support of my crazy ideas and to Kim Gumbel for helping it make sense. 

What you’re doing is beautiful. Can you do it more devotedly?

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