1.5-day narrative writing workshop for the Knight Science Journalism fellowship program at MIT, Cambridge, MA.
One planet. Nearly eight billion humans — each one with their own story that they tell and retell themselves and everyone around them. No one is exempt. But what can we can learn from stepping out of our own narratives to enter other people’s stories? Award-winning science journalist Meera Subramanian has been chasing these stories, finding them among farmers rooted in north India, wind turbine technicians looking out over west Texas, and flyfishermen on the banks of the Wise River in Montana. She’s sought out strangers to hear their perspectives about inhabiting this singular earth at this pivotal time, as all of humanity settles into the new epoch of the Anthropocene. How do the ever-more advanced findings from academia, from brain science to climate science, inform the lives of people far from its reaches? And how do those stories serve their storytellers? She’ll share what she’s found in the field and also challenge the audience to broaden their own horizons by stepping into the space of discomfort and engaging in the radical act of listening. In this time of polarization, hearing those stories is more important than ever.
Tomorrow I’ll be heading to the heartland for University of Iowa’s Global Forum to talk cookstoves. With people from a variety of backgrounds — anthropology, engineering, economics, gender studies, journalism, non-profits and more — we’ll discuss the troubling persistence of harm from biomass cookstoves used by three billion people around the world. This multidisciplinary approach seems like a good step away from thinking about this as a purely an engineering problem, or an economic problem, or a development problem. It’s all those things and a whole lot of other messy humanness. It’s what I explored in my book, A River Runs Again and this piece for Nature. The event is free and open to the public.
Eco Swaraj: Can India’s Model of the Micro Transform Development for the 21st Century?
It’s been a year and half since A River Runs Again was published and my answer to the above question continues to morph. If you’re in the Cambridge, Massachusetts area in the next couple of months, you’ll have a chance to join me as I think out loud about what I found while researching the book over three years and what recent world events make me think now. (You can read a little more on that at the KSJ blog post, here.)
e4Dev student group of the MIT Energy Initiative (MITei)
Tuesday, February 7, 2017
5:30 pm – 6:30 pm
MIT, Building E18, Room 304
50 Ames Street, Cambridge MA
You can find more information and RSVP here.
Harvard STS Circle
Monday, March 27, 2017
12:15 pm – 2:00 pm
Harvard University, K262, Bowie-Vernon Room, CGIS
1737 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA
You can find more info and RSVP here.
(To get a free sandwich, be sure to RSVP by Wednesday at 5:00 pm the week before!)
I’ll be showing lots of photographs and here’s a description of the talk:
In this exploration of life, loss and survival in modern-day India, Subramanian shares findings and photographs from her book, A River Runs Again: India’s Natural World in Crisis from the Barren Cliffs of Rajasthan to the Farmlands of Karnataka. Using the five elements (earth, water, fire, air, and ether) as a framework, she traveled across India to seek out the ordinary people and micro-enterprises determined to guide India into a more sustainable future. Could India be the perfect place to shift from an outdated model of the macro — big dams, industrial agriculture, nuclear power, all developed in the West — to a new model of the micro? Should it choose this path, India could create a sustainable model of development that could be implemented elsewhere, from industrializing China to electrifying sub-Saharan Africa, to drought-stricken America, with its crumbling infrastructure.
Spread the word!
…I’ll also be joining a great panel hosted by Boston University Institute for Sustainable Energy & Union of Concerned Scientists:
Science & Environment: A Journalist’s Perspective
Thursday, February 16, 2017
4:00 pm – 5: 30 pm
The Westin Copley Place Hotel
10 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02116
Panel Discussion followed by cocktail reception and hors d’oeuvres.
This event is free & open-to-all.
Science and policy issues in energy and the environment have become a rich source of material for authors and journalists across the media spectrum. In particular, both the science of climate change and the reportage on that science have both become heavily politicized, posing unique challenges for journalism.
This panel discussion explores the evolving role of authors and journalists who work in the energy and environment fields. Each panelist will discuss the evolution of their professional experience and the challenges of writing and reporting in this field, especially in the wake of the 2016 presidential election.
- Joe Romm, acclaimed author, Center for American Progress Senior Fellow, and science advisor to the National Geographic series “Years of Living Dangerously” and named by Rolling Stone as one of “The 100 People Who Are Changing America”
- Naomi Oreskes, award-winning and widely-cited science historian and Harvard University professor, co-author of Merchants of Doubt (2010, Bloomsberry Press)
- Seth Borenstein, award-winning national and international science writer for the Associated Press
- Meera Subramanian, award-winning journalist and MIT Knight Science Journalism Fellow whose work has been published around the world and author of A River Runs Again: India’s Natural World in Crisis from the Barren Cliffs of Rajasthan to the Farmlands of Karnataka(2015, PublicAffairs)
- John Rogers, Senior Energy Analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists, and co-author, Cooler Smarter: Practical Steps for Low-Carbon Living (2012, Island Press)
More events coming up for Elemental India. Specific details here. Hope to see you and do share the word with others you know in the following cities:
• 11 Feb: Fergusson College
• 15 Feb: MIDS
• 16 Feb: IIT-M Research Park
• 19 Feb: Azim Premji University
• 19 Feb: IISc Centre for Ecological Sciences
• 26 Feb: University of Hyderabad
- Green Drinks at Bombay Connect Thurs. Feb. 4 at 7:30 pm
- Mumbai Press Club Fri. Feb. 5 at 4:00 pm (journalists only)
- Kala Ghoda Arts Festival Eco-Arts panel Sat. Feb. 6 at 6:45 pm, where I’m excited to explore the power of the arts in enacting ecological change. With Ravi Agarwal, Sonia Mehra Chawla and Arati Kumar-Rao.
Baba Kharak Singh Marg
Another Delhi event coming up on Monday, when I’ll be speaking at Apne Aap‘s Feminism Beyond Boundaries series. I’ll be focusing on the fifth element in my book, in which I traveled to Bihar to explore population growth along with reproductive and sexual health training for teens. One girl transformed her life when she slipped a note into her father’s pocket….
Join me Monday, January 25, 2016 at the Oxford Bookstore Connaught Place (81, N Block, Connaught Place), 4:00 pm, to hear more.
Check out the Facebook event page here.
Join me, Delhiites! I’ve landed in India for the release of Elemental India: The Natural World in a Time of Crisis and Opportunity, and hope you’ll join me at one of the upcoming events. This is the official book launch, Tuesday, January 19th (tomorrow!) at The American Center at 6:00 pm. I’ll be in conversation with the wonderful Aseem Shrivastava, co-author of Churning the Earth.We’ll be touching upon faith in a seed, vanishing vultures, rivers reborn, choking air, population pressures, and the eternal question of hope. And there’ll be refreshments. Co-hosted by The American Center, HarperCollins India, USIEF (Fulbright) and Caravan magazine. Do come! Details here.
Update: Here’s a podcast of our conversation:
More events in the works for Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, and Chennai over the next month. Find all details for confirmed events here.
Working on a reported book has had three distinct phases. The on-the-ground reporting, a time of movement and questions, cameras slinging and notebooks filling. Then there was the isolation chamber of writing, dissecting the notebooks and photos, diving into research, writing, writing, re-writing, re-writing.
And now I’m in the third stage — of heading out into the world to talk about what I found. Can 1.3 billion people in India live sustainably? Can the planet? What’s working? What’s not? What can everyone learn, within India and around the world, from the successful models and the cautionary tales?
In case you weren’t able to make it to any of the events on my book tour, here are a few archived recordings of some of the presentations.
In New York City, I sat down with acclaimed author and good friend Suketu Mehta at my alma mater, New York University, for an evening hosted by the Literary Reportage concentration of the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute:
At the World Affairs Council of Northern California, I had great conversation with Linda Calhoun, Executive Producer at Career Girls. Before the talk, I met with World Affairs student ambassadors and fielded some of the toughest questions I heard on tour. (Providing great hope for the future!)
Here’s another video from the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, DC, where I’m in conversation WWC’s Meaghan Parker, American journalist Lisa Palmer, (who’s working on her book Feeding a Hot Hungry Planet: Agriculture, Climate Change, and Population) and Indian journalist Priyali Sur:
I was honored to join a long legacy of presenters at the University of Virginia’s Medical Center Hour, (though it was tough to figure out how to follow up a professional skateboarder!). The audio is a little tricky, but nice shots of photographs I’ve been showing along the way. The event was produced by the Center for Biomedical Ethics and Humanities in partnership with Historical Collections of the Health Sciences Library.
And also in New York City, I spoke with Steven Weiss of The Jewish Channel’s Up Close: