Citizens’ Climate Radio Ep. 68: An English major’s unexpected journey into creative climate advocacy

Citizens’ Climate Radio Ep. 68: An English major’s unexpected journey into creative climate advocacyFlannery Winchester (R) moderating the plenary panel at CCL’s November 2019 conference in Washington, D.C.

Citizens’ Climate Radio Ep. 68: An English major’s unexpected journey into creative climate advocacy

Citizens’ Climate Radio is a monthly podcast hosted by CCLer Peterson Toscano. Browse all our past episode recaps here, or listen to past episodes here, and check out the latest episode in the post below. 

Deciding what one wants to do and be in life has often been hard for young people in high school and college. Now with a global pandemic in a time of climate change, it is more difficult than ever to answer the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Many graduation speeches exhort us to “pursue our passions,” and many parents worry that such a pursuit will lead their child into a jobless future.

Flannery Winchester was not put off by the concerns of others. She wanted to study English literature. She had no idea her skills and passion would lead her to take on a national role in communicating to people about climate change. 

Citizens’ Climate Radio Ep. 68: An English major’s unexpected journey into creative climate advocacy

After working in communications for a women’s health and fitness magazine based in Atlanta, Flannery felt something was missing. Her work wasn’t fulfilling her in the way she wanted. She realized she wanted to work in the climate movement. 

“I started applying for a bunch of jobs in the environmental and climate space, got absolutely radio silence from every application that I sent out and I was trying to figure out why I wasn’t getting any response…So I decided, instead of spinning my wheels and trying to get a job in that space, that I would just go volunteer. I would just start doing the work I wanted to do even if nobody would pay me for it yet, while I still did the paying job that I had.”

After a few years exploring various climate groups in Atlanta, Flannery stumbled upon a CCL letter-writing event through a friend’s recommendation. 

“Within minutes of walking in the door of that event…they had put a pen in my hand and sat me down and said, ‘We’re gonna write to our senators about the fact that we want them to take climate change really seriously and we want them to enact policy to address it.’ By the end of the night, I had written out and addressed and stamped my letters to my members of Congress, and I felt so snazzy because I had never done anything like that before. It was so concrete that it was really satisfying to have done that.” 

Flannery in October 2020 with Vote Forward letters she sent to encourage people to vote in the upcoming election.

The environment within the CCL chapter felt different from other climate groups; the members were optimistic about their ability to create change. Flannery explains, “Everybody in that room had that sense of ‘if we make our voices heard, if we show up together, if we apply pressure together and we stay persistent, we can make our elected officials take this seriously, and we can solve this problem.’” She has been with CCL ever since, first as a volunteer blog writer in 2015, then coming on staff with the communications team in 2017, until eventually she was offered the position of Communications Director. When she’s not working, she enjoys gardening, reading, or spending time outside with her dogs.

Citizens’ Climate Radio Ep. 68: An English major’s unexpected journey into creative climate advocacy

Listen Now!

The Art House

Krista Hiser is back with another installment of the Ultimate Cli-Fi Book Club. This time she looks at a book that hits very close to home. She dives into the pandemic and climate change through Emily St. John Mandel’s novel, “Station Eleven.”

“Station Eleven” features a quick and brutal “Georgia Flu” which eliminates 99% of the human population in just weeks. With an apocalyptic backdrop, this story follows a group of survivors as they attempt to rediscover and redefine humanity through kindness, creativity, and art in the time after the devastating losses of the pandemic. In her discussion, Krista considers what it means to be an individual versus a collective when it comes to our planetary predicament.

You can hear standalone versions of The Art House at Artists and Climate Change.

Good News Report

Our Good News Report this month comes from Dr. Anthony Leiserowitz with Yale Climate Connections as he speaks with Regan Patterson, the Transportation Equity Research Fellow for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. One major problem with pollution from diesel trucks, she explains, is “discriminatory planning processes in which communities of color and low-income communities are often located near ports, major roadways, and distribution centers, and so therefore are disproportionately exposed to diesel exhaust.” 

An exciting possibility to stop additional inequitable impacts of these fumes is electric vehicles. Funding the creation and infrastructure for heavy-duty electric vehicles could combat further harm to communities near highly-trafficked highway systems, as electric vehicles do not emit harmful diesel exhaust.

We always welcome your thoughts, questions, suggestions, good news, and recommendations for the show. Leave a voicemail at (518) 595-9414 (+1 if calling from outside the U.S.). You can email your answers to .

You can hear Citizens’ Climate Radio on:

Also, feel free to connect with other listeners, suggest program ideas, and respond to programs in the Citizens’ Climate Radio Facebook group or on Twitter at @CitizensCRadio.