From her earliest years, Kate Weiner was enchanted by nature. She loved walking in the wilderness, gardening, smelling the flowers. As she grew older, she learned about climate change and wanted to find ways she could make a difference. “The more I learned about climate change, the hungrier I was to find community,” she says. But she had trouble finding a place that felt just right. “I didn’t always feel like mainstream climate organizing spaces were my spaces,” she says.
Loam is passionate about showing diversity in how you can be a steward of the earth and really uplifting the voices of people whose perspectives and practices might not register as traditional activist work.
In college, she decided to create a space that felt more suited to her own relationship with the environment, which she describes as “very much grounded in the senses.” While at Wesleyan University, she launched an environmental arts collective called Loam, which produced a literary magazine, built vertical gardens and invited students to explore the concepts of environmentalism and sustainability in creative and accessible ways that celebrate nature.
Her efforts resonated: in 2015 — the year she graduated — Weiner was honored with the Brower Youth Award, which recognizes youth leaders who are contributing to the environmental movement; in 2017 she received the John Goddard Prize for Environmental Conservancy; and in 2018, she was named a Spiritual Ecology Fellow by Kalliopeia Foundation.
Today, Weiner lives in Boulder, Colorado and still serves as creative director of Loam. The organization has taken on a community-driven life of its own, building a following of about 25,000 people interested in its print publications, its podcast on regenerative living and its workshops and retreats that hone in on topics such as permaculture. While the audience has grown, Weiner says Loam’s mission is the same as when it began: to offer inviting entry points into a kind of environmental activism that fits into daily life.
“I think in our culture we kind of have one idea of who the environmental activist is and Loam is passionate about showing diversity in how you can be a steward of the earth and really uplifting the voices of people whose perspectives and practices might not register as traditional activist work,” says Weiner.
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She adds that one of her goals with Loam is to bring artistic depth and beauty to the discussion around the environment. Science, she says, is critical to understanding the impact of climate change, but art can be just as impactful. “Science needs story. It needs storytellers and artists to help make those relationships and connections explicit,” she says. Loam draws in people who may not connect as readily to science or policy, but express their love, admiration and concern for the environment in other ways.
Weiner, herself, strives to incorporate environmentalism into all that she does, whether she’s growing her own herbs and edible flowers, making art using found materials or taking a walk and connecting with her surroundings. When she made the switch over to clean energy through Arcadia, it came as a relief. At the time of the switch, she felt as though her options were limited as a renter. In the past, she’d tried to get the apartment building where she lived to opt for solar power — she went so far as to bring in three different consultants to talk about it — but had no luck. “It was so infuriating because they were not about it,” she says.
Then, she learned about Arcadia. She says switching over was easy, and she likes looking at the dashboard to see the impact she and her roommates are making. “To me, Arcadia is really just a way to show up for a value of mine, which is to support alternative energy systems,” she says. “It feels like investing in this is a small part of what I can do to do better by my community, which feels really good.”
I’m seeing a deeper desire for in-person community and that feels really hopeful.”
As someone who loves to inspire and educate, Weiner has been telling friends and family about Arcadia, and is pleased that her parents and many of their friends have made the switch. In fact, she sees lots of changes afoot, and when she talks to young activists at workshops and retreats, she says she feels energized. “I think I’m seeing a deeper desire for in-person community and that feels really hopeful for me. People are wanting to connect to each other and realizing that the way our system, our world, is set up is not serving us, and that hunger to create a new world is really beautiful and affirming,” she says.
When Weiner was young, she struggled to find a community of environmental activists that felt like the right fit. So she created one. Because of Loam, she and so many others are finding — and creating — hope for the future.
How Kate is building a creative community for environmental activists