Take a Seat on the Climate Beat


Cara Buckley and her team at the New York Times have decided to focus on the optimistic side of climate change. They’ve found people acting out on their own to create individual, yet replicable acts that have saved their own unique communities and ecosystems. Verda and Jon have been inspired by this message, and in this episode get the opportunity to talk with Cara about this work and how it can save our planet.


Discover more shows from SURROUND at surroundpodcasts.com.

This episode was produced by Rob Schulte.

Break Some Dishes is presented by Davies Office.


This transcript was partially generated from an automated service, in some cases it may have errors. 

Verda: [00:00:00] Welcome to break some dishes,

Jon: defying the rules to inspire design.

Verda: I’m Verda Alexander.

Jon: And I’m Jon Strasner.

Verda: Jon, so we’re fully immersed in 2024 here.

Jon: Yeah.

Verda: We’ve got a couple episodes under our belt, or maybe just one so far.

Jon: Just one.

Verda: That hopefully our most devoted listeners have already listened to, and we’ve got another exciting episode today.

Jon: Speaking of devoted. So, you know, I’m a huge New York Times fan. I read it all the time. And I don’t know if very many people have like their favorite New York Times reporter, but I do. Right. Um, we’re going to be talking today with. Cara Buckley, who’s the climate beat reporter for the New York times. And I started reading her articles like a year ago and just really, I loved the stories.

I love her optimism. I, I felt like Cara was committed to finding really unique individuals who were making change. And so. I literally hunted her down and pestered her and, you know, until she finally agreed to sit down and chat with us because she is super busy, but I’m really excited to be able to have an episode completely dedicated to talking to Kara Buckley and some of her body of work, which I just think is really inspiring.

And I hope, I hope our designers, I hope our design friends can find inspiration in these stories as well.

Verda: I was just about to mention design in our pre call with Kara. She was a little skeptical about us bringing it back to design. And I don’t know, let the, let the listener be the [00:02:00] judge and would love to hear, hear back what you guys all think, but I feel like everything is by design and even Kara herself is, is by design creating optimism and hope in the world, right?

Jon: Yeah.

Verda: She’s a great example of a miscreant trailblazer and outlaw.

Jon: She’s certainly designing a narrative. Right now, and it’s a narrative that I think we could all benefit from, from reading and listening to

Verda: all right, well, let’s have a listen.

Cara: I am looking to find people who are working towards climate solutions. And there is a big and necessary discussion in the climate space about how much or how little a person should feel like they can do. You know, there obviously needs to be broad sweeping systemic changes in order to avert worsening environmental disasters all over the world.

But my focus is on people who are really having an impact in ways that can be replicated. Around their community, the country, etc. And so I, like you said, I really sort of focus on people who are, in what we often say at the Times, in ways big and small, just really working towards fixing things. It could be somebody who fought their homeowners association for the right to plant native plants in their garden, which helps pollinators and, you know, which we need.

desperately. It could be somebody like Domingo Morales, who I profiled, who is trying to bring or is bringing composting to public housing in New York City. I think these are stories we really need. Um, we need to cover the scary parts of the climate crisis. We need to hold people accountable who are not working to reverse course.

Um, but we [00:04:00] also need to look at it. You know, sort of these bright spots in a dark story. And so that’s really the focus of of my beat.

Jon: You definitely find a silver lining in so much of this conversation. And that’s one of the things that I think we really appreciate.

Verda: If we just keep focusing on The three point whatever degrees or all of this negative stuff.

We’re going to just, we’re going to lose people. We’re not going to be able to bring people along if there isn’t hope. And so I think that’s a huge part of it. Right, Jon?

Jon: Yeah, I think so. And cause I think our journey has evolved, you know, since we started podcasting, we were both sort of individually.

Vested in this conversation and kind of doing our own thing. And we got together and, and began this podcast. And I would even say that during the course of the podcast, we’ve changed and the way we look at things have changed. And I’m really curious, Cara, if you. Could look back at sort of where you were when you began this journey and where you are today and how you’ve evolved.

Cara: I was obsessed with what was going on with the climate like for years before I joined the climate team. I mean, I would be the Debbie Downer. at the dinner party, who if someone was saying, Oh, it’s a really nice day outside. It’s 70 degrees. I’m saying it shouldn’t be 70 in New York in December, for God’s sakes.

Um, every bit of plastic I would see would pain me. I would walk into supermarkets being like, this is all ending up in the landfill. And that was sort of not the least of the problems. Of course, you know, massive extinctions. People You know, no longer able to grow food on their land, people being forced to migrate because, you know, they can’t survive due to climate change where, you know, their historic homes are.

It is a very [00:06:00] scary story. Um, and I kind of didn’t know how to cope with it. Like I felt like chicken little, but the sky is falling. So yeah. And so. Yeah, it 2019 at the time I was on the New York Times culture desk. I had been the Oscars reporter amongst a myriad of different beats I’ve covered for the paper.

And I wrote an op ed about trying to come to terms with my climate grief. And One of the things that really struck me as I was doing interviews for that piece was I talked to several people who really resonated with me, had both been climate activists and had a huge crisis of faith where they had to sort of drop, they couldn’t, the fight just they kept losing battle after battle, be it trying to save public lands, trying to save old growth forests, and they sort of dropped out and had long dark nights of the soul that lasted weeks, months, and in one case, years.

They both found a spiritual answer, they both happened to turn to Buddhism, but really what resonated with me was what one of them said was, listen, there’s so many people working to fix this. Like, we never hear that part of the story. It’s not just that you need hope, it’s also as journalists, we have to focus on the whole picture.

And truly, as dark and devastating as the news is in many, many facets of climate, and we have to cover this too. There’s also this, there’s never been more people aware of it. There’s never been more people trying to fix it. There’s never been more people really thinking about where does my food come from?

How can I maybe eat differently, conduct my life differently? How can I do things differently? You know, in ways that’ll And then as journalists we have to cover this story. So for me, writing about people who are working towards fixes and I, I’m not saying they’re fixing it, because this thing needs every fix in the book, but that focus, you know, [00:08:00] Just to get a little philosophical, if I can for a second, like, what you focus on is kind of your life, you know, and writing about people really working towards making things better, often on a very local scale, it was a way for me to engage in the story and produce things that weren’t depressing, frankly, and also that it was something that people needed to hear.

People needed to hear You know, like, oh, wow, you know, in Kentucky, in the heart of coal country, there’s somebody building a giant solar facility on the top of an abandoned strip mine and hiring out of work coal miners to do the installation. Like, who would have thunk it? And the people really like it.

And. locally because it’s bringing jobs. I mean, these are stories that are happening all over the world. So for me, it was just kind of basic journalism to cover it, to cover these tales and to seek them out.

Verda: I love that arc. Um, I feel like you’ve got to hold that grief in some way, but then put it into positive action.

And I love this. I love, you’re also giving examples to people of just what they can do in their own backyard that actually does have and can have a much bigger ripple effect impact, it’s incredible.

Cara: Oh, I’m trying. I think too that, you know, I mean, we’re, as humans, like we tell stories, you know, like individual human stories, they matter, they can buoy you, they can, you know, light the path along the way.

And a lot of these People are, like you said, they’re not, they’re doing it out of a, this is what they want to do. They’re not doing it out of a sense of guilt or foreboding. They’re often finding real joy in it. And that’s sort of carrying them along, you know, in the midst of, you know, definitely very trying times.

Um, it can be infectious, you know, that sort of buoyancy [00:10:00] in the face of great odds, in the face of a very difficult. And painful story. And Virta, what you said, you know, you’ve got to hold the grief. Like one of the people who really impacted me back when I was writing the climate grief op ed in 2019 was a woman named Joanna Macy.

She’s in her, I think, late 90s now. But she started doing workshops in the 70s around getting people together to Process their environmental grief, and she said something that a lot of people who have gone through loss have heard, which is like the other side of grief is love. So how do you express that?

Um, and that’s what a lot of people say, you know, you have to sort of fall in love with the world again to want to save it. And so this is sort of bringing good vibes. You know, if you’re doing something that makes you feel good, you know, all it’s it helps carry you along. Um,

Jon: I think that what you say about like your own mental well being is really important.

And I really love hearing that. I also think that, you know, we can’t be all doom and gloom, you know, and I know that last time we talked, we talked about an article you wrote called, you know, okay, Doomer, which was sort of a play on okay boomer. And it, I think that. This is a movement and a movement needs leaders.

It doesn’t at this point need more scientists more data. I think we have the science we need. I think we have the data we need. Yeah, it’s always going to get better and it’s going to continue to tell a better, more accurate story. But I think what you’re managing to do is you’re managing to find voices and leaders in this movement that We can relate to and we want to relate to.

It’s not like, Oh, my God, here comes Cara again. Let’s quick find something to do because she’s going to tell us the sky’s falling, you know,

Cara: which it is, by the way. No, I’m just kidding. Yeah, no, I mean, I just it’s sort of taking a page to from. [00:12:00] Well, this is a bit of a leap, but, um, there’s A filmmaker named Luis Hoyas, who did a wonderful film that he won a documentary.

He was a former National Geographic photographer and did a film called The Cove that won the Oscar about 12 years ago. Difficult film about dolphin slaughter in Japan. I mean, it was really rough. It was heartbreaking, and he did a couple more films about that, sort of highlighting, you know, the really painful things that we’re doing to animals.

So what he realized was, okay, he has an agenda, you know, he wants people to really switch towards a plant based diet. Um, you know, just because it’s better for animals. And so instead of focusing on that, the hard, painful, heartbreaking, hard to look at side of things, he did a film called The Game Changers that completely focused on world class athletes, top of their game, who switched to plant based diets and how that impacted them performance wise and health wise.

And I just remember After the film came out, all these like agents in Hollywood, and I was still covering Hollywood at the time, we would hang out for meetings or something, or we’d go to a restaurant, and they were like, Oh, I’m vegan. And I just thought, What? Like, what’s going on here? All these people and they’d all seen the film.

And it left you the film just focused on here’s how this helps you. Here’s how this is better for your diet. It didn’t mention the planet. It didn’t mention animals. But it’s focusing on here’s how things actually can be a benefit. You know, just to you, to your health, to your well being, to how you sleep, et cetera, and to these athletes and their performances, and it’s just highlighting a different aspect of it.

And I think You know, it helped people feel good about making a change instead of being like, Oh, I got to give this thing up.

Jon: Yeah.

Cara: You know, there’s a lot of reward in doing [00:14:00] things that feel good for you that are good actions for the planet. So it’s sort of, you know, In this, in a similar vein, I would say, in terms of what I’m covering.

Jon: People aren’t all mean. Like, we don’t all want to destroy the planet. So, you know, there’s an awareness here that needs to happen. I, I watched the documentary Seaspiracy. And I’m not exaggerating. I have not eaten fish since I watched that.

Cara: Yeah. You’re not alone in that one. Yeah.

Jon: Because now I’m aware of how horrible the commercial fishing industry is in so many ways, and I don’t want to be a part of it.

Cara: Yeah. And it’s fun being a rebel against the food system. Oh yeah.

Verda: Yeah. Something that, you know, in our industry, we talk about quite a bit is like, there’s so many ways to approach the problem, the climate problem or, and, and you, you want to approach it from where you’re, where your North star is pointing.

We don’t all point to the same North and where, what our interests are and. As a designer, if your main interest is human health, you can focus on that. You can start taking toxics out of the materials that you, that you specify. And just by doing that, you’re, it’s a domino effect. You’re improving the environment somewhere else.

You’re, you’re using materials that may be. didn’t come from as toxic of a plant. And so it’s really about accessibility. And I think that’s kind of what we’re talking about. How can you access this problem? How can you make an impact on this problem in small ways? If we all, if we all chip away at it, right?

Cara: I agree with that. And I think that, you know, certainly our readers point out though, like when we do highlight the stories, it’s like, Oh, you’re putting all the blame on one person. Person or you’re saying it’s up to us to fix this. And I don’t I reject the binary of, you know, it has to be systemic or it has to be individual.

I’m like, Well, why don’t we just use everything we have available like systemic and individual? I mean, after Greta Thunberg [00:16:00] became, you know, went viral her her her school strikes for climate. You know, flights, the number of people going on, hopping on planes in Sweden dipped, you know, for the first time. I mean, all of these things can have ripple effects.

Um, Mayor Eric Adams, controversial mayor in New York City, but he eats mostly plant based and as a result of his policies, 11 of the city’s public hospitals serve Plant based food is the first and second default option for patients. It’s great for the hospital’s emissions rates in terms of food. It’s also great for the patient’s health.

So he’s a controversial mayor. You know, you can find loads of critics, et cetera, and just, you know, you have very good reasons for being critics, but that was, you know, one person whose impact and sort of commitment to plant based has a very interesting ripple effect on this front.

Verda: Yeah, it’s like stand up for what you believe in because you don’t know what that ripple effect is going to be like the couple in Maryland that right.

They just wanted to not plant a lawn and they ended up changing the law in Maryland.

Cara: Yeah,

Verda: which like I’m sure that wasn’t their intent going. No.

Cara: And that’s, you know, and that was a really so that couple, they’re, they’re really amazing. The crouches in Maryland, they just wanted to plant pollinating pollinator friendly flowers and bushes.

Yeah. you know, in their garden. And they really, this was an effort around the state. You know, they, they were encouraged. Um, Janet Crouch’s sister was a native plant gardener and they planted and they thought that was fine, but then, a neighbor who really hated the look of sort of, I guess he felt it was too wild.

I don’t know, and unruly. He wouldn’t respond. He would not comment for the piece, but he ended up complaining enough to the homeowners association and the homeowners association said, listen, you have to Rip out these, these [00:18:00] gardens of yours and plant a lawn and they fought back and they really went out on a ledge, an expensive ledge to hire a lawyer.

I mean, this was on them, you know, they at many points along their struggle, they, you know, they’re pouring so much money into this. But then finally, it Caught the, you know, notice of a state legislator. They, I think they’re at a community, I don’t know what, and they met up with a state legislator and it did end up changing state law in Maryland where homeowners association can no longer tell you that you have to keep a lawn that you, you know, you can, you have to rip out plants that are pollinator friendly.

I mean, they didn’t know they were making this big leap. It was scary. Who wants to fight your neighbors? But, you know, it, it ended up and. People around the country are doing this, you know, I mean, not of all, not all are successful. It’s scary, you know, but yeah, it ended up having this really amazing ripple effect and expensive and expensive.


Jon: I think what you’re finding to Cara, especially with this couple of Maryland is, you know, we get our, our social cues. From our community, right? We that’s how we decide this is wrong. I’m going to do something about it. Or this is right. And and when you ignore the social cues of your community because you feel strongly about something, um, that that says a lot about a person’s character.

Because I just read, um, you know, there’s a Yale survey that came out a while back. Um, I’m just now catching up on it, but basically the survey said that, um, only about 11 percent of Americans are dismissive when it comes to climate action and climate change. Um, 72% Of Americans are agreeing that this is something we need to do something about that 11 percent is so loud and obnoxious that we overrepresent them.

We think [00:20:00] that it’s more than 11%. Yeah. And so we give them way more oxygen in the room than we should, you know, and I, I feel like when we hear about these stories that you’re telling us about, It’s an amazing opportunity to showcase these individual rebels or crusaders and showing that, you know, these are people that we can, um, we, that we can believe in and we can relate to, like, you know, I, I love the story about the, the scientist in Germany that doesn’t want to take a commercial flight.

Cara: Yeah.

Jon: And, you know, And he’s, you know, it’s taken him like 50 days or whatever to travel to the, you know, South America or wherever, where he’s got to do his research, but he’s not going to take a commercial flight.

Cara: He got fired. Yeah. He, he was doing work in Papua New Guinea, you know, it’s a low lying island.

And he made a promise to the people there as he’s doing these, this climate research. No, I’m not gonna, you know, fly to you to do my research, even though I work in Germany. Um, I’m going to. slow travel. And he said he didn’t have a problem. The employer, I don’t know what happened with the employers, they wouldn’t comment, but he refused to fly back and was told, you know, you need to be back in two days.

And he said, well, that’s impossible because I’m not, I’m not flying. I’m going to take, you know, and he had to cross really, you know, You know unfriendly countries, but he figured out a way to do it by plane by boat I think there was a couple of instances that he was forced to jump maybe on a plane But just sort of little puddle jumpers, you know,

Jon: yeah little legs

Cara: But yeah, I think he he is get he’s back in Italy now, but it took him 50 days I mean it would have been a two day trip Trip by me a massive long haul flight, but he refused to do it.

And you know, you think oh, that’s extreme But I think a lot of people that that piece got a ton of readers It got several [00:22:00] hundred thousand readers because I think people are wrestling with this themselves It’s personal people think about this they want to see and this sort of you know, just going back to that 2019 Climate grief op ed when I was talking to people about how they got through their long dark night of the climate grief, um, in their lives, one of them said, just engage where you can, like, do what you can, like, that will make you feel good and that will give you resilience in the face of this story, you know, the story being, and I just want to say, Jon, you know, I do think we need more science, like I need, I think we do need more of everything to get our handle on this, like more science is also revealing You know, species that are actually clawing back their way from the brink.

You know, we need, I think, all sort of aspects of this story to be reported out, um, thoroughly, uh, just sort of to know what’s at stake and also how we can help

Verda: we. I want to honor your time. We have just a couple more questions and These are a little bit more fun. Um, not to give away your trade secrets, but we want it. We maybe, maybe we do want a few tips. How do you find these incredible warriors, unwitting activists

Cara: that are, Oh my God. Okay. Here’s my traits. Are you ready?

Just keep it amongst yourself. I’m writing. Ready? Okay. Yes. We’ll, we’ll mute this. Instagram.

Instagram is one. Podcasts are another. Um, things that my colleagues might mention, like one of the colleagues, a colleague in our team climate slack channel recently in December said, Oh, for those of you [00:24:00] wrestling between real versus fake Christmas trees, this is what they’re doing. You know, the Wildlife Federation had to say about real Christmas trees, and she posted a blog post that said, actually, Christmas tree farms can benefit wildlife, and I thought, that’s a story.

I haven’t heard that story. Who would have thunk it? And then jumped on it. I mean, I just, it’s kind of by hook or crook. Um,

Verda: yeah,

Cara: Google this, that, the other thing, or my editor might hear something, you know, this Um, and I think that this field of focusing on climate solutions, I think it’s widening. I think more and more outlets are focusing on it.

One, my first piece, or it was the second, I was walking past a yard in Long Island while I was out visiting there that looked like the Garden of Eden, and it was surrounded by manicured lawns. And I’ve never seen something so rich with wildlife, so chock a block with vegetation and this and that, and there were birds and butterflies and all, you know, And it turned out the person I knocked on his door and he was a Catholic and an ecologist who believed it was his duty to protect God’s creatures and help them.

So he and his wife had been planting and tending to this garden for 30 years. So that was just me. You know, just wondering, well, what’s going on here? What’s this like to be surrounded by? And I, so I went and knocked on his door. So really anything, but yeah, Instagram

Jon: is

Cara: one of the core

Verda: things.

Cara: Yes.

Verda: Yes, indeed.

I love it. Okay. Another question. Uh, Jon’s Been doing our titles mostly comes up with some really fun ones. One of my favorites is from our first season titled, uh, carbon has a hot body. And coming back, going back to the couple in Maryland is you’ve got some great titles for a lot of your articles. They fought the lawn and the lawns done.

Cara: Do you come up with your titles or do you have, Yes, that one I came up with the first part and then I think another editor An editor came up with the second part, but often I’ll be like wrestling with it and something will fly into my head. Sometimes my editor’s like, no one is going to know [00:26:00] what you’re talking about, so how about this?

But that particular one, yes, I came up with it. I am a Clash fan. I think the Clash though, that was a cover of another song. So anyway, yes, sometimes, yes, but often a group effort. So.

Jon: God, it’s so important to have a title that’s going to make somebody stop scrolling and dig in.

Cara: Right. We’re all in the attention economy.

We’re clawing away. Yes.

Jon: We are. Golly.

Verda: Jon, do you have any final? And I wanted to bring this back to design for Kara, because I mentioned when we When we had our pre talk that I would try, we’ll see, and that won’t take long.

Jon: I think, and, and Kara, you probably don’t know this because, you know, we’re from a pretty small industry, the design and build industry.

And I was telling Verda the other day, we, we really don’t have activists in our industry like we should. I, I believe that we do have designers that want To do the right thing and they want to be rebels, but, um, it’s a difficult decision to make, I think about something just as simple, you know, if we, if, if we had designers that just said, you know what, from now on, we’re, we’re never, ever, ever going to specify PVC period, hard stop, end of sentence, um, we could have huge impact.

But we haven’t gotten that far yet in our industry, you know, and I think that’s one of the things that Verda and I want to do this year in 2024 is stand up at Verda is much better at saber rattling than I am, because I’ve heard Verda stand up and speak to rooms before and, and, you know, I, I can get behind Verda for sure, you know, but we need that.

We need to stop being so civilized and polite and start telling people, you know, you need to do the right thing. Stop going with the flow. That’s the design to this whole thing.

Verda: Well, we do have, uh, Perkins and will has, has made that commitment [00:28:00] and hopefully, like you said, they’re, they’re starting to socialize it.

So hopefully more people will jump on board. And again, that’s just one small thing, but as far as design, you know, my, my philosophy is that everything is by design, everything in the world around us. It’s one of the reasons I went into design. I feel like the environment. That we live in is so important to, to, to inspire and to bring joy.

And, and that’s what designers do. And so our systems are by design. So if you look at it that way, you know, um, our monetary system, our freeways, our cities, of course, and. Well, not to go back to the couple of Maryland, but the their lawns, right? Those are mm hmm. That’s landscape architecture So a lot of this and and by you Dave, you know, he’s beautifying the bayou So cleaning it up and and bring preserving that natural

Cara: There’s also, I mean, a story I did earlier this year.

It was about tiny forests. There’s a way of growing forests in a, in tiny spaces. Like you can have an entire self sufficient forest, um, in an area the size of a tennis court. Hundreds are being planted. around the world, thousands, um, in England in particular, these tiny, hyper dense, they’re ecological oases.

They cool cities down. People love them. Wildlife loves them. The soil is teeming with, you know, biodiverse little critters and beneficial fungus. This is happening and it’s design and people love it. I mean, who, trees on streets are, it’s design. It’s enormously important to offset that. urban heat island effect, which is, you know, like when you’re walking through Manhattan and there are no trees, you’re like, it’s like walking literally in an oven, right?

But if you have trees, the shade, the benefits, the cooling, it’s huge. There’s just so many ways of incorporating, you know, a sort of more mindful way of [00:30:00] bringing, you know, helping nature out and helping humans out. process.

Jon: Tiny forests with big benefits.

Cara: Tiny forests with big benefits. Yeah.

Verda: We have to be able to imagine a future, a better future in order to act now.

And these are examples of a different, a different aesthetic and. I think one that’s quite beautiful and that we can embrace.

Cara: And that title, by the way, I thought, tiny forests everywhere. And my editor said, no one’s going to know what that means. So that was an example of

Jon: a

Cara: hybrid approach on the title.

Jon: Teamwork makes the dream work. Well, and I just want to, Kara, you, you may not agree with me completely, but in listening to you today and in, you know, reading through your body of work, you know, You’ve used the word holistic a few times today, and that’s a very much a design type of word, right? Good design is holistic, right?

And this is a systemic problem and it needs a holistic solution. And Cara, in a sense, you’re a designer. You’re, you’re helping to design a narrative. You’re helping to design a narrative here.

Cara: I guess. I mean, honestly, design is not my focus. I would be well out of my depth there, but yes, sure, what I’m focusing on is certainly part of the story.

You know, it’s there’s like I said, there’s so many people working on it in almost every industry you can think of, you know, a lot of people working against it, but a lot of people working for it. There’s never been more people, you know, trying to work on this and tackle it.

Jon: Yeah. I have one more question and then I’m done asking you questions, Cara.

But you recently, uh, wrote a little bit about climate week in New York and how, you know, it’s, it was sort of like the burning man for, you know, environmental geeks, climate geeks. And I actually tried to go to some, Things at Climate Week and I like, I couldn’t get in. It was like, uh, there’s no, there’s no, there’s [00:32:00] no more spots.

All the only thing that I could do was I did the protest march, you know, Sunday, uh, in the city, which was a great, um, experience. But what was your take on Climate Week?

Cara: Oh, I found it overwhelming. There were so many, I didn’t go to Sliver of the events. I forget how many there were hundreds, maybe thousands of events.

I think it’s great. People are talking about it, you know, or that it’s at this level, which was bonkers. Um, but very, you know, my take is that I think for people who I was talking to Catherine Hayhoe about it. She’s this amazing climate scientist. And she was saying, you know, I can talk to everybody in one place.

So instead of want, you know, having 43 zooms or flying around the country to talk with all these people, I can do a lot of work in this one space. So I think for people deep, deep within the climate space, it’s very helpful for me on the outside. Trying to, you know, get in. My inbox was a dumpster fire. I mean, I probably was getting a pitch every two minutes.

I was completely overwhelmed. So that, I don’t know if that’s my take, but that’s certainly how I, it was just, it was a lot. But, you know, again, there’s never been, it’s never been as big. There’s never been more people working on it. There’s never been more people freaked out, heartbroken and hopeful. So.

There you go.

Verda: It’s encouraging. All right. Well, thank you, Cara. We could keep going. This has been such a great conversation.

Jon: Cara, thanks for giving us some more of your time today.

Cara: Thank you so much for inviting me. It’s lovely chatting with you guys. I

Jon: want to reflect on our conversation with Kara. What did you think about talking to Kara Buckley?

Verda: Oh my goodness. What an amazing person. My number one reflection was she was sitting there in her New York times podcasting booth and I [00:34:00] just could just. I could sense the energy and the excitement. Like I would just love to be her. I would love to be the climate beat reporter for the New York times. I can’t imagine a job that’s, Oh yeah.

Jon: Dream job.

Verda: That’s more impactful. She’s, she writes a couple of articles a month at least. She’s constantly looking, looking for stories for. those people fighting the good fight, right?

Jon: Yeah. Yeah. I’ll tell you what, she kind of flipped me a little bit. I wasn’t, I was surprised. I think that if I were the, if I were in Cara Buckley’s shoes, I might be over the top depressing doom and gloom.

I think I might fall into that rabbit hole of, Oh my God, another terrible story. Oh my God. And this is happening. Another disaster, another, I think I would just be one disaster after another, but What she and her team have done is mind blowing because they are looking for individuals. They’re not looking for outliers.

You know, they’re looking for people that have just. Decided to be an activist for change and Cara wants to find people whose work is replicable so that you and I can read these stories and say, Holy shit, I could do that. I’m going to do that. Right. And I think that’s like awesome. And she has remained so optimistic, you know, with a sliver of realistic in there.


Verda: And we talked about this a long time ago on several of our episodes about news, the idea of news and the word new is in news for a reason.

Jon: Right.

Verda: And what a lot of these journalistic enterprises need to do is to, to make things, even if they aren’t new, make them seem new. And one of the best ways to do that is to.

To take that kind of negative or apocalyptic spin, depressing spin to it, to get us to pay attention. And I think what’s great about what Kara’s doing is that it’s, she’s taking the opposite approach, [00:36:00] right? She’s bringing us the hopeful stories.

Jon: I think it sets the tone for our entire season, which I’m, you know, I, I couldn’t be more excited about.

Verda: Yeah. Jon, I’m glad you have stalked her.

Jon: and I’m glad she didn’t, you know, have me arrested.

Verda: Okay. It’s now the moment our listeners have been waiting for the hot seat . We still. I know, Jon. I just

Jon: think we need something, you know, Rob, Rob’s with us right now, Schulte, our producer, and we need something like some, like some music or something that happens every time you say, okay, it’s time for the hot seat that it should be like, but up, but up, up, up, bam, you know, we need like Jack Black riffing for us.

Verda: Jon, you wanted to give the Listeners, some homework. Yeah. I have something for the hot seat today because I’d like to get, I’d like to get this hot seat going and get everybody excited about it.

Jon: Yeah. I’ve got hot seat homework for our listeners today. Sorry if you don’t like homework, but you know, um, we’re going to be talking to, and I’m really an amazing individual in our next episode.

His name is Bayou Dave. And so I want to encourage everybody listening today. Take a moment. Google Bayou Dave. New York times. Uh, there’s actually a couple of articles that the New York times have written about by you, Dave. But if you Google by you, Dave, you will, you will find him. He is, he is not hard to find.

So that’s, that’s our listeners hotseat homework assignment. Until next episode.

Verda: Awesome. Well, I have a hot seat.

Jon: Yeah. You got a surprise.

Verda: Yeah. Hot seat. I’m going to put you on the hot seat, Jon.

Jon: Oh, you got to put me on the hot seat. Oh, all right.

Verda: Why not? So this hot seat real quick. This hot seat all started at green build last [00:38:00] year in San Francisco.

We were doing some impromptu podcast and we brought on designers and ask them just a couple of quick fun questions. And so I think going forward, we may we’re going to probably recruit some designers to send in some hot seats. seek questions to, to Rob. If we can, we might get a few on, on the air live.

And then we may just hot seat each other every once in a while, like I’m going to do now. So inspired by Bayou Dave, you know, he, he loves his environment at the Bayou. That’s what wakes him up in the morning. And I just would love to know, what is your natural environment? You’re from Connecticut, a beautiful place.

And, Very beautiful place in the world. What is, what is the environment that inspires you? Where do you go out to nature?

Jon: I am really fortunate that I live very close to the Farmington river and it’s, uh, you know, it’s a beautiful river that runs into the Connecticut river. It’s fed by the Housatonic river.

And, um, Is known for its trout fishing, but there’s a lot of kayaking and canoeing that can happen there, too, and so I, um, I see the Farmington River almost every day. I see it, you know, after rain when it’s, uh, you know, when it’s at its highest moments. Okay,

Verda: time’s up. This must be a final question. Oh,

Jon: shit!

I forgot! I was, I was really, I was really starting to ruminate

Verda: and

Jon: when I was a wee lad, I used to.

Verda: You’re done. That’s lovely. It sounds beautiful. I want to see a picture. Okay. Next question. I got two, no more than three questions. One, one to three questions on the hot seat. Okay. This one is an either or you can answer the first part of the second part.


Jon: I’m going to be quick.

Verda: Who would be your absolute dream guest on this podcast? Or If I got sick, heaven forbid, or whatever, and couldn’t podcast with you, who would be your dream co host? You can answer either one.

Jon: Oh, dream, dream guest would be Jane Goodall.

Verda: Ooh. Right.

Jon: Right.

Verda: All right. Last question.

What have you recycled today so far? [00:40:00] Also in anticipation of Bayou Dave’s episode.

Jon: Oh, you’re going to love this because I just ordered. a bunch of glass storage stuff on TikTok, and I’m getting rid of all of, I’m going to stop storing things in plastic containers. That’s my resolution for 2024.

Verda: Love it.

Great answer. All right, Jon, you did the hot seat successfully. You’re on the other side. I

Jon: don’t know how successful that was, but I wouldn’t, you know, you caught me by surprise. So

Verda: cool. Thanks to Cara for joining us today. We’d love to hear about the issues that you’d like us to address. Be sure to let us know by leaving a positive review wherever you listen to podcasts.

You can also ask your hot seat questions there.

Jon: Break Some Dishes is a surround podcast by Sandow Design Group. Thanks to the team behind the scenes. This episode is produced by Rob Schulte and edited by Rob Adler. Thanks to master and dynamic for the official headphones of the surround network. You can hear other podcasts like this one at surroundpodcasts.



Break Some Dishes

Defying the rules to inspire design. Under the lens of creativity, Verda Alexander and Jon Strassner explore the environmental crises that face the global community.

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