LISTEN: Brian Bienkowski on amplifying diverse voices through podcasting

"I get a lot of hope in talking to them about where the field can go from here."

The microphone is turned today as host Brian Bienkowski joins the Agents of Change in Environmental Justice podcast to discuss environmental justice reporting, how this podcast came together, and plans to grow the program.


Bienkowski, senior editor at Environmental Health and editor of the Agents of Change program, talks about what he's learned from the fellows, his favorite highlights and moments from the first season, and exciting new plans and directions for the podcast.

The Agents of Change in Environmental Justice podcast is a biweekly podcast featuring the stories and big ideas from past and present fellows, as well as others in the field. You can see all of the past episodes here.

Listen below to our discussion with Bienkowski, and subscribe to the podcast at iTunes, Spotify, or Stitcher.

Transcript 

Ami Zota

Hi everyone, I am excited to be the host of today's podcast episode where we get to put our regular host Brian Bienkowski in the hot seat. So, Brian is a senior editor at Environmental Health News, and he is also the lead editor of the Agents of Change in Environmental Justice program. And you may know his voice quite well because he is the lead producer and host of our podcast, and so we decided to do something different today, and I'm going to interview Brian for change. Hi Brian. How are you,

Brian Bienkowski

I'm doing wonderful today, how are you doing?

Ami Zota

Doing well, it is very hot here in Washington DC. Where are you recording from today, where are you?

Brian Bienkowski

So I live in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, on the eastern half of the Upper Peninsula, so just south of a town called Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. It's actually the third oldest city in the US, so it is a tribal community, the Sault Ste. Marie tribe of Chippewa Indians live here, and have a large presence so it's pretty interesting historically. And yeah, I live on the St. Marys river just south of Lake Superior.

Ami Zota

Sounds beautiful. How long have you have you lived in that community?

Brian Bienkowski

So I have been here for, let's see, six years, just shy of six years. We moved up here, and I lived all over before but mostly in much larger cities than where I'm at now.

Ami Zota

And are you experiencing a heatwave like much of the rest of the country right now?

Brian Bienkowski

Luckily the Upper Peninsula is a one of the coldest regions in the country, so our summers are, other than the black flies and the mosquitoes, it is beautiful up here. We get some humidity, and all that, but it is rare for us to get above 80. So it's, it's pretty pleasant.

Ami Zota

That's great. So how long have you practiced journalism? Can you tell us a bit about your background?

Brian Bienkowski

Of course, so I was, I went to the Michigan State University's Knight Center for Environmental Journalism, I got my master's degree about a decade ago. So I had a very specific interest and focus on reporting on the environment, so it's been about a decade. And it started really, falling in love with the Great Lakes. I grew up in Michigan and it was just feeling every time I reached a great lake, went over a dune, or visited a lake, and I still get this even living up here near Lake Superior, just a sense of awe, really. Really feeling the sense of awe and wonder, like, I'm sure people do with mountains and the oceans, but for me it was these big freshwater lakes. And I realized when I was older, that they were not as big and, they were vulnerable, essentially. When I was little, they just felt like these big behemoth lakes that could do no, could have no problems associated with them, and then I started realizing how many problems they had. So I started reporting on the Great Lakes, and then that led me to other types of environmental reporting, and really started focusing on people when I got to Environmental Health News. And that was my first job out of my master's program and I've, and I've never worked anywhere else since.

Ami Zota

I know you have, even with your job at Environmental Health News, you've always been interested and committed to reporting on issues related to environmental injustice. How did those interest come about.

Brian Bienkowski

Yeah. So it went from, again it went from this very Great Lakes kind of biodiversity focus, which I still love, I just I'm a real nature nerd and I love that stuff. But I realized all of these stories, what makes them stronger and what makes them important and what makes them read is, is people. It's the human element. So my very first assignment at Environmental Health News, we had, I had a fantastic editor Marla Cohn, who was a mentor and taught me so much. And she was in the middle of this project when she hired me called "Pollution, poverty, and people of color." So it was a whole big environmental justice series focused on different communities across the country, from, from Anniston, Alabama, where there's been legacy PCBs, to Richmond, California and the oil refineries. So I was tasked immediately, after writing about basically writing about lakes for two years, to find an environmental justice story somewhere in the Great Lakes region. So I wrote about a proposed Eagle Rock mine up in, just north of Marquette, Michigan in the Upper Peninsula that was on sacred Indigenous ground for the Keweenaw Bay Indian community. So that was my first, first big feature where I really dove in and talked to a community about how this was not only going to maybe contaminate the environment and the natural resources that I had paid attention to for so much, but a culture. Their, their ability to practice traditional ways and harvest fish and teach language. So it was a, it was a real eye opener in terms of how this environmental pollution can not only pollute the water, the air of the soil, but, but communities and people. And seeing that it was more poignant for this Indigenous community, of course went on to realize this was not just of course for Indigenous communities—I reported in Detroit on a lot of the disparate more disproportionate impacts on the Black community, and it just kind of snowballed from there and EHN has always had a real environmental justice focus, so it just kind of became a beat, a beat of mine.

Ami Zota

It's always fun to hear how people's careers evolve, and take them in new and unanticipated directions. Which brings me to the Agents of Change program. Can you talk a little bit about how you got involved and what the experience has been like?

Brian Bienkowski

Sure, yeah. Well, of course we've known each other from afar, never met in person. But I, in addition to environmental justice I write a lot about endocrine disruption and toxics and kind of these insidious chemicals. So you of course were a trusted source of mine and one of the researchers that I not only respected the work, but you were just top of the, you know, quote unquote Rolodex of somebody that I knew I could count on to pick up the phone. And also have, have expertise and really intelligent and contextual things to say. So, when you started talking about this program, and you brought it to us, we kind of evaluated where we were at as an organization covering environmental justice for years. And then we had this other portion of EHN which is, we really invite scientists to often write op-eds, to write about their expertise to kind of give us the firsthand without a journalistic filter. And we feel like, in pursuit of environmental justice in a healthier and more sustainable society, these, these two, these two buckets that we pull our content from, you know journalists reporting and scientists really giving us a firsthand scientific account—were getting us to this, to our mission. And then when you brought this program to us and when we thought about it, it just seemed like a perfect melding of those two worlds. So now we have scientists who have this expertise on a certain field but who also can tell, tell a story. Who have maybe lived through some of these problems they're studying, or they know community members who have. So it just seemed like a perfect intersection of these two worlds. And really, it has been. We've seen an outpouring of support for the program. And we really feel like it's pushing us closer to our mission than we were before we started.

Ami Zota

Yeah and I feel like at this point I have to mention the name Pete Myers, because he, well, he is the founder of Environmental Health News. But he is also a big connector and it was kind of his lightbulb idea when I first shared the early seeds of Agents of Change that said, you know, contact Douglas and Brian. And he put us in touch. So, you know, a nod to Pete Myers.

Brian Bienkowski

Yeah, and… I'm sorry there. I just wanted to say there's, as I get further in my career I'm realizing that words like "he's a connector," there are these skillsets that people have that they don't teach you in school or whatever, and Pete is a connector. And, and I can say this about you having worked with you, and I didn't know this before, you're a leader. And there are these little, there's these skill sets that I don't know if people are born with them or, you know, you acquire them, but you don't necessarily learn them in school. And it's, it's that connection aspect of Pete that's been really helpful, and working with someone like you, who's a leader has been really helpful. So, yeah.

Ami Zota

Wow, that is, uh, I appreciate you saying that. And it is funny because I feel like we've grown this program together and, you know, we've never met in person, which is just rad, right? To, it would never have been possible like three years ago, so, right. I mean, when I go around and I tell people all about this program, you know. I am so, you know, kind of from the start, very humble in the fact that there's no way me as an academic scientist alone could have grown this program and made it so successful. I think it's really, it's combination of the kind of science and the journalism, you know, collectively centering equity. So, you know it, I think it just shows you the power of collaborating with people kind of outside of your, the way you think, and the power of that. And I hope our program can help encourage people to do that more.

Brian Bienkowski

Yeah, and and why not? You know, so for years, I mentioned you were a source. It was this kind of, at arm's length, someone I called when I needed quotes and context, right. But throughout all that, and this isn't just you, a lot of researchers I talked to, we have a shared goal, right? We're trying to get at truth, we're trying to get at equity, we're trying to get at a less polluted world. I mean, we have all these goals, and really science and journalism have a lot of overlap where we're on a kind of truth-finding mission and we're trying to get that information out. So why not collaborate, right, why not? It seems like a no brainer, and I'm glad that we are where we are.

Ami Zota

Yeah, I think a lot of scientists are afraid. Um, they're, you know they're afraid of the media, I think it's a landscape they're not familiar with. I think it's a landscape where they feel like they don't have control of the message. And, you know, and so I think they, and they don't, they don't get the training on how to, um, you know, to translate their work to different audiences. And so, I think a lot of people just, you know, kind of have these, like, "I won't do it. I won't go there." And, and what I've learned over time is, you know, the media is your biggest megaphone and, you know, if journalists understand these issues, well, it's a big service to the entire field. Because they, you know, they are the gatekeepers to so much information. And so, it's, it's a worthwhile endeavor to engage with at least some journalists, if not necessarily all. I mean, speaking of journalism, I, you know, I want to kind of take the thread that you said about kind of pushing the mission of how this program, Agents of Change has helped push the mission of Environmental Health News, and kind of explore that a little bit. So in Agents of Change, we talk a lot about increasing diversity inclusion in science and academia but media also has a racism problem. Do you see media differently because of, because of your involvement with Agents of Change.

Brian Bienkowski

Yeah, I don't know if it's differently. I think what the program has done has shined a spotlight on some of the things that I saw before. I mean, so my, you know I was interested in a lot of these issues before and in thinking about diversity in journalism and science. And I think what it's done is kind of magnified them for me. The number one thing that I've noticed with the program, and just thinking about it and talking to these folks who are just really excellent people, and this isn't just a plug for Agents of Change. I mean they are so, so intelligent, have done so many things, is the reliance on so few voices in the media. You know, I could go right now to Twitter or wherever, Google News, and the top three or four climate stories, I could probably tell you who's going to be quoted in at least a couple of them. And that's not to say that those climate scientists aren't fantastic, and maybe they've made it their, their career goal to be the go-to person. And I won't name names because they are, they're excellent scientists. But there are so many other voices out there. And I think it's, and I think that's a problem on the media side. And I would like to at least acknowledge the fact that journalists are often working on short deadlines, and they know, just like you were somebody I knew I could call, when we find somebody who will talk to us and they pick up the phone and they have good things to say, we use them. So I think it's just a function of the news cycle, part of it. Part of it's a blind spot. So there's many reasons, but that's one thing, that's one thing I've really noticed with the program. Another thing, and again this isn't, this isn't new to me, but it's really shined a light on the idea of how much, how much work we have to do? I know, you know Yoshi for example mentioned she was the first Latina woman to graduate from her PhD program. And Reagan Patterson said she was the first Black woman to give a commencement speech. I mean, these, these to me are crazy things to hear, in 2021. Of course, perhaps I shouldn't be surprised, but to hear it from multiple, multiple fellows, the idea that they're the first, of their race or their sexual orientation or whatever, to go through a program is, is baffling. And I think it speaks to the need to elevate these voices and push for diversity in these programs so that is a thing of the past. That's not mentioned anymore, it seems, it seems archaic. Yeah, and you know there's been a couple themes that have, kind of threads, that have gone throughout too. And this isn't so much how I think about the media, but I think most of them have kind of expressed, there's a lot of hope. I think I've gotten a lot of hope, in the sense of a lot of opportunity. When I think about the field of environmental health, it seems like if you would've asked me five years ago, I mean, it's improving. But, you know, what else can we do, we can find toxics in people, we can find the climate is warming this much, and we can tell them about that, and use this to push for policy, and you know that's what science is. It's an institution that is, that is kind of firm in where it's at. And talking to the fellows, it seems like, well no, there's a hell of a lot more we can do. There's a lot more we can push here. And a lot of it, a lot of their suggestions have to do with really involving the community and making sure the science is focused on helping the people that you're studying. And they've opened my eyes to a lot of blind spots and missed opportunities in the field so far. So I get a lot of hope, in talking to them about where we can, where the field can go from here.

Ami Zota

I agree. They're, they give me a lot of hope and, you know, I feel like this program is, it's value added, right. It's, I really feel like we're really creating a lot of value in the world by, you know, helping the fellows cultivate these ideas and then importantly, giving them the platform to do that. And improving their skill set in, in talking about their big ideas in simple accessible ways. So, lots of value added.

Brian Bienkowski

Yeah and there's something to be said for, you know, I think, you know, diversity has become, it's become a buzzword, right, it's everywhere now. But the, the value isn't "hey let's get people who look different" or whatever, I mean, the value when you talk to folks. You know, Dana comes to mind. Dana grew up, you know where I'm from. She grew up in Detroit. And where she grew up to where she's at now, you can see the thread of where those experiences in Detroit brought her to be able to kind of really examine where environmental justice programs are working and where they're not. So it's not, it's not just let's be diverse, it's this diversity of thought, this diversity of experience, coming from these places where a lot of people in academia don't come from. It totally adds value it makes the field better, and that's, that's become really obvious to me too.

Ami Zota

Absolutely, giving them the chance to really express themselves and cultivate this authentic voice, right. So, right, just be, like, you know, just because someone's Brown in academia, doesn't necessarily, you know, that's not the point. It's, it's kind of, you know, trying to expand journalism and scientific institutions to be more accepting and open to, to these new ideas, which, you know, what we're showing is these new ideas, right. That will help us get out of the social environmental crisis, these are directly linked to people's lived experience. And you know one thing, the one way I think about this program, I recently heard this is, you know, we, we don't want, we don't just want a seat at the table we want to create a whole new table, right. Um, so right, so thanks for sharing some of the things you've learned from the program and fellows. Now I want to talk about the podcast. Something, you know, this was your idea, and you've taken it from an idea to, you know, a great success. A lot of people say the favorite part of the program is our podcast. Can you tell us a little bit about that process and the journey.

Brian Bienkowski

Sure, yeah, so I'd never done this. I've never done much audio, I know some audio editing only from playing music but not from any kind of podcast or interviewing or anything like that. So it was all learning on the fly and learning how to do this, and, you know. Basically we, we just plugged in and started talking to folks. That was, that was how we got going. We are lucky to have a little bit of—I had some time with the fellows, with the first ones that I interviewed, which is, which is really helpful because to trying to interview someone without any background is, obviously, you just can't do that. So just a lot of background research and, and spending time trying to get to know them beforehand. And then, you know, really taking a two pronged approach, getting to know the research, of course, the research and what makes them tick. Why they study what they study, but as much as I possibly can, I want to get to know people as people. And I would imagine that is why it's one of our more popular aspects of the program. Humans are interested in other humans, it's just a thing. It's, it is why NPR is so wildly successful, you know, some of those very story driven programs, we just like hearing people's voice and their story. And so, I think it's evolved a little bit where I am really trying to get at the person as much as I possibly can. And why they do what they do and why this is important to them. Because I think that's, that's where, that's where you can really connect with people. I think the research is the broccoli and the human aspect is the steak on the plate, you know, so to speak. So yeah and, and we've, you know, we've made little changes like sending people microphones, you know, trying to get our audio quality better. But really it was just plug in and start talking, and, and yeah it's been, it's been a lot of fun. I've learned a lot.

Ami Zota

Can you know, think back to, I think we recorded the first episode last fall. And I think Ans was your, the first fellow you interviewed. And now I think we're on Episode 15, or so, you know, what's changed?

Brian Bienkowski

I think naturally, myself, I was rigid. I think there's a, there's just a comfort with doing something, there's something to be said for repetitions. So I think, I've, I've been more comfortable and I think that makes the, the whole Q&A, the podcast with fellows, I think it makes it a more comfortable experience, I think. And that's just, that's just the nature of trying something new. Again, I think I've tried to shift it to talk about the person more, and less about kind of ticking off the research, so I think that's been a minor change. But yeah, I mean the format hasn't changed all that much. It's, it's, those are those would probably be the two main things.

Ami Zota

And, you know, as I said we, you know, we are now on somewhere around, you know episode 15 or 17. Any memorable moments from, from, from the first season?

Brian Bienkowski

Yeah for sure, there's a couple that standout. And this will probably be a very self-centered, view of the moments of, why they stood out to me. But the first one that comes to mind is, Ore Badaki talking about, you know, I asked her about—she does African dance, and asking her about the role of dance in her life, really. Which again is getting at the person and not just the research, but she, you know she has just has a really beautiful way of speaking to begin with. But she talked about how she will just stop her work and get up to dance and move around, and I can so relate because I literally take breaks, and turn off slack and go play music. And it's just this way of kind of, you know tickling that other side of your brain, and feeling creative. And so that was a moment that really stood out. And you know she mentioned this quote, and I should have written the quote down, it was from, I think it was from an Indigenous elder or maybe as a proverb, but something to the effect of "you are more than your mind, you know, you are your body," or something like that. And especially having been a graduate student and knowing that a lot of these folks are either PhDs or postdoctoral students, that's a hard thing to remember sometimes. Because we are so judged on our output and our work, and how much, how fast we can spit out ideas. And we are also our body, and it's important to take care of that. So I really like that. Another moment was Abrania describing her passion for food and nutrition. And she gave these really vivid descriptions of sitting at the dinner table with her mother and her grandmother in Puerto Rico. And it reminded me of, of, of my mother and grandmother, of sitting with them. And I am from a far place from Puerto Rico, you know, this was Detroit. So just that, just having that kind of shared connection in the way she talked about, you know again, that's the reason she studies food now. It's this very personal, these family moments growing up, and to me that's just, that's just excellent to hear that that's very cool. I got a couple more. Talking to Ans you mentioned Ans. So he had, he talked about working in, and I should have looked this up too, but again I think it was a Pakistani medical facility for trans women, I believe. And he said, how much it meant to them when he gave them a hug. I could probably cry now, I know I teared up at the time. Bit just thinking about, you know someone working in a place like that where maybe there's a lot of, you know, transphobia, or homophobia, and having someone like Ans who again I've never met in person, but I've spent a lot of time on Zoom with. He is just a, he's such a caring, caring person. And I don't know and to think about him bringing that to a medical facility and these people finally having someone to care for them was really touching. And then there's an upcoming moment that I won't spoil with Mỹ Dzung Chu where we talk about some of the reasons she got into research, which I think is the most touching moment I've had so far on the podcast, so you'll have to stay tuned for that.

Ami Zota

Oh wow, that's like quite a cliffhanger.

Brian Bienkowski

Yeah, a little advertising there.

Ami Zota

Um, so those are, those are really beautiful moments and, you know, it just really shows that this is so much more than a job for you, right. Just like your level of commitment to this program, and the ways that you have connected with these fellows in really helping to, to, you know, kind of, to cultivate and bring out that authentic voice is, is, you know, is really so much of why this program has been a success. And I just wanted to share that I think one thing that I've seen—obviously I'm an avid listener to the podcast and, you know, really kind of really enjoy each episode, but I think, I just see the way you're you kind of try to prioritize making connections with the fellows. Even though you're from, you know you're a White male and you're from a very different social experience, like kind of pulling up those commonalities and, and kind of just, just the way that you connect to them human to human, you know, comes through in that podcast and kind of, I think, makes it transition, you know, more like it's, so it feels less of an interview and more of a, of an actual conversation. Which is what I think people really, really enjoy. And, and, you know, it's also fun to see that when they kind of get slightly caught off guard by, by some of the questions as well. So, um, so any things that you want to do differently in season two of the podcast?

Brian Bienkowski

Yeah, I'd like to stumble on my words less. That's one thing. I'd like to reach more people, I think, from kind of a content perspective we've had a couple episodes where we've talked to Dr. Tucker Seeley, Dr. Reginald Tucker Seeley. Dr Veena Singla who came and spoke to the fellows, and these are folks who are at the NRDC and, where's Dr. Seeley at, at USC? Yeah, at USC. So, so they're not fellows, but, you know, very similar kind of focus in the research and their work, and I think bringing in more of the voices like that would be very cool, because they're out there. There's a lot of people doing this work that, that didn't go through the program or didn't have a program like those who are really kind of trailblazers, so I'd love to talk to more folks like that. And again, yeah I'd like to reach more people. I think these fellows and their ideas and their words are something that needs to be out there. So the, you know, I think the number one goal is to get this into more people's ears.

Ami Zota

And I also thought what another fun format was when we had Dr Shanna Swan, and one of our fellows Annie Hoang. You know that, that roundtable format was, I thought, really interesting and seemed to be really well received, you know, out there in the Twitterverse and in the, you know. Both within the AOC community but also the scientific community. So I think there's a lot of other ways we can, you know, experiment with who we bring on and what form what format.

Brian Bienkowski

Yeah, totally. And as you know, you know, Dr Swan is uh, she's been at it for a while. And having kind of a veteran voice, and then you know, a very exciting young researcher, and then, and then, you know, you moderating. It was, it was great. Yeah, I think that idea of, of bringing on a fellow and maybe someone outside of the fellowship, you know, or outside of the program is very cool. It's very cool to get all those ideas rolling around in a podcast, so I totally agree.

Ami Zota

Um, what was I going to say, yes. Okay, so on to our second to last, our second to last topic. I want to kind of turn to science communication and social media, more broadly. So one thing we try to do is, you know, I kind of increasingly, I think one goal of this program is, is to kind of provide training and insights to kind of early career researchers, more generally. Not just those that are fellows in our program because, you know, we can only train so many people and it was a competitive process. And so I wanted to ask you, what tips do you have for junior science communicators, or early career folks on how to prepare for being a guest on a podcast. Can you shar maybe top five, or top seven tips or something like that.

Brian Bienkowski

Sure, well you know I love preparation, which is, which is for the listeners a joke. I am not a good preparer. But, uh, I think the number one tip is to prepare, to think through your answers in advance. You know, if you can, if you can talk to a host about, they may not want to give you the actual questions, but they will they certainly should give you topics. And just go into it with your mind wrapped around a little bit o f what you'd like to talk about, I think that's a really important one. Be yourself. I think people want to sound like Ira Glass, or want to, you know, sometimes just want to maybe hide parts of themselves. I think the best podcasts are the ones where people are loose, and kind of talking freely about themselves and their ideas. And that's easier said than done, but I think that's really, that's really helpful. Let's see, listen, listen to the podcast you're going on, there usually, ours has a very, you know, particular format, where even, even kind of the trajectory of the questions is often, is often very similar. So if you can listen to the podcasts you're going on beforehand you can get a feel for the host and the rhythm and the types of questions they ask. So I think that's really helpful. Promote yourself. I mean, this is an opportunity as a scientist you don't get a lot, which is to make it about you and your work and why it's important, and your lab and all the hard work that got you here. So I wouldn't shy away from that, and use it as, use as a platform to really to promote what you're working on and why it's important. Let's see, I'll give you one more, um. You know, I would—this is kind of just a conversational thing. But I would, you know, be mindful of, of pauses and don't jump in in the middle of a question. Things like that I think are very helpful. And, and be conversational. So in kind of taking visual cues if you're on video or something, you know, try to try to make it not sound like a Q&A, or some kind of job interview format. You know, the more you can make it sound like a conversation where you're laughing and reacting. I think that, you know, people connect with that a little bit better.

Ami Zota

Great tips. Thank you, thank you so much. Separately at some point I'll have to get your top 10 hits on how to be a good podcast host because you make it seem so easy, and I truly find it to be a bit nerve wracking. But we're, I'm getting better, getting better. Um, so I will ask you the last question that is kind of your favorite question to end with, and that is, what are you reading right now, for fun. And, yeah, and if you could talk about the books that you're reading right now.

Brian Bienkowski

Yeah, so I just got done with a book called "Major Taylor," which is. So I, unlike most of the fellows who say they have no time for fun reading—all I do is read for fun. I don't read anything about endocrine disruption in my spare time. I don't even really read about the environment. I read about bicycling and, and fly fishing usually. So Major Taylor was a Black bicycle racer in the early 1900s, and was probably the first Black sports superstar. And I heard about Major Taylor because last year during the protests, I listened to a lot of cycling podcasts. And they kept having people on that were part of these Major Taylor bicycling clubs where you ride together, and I was like, "Who the hell is this? Why is everybody using the same name?" You know, New York City has a Major Taylor club and Houston, and Atlanta. And so I backtracked and found this, found this excellent book on Major Taylor who is just, he was an international superstar at a time when being a Black man in America was perilous to say the least. And his story was really inspiring. And right now, I actually just started reading an older book, it's called "The Trip to Echo Spring," and it is about alcoholic writers. It's about how alcoholism has plagued a lot of America's best writers. I think it's focused on, mostly men, it's a woman Olivia Laing, who wrote it, and it's been out a few years but I've been wanting to read it. I'm a big Hemingway fan, coming from Michigan and being a big fan of short sentences, I love Hemingway, and he's featured in it. So I just started that and it's a, it's about as upbeat as you would imagine it with me.

Ami Zota

Yes. Well those are fascinating topics, and I think at some point what I want to do is make a list of all the books people have mentioned. And, you know because we've just, it's been such a diverse list and, and, you know, so many great suggestions and so many things to learn about. So thanks for sharing that and enjoy reading those this summer. So, I think, is there anything else you want to say, Brian.

Brian Bienkowski

No, that is all I want to say, I really appreciate you having me. It's nice to have the microphone turned on me and looking forward to the next season to podcast.

Ami Zota

I am too. Thanks for, thanks for doing this, and being willing to put yourself in the hot seat, and for everything that you do to kind of, for the Agents of Change in Environmental Justice community, we appreciate it.

Brian Bienkowski

And right back to you. You have a great day.

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CITES, CCAMLR, LDC, MBTA, CBD, Ramsar, LWCF ... they may make your eyes glaze over, but they protect our health and planet.

Alabama PFAS manufacturing plant creates the climate pollution of 125,000 cars

The manufacturing plant responsible for PFAS-coated fast food packaging pumps out loads of a banned ozone-depleting compound along with "forever chemicals."

LISTEN: EHN's Pittsburgh reporter featured on "We Can Be" podcast

"I believe that true, well-told stories have the power to change the world for good."

Ocean plastic pollution

Too much plastic is ending up in the ocean — and making its way back onto our dinner plates.

Weaponization of water in South Asia

Climate change and unbalanced regional political power are driving an ongoing water crisis in Bangladesh.

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