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An Ecological Joy List for 2020

By Liz Clift

Joy List: The Concept

A friend of mine recently invited a small group of us to co-create a “Joy List.” The focus of the joy list was to think about the things we’ve read, watched, or listened to in 2020 that’s brought us joy—and I thought it was a good enough idea that I wanted to share some of my contributions from the Joy List that have a nexus with ecology—as well as some things I didn’t include on that list because, well, not all of us get to be nerds about ecology.

Sharing items from my contributions to the Joy List, as well as some bonus items that didn’t make my friend’s list, which have a nexus with ecology seems especially important in a year filled with stories of ecological disaster in the United States (and abroad) ranging from devastating wildfires in Australia and US (among other places), melting glaciers all over the place, birds dropping out of the sky, and more. So, here are some things you can read, watch, and listen to that might bring you a bit of joy (or possibly even hope). And admittedly—not every single one of these is inherently joyful, but they all inspired some level of optimism in me.

Note: these are things I read, watched, or listened to in late 2019 or in 2020 (some of the early months of the year have run together!)—not necessarily things that were produced or published this year!

Read:

Books:

Articles:

  • While "British Columbia's Looming Extinction Crisis in The Narwhal by Sarah Cox isn’t an uplifting read, by any stretch of the imagination, it’s one of the articles I keep thinking about and that, I imagine, could have the power to shift policy if enough of us began really advocating for the types of needed change highlighted by this article.
  • "Farming Insects to Save Lemurs" in bioGraphic by Andy Isaacson

Watch:

Listen:

  • Ologies podcast by Alie Ward – while I find most of these episodes deeply enjoyable a few I might recommend if you’re just starting off with this podcast include: “Cervidology (DEER) with Rhiannons Kirton & Jakopak,” Aperiology (MACROPHOTOGRAPHY) with Joseph Saunders,” and “Bryology (MOSS) with Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer.”
  • Good Fire podcast which explores cultural burns and the role of fire in (forest) ecology. While this limited series ended last year, I didn’t listen to it until this year.
  • How to Save a Planet podcast is the podcast for those of us that are already working to save the planet—as well as those of us who feel overwhelmed by the ecological crises that have already arrived and the ones that could be on the way.
  • “How horseshoe crabs (probably) saved your life” on Sawbones – they refer to horsehoe crabs as “tactical spiders.” Need I say more?
  • Propaganda by the Seed podcast which focuses more on permaculture and gardening rather than a strict nexus with ecology—and the ways we make use of land has a direct impact on our local ecological systems, which the podcast hosts (and their guests) frequently acknowledge.

I would love to know the things you’d include on your Joy List (related to ecology or not)! Leave us a comment on one of our social media platforms with the things you’ve read, watched, or listened to in ~2020 that have brought you joy (or optimism or hope).