2018 Year in Review
As we look back on 2018, the Edge Effects editorial board has much to celebrate. We’ve entered our fifth year of publishing. We’ve seen our audience continue to grow (thank you!), and we’ve had the fantastic fortune to feature work by artists, activists, and scholars who explore the complex entanglements of social and environmental concerns with nuance and grace. Amid a year of intensifying climate crises, dwindling environmental protections, and suffering in so many human and more-than-human communities, contributors have shown us new possibilities for living better with one another now and building different futures.
When the editorial board first decided to put together a recommendation list for our annual year-in-review, we tasked each editor with selecting just one of the many thought-provoking pieces that authors have so generously shared with us this year. As it turns out, this isn’t an easy thing to do.
I would love for this list to be an unruly document, in which editors cite every Edge Effects article, podcast interview, and artwork that has moved us, taught us, challenged us, and given us strength over a year when feelings of helplessness did their best to undo hope. But with over 78 pieces to choose from, that would be a little too unwieldy.
So with hearts full of gratitude to all of our contributors and readers, and with the very best wishes for the year ahead, members of the editorial board want to share with you a truncated list of some notable —and perhaps overlooked—pieces we’ve published in 2018.
–Addie Hopes, Managing Editor
“The Violent Environments of the Mexico-U.S. Border” by J. Leigh Garcia
We published J. Leigh Garcia’s artwork about the US/Mexico borderlands in February. It was during the ongoing border wall dispute, but before the (continuing) separation of familiesat the border and the unlawful rejection of asylum claims. 2018 has been a year of extreme anti-immigrant rhetoric and trumped-up military presence at the southern border. J. Leigh Garcia’s artwork is a reminder of how violent border environments are but also speaks for the humanity of Latinx immigrants.
“Gardening in Outer Space: A Conversation with Simon Gilroy” by Lisa Ruth Rand
There have been so many stellar Edge Effects podcast episodes this year, but only one was out of this world (literally): Gardening in Outer Space. Space junk expert Lisa Ruth Rand interviewed astrobotanist Simon Gilroy in July 2018 about his career researching how plants grow in space. Their conversation digs into the nitty-gritty of coaxing seeds to flower on the International Space Station, the politics of space travel, and fantasies about space exploration in the centuries to come. What happens in space matters for the earthbound, too, as astrobotany helps researchers understand how plants might cope with extreme environments caused by climate change.
“Indigenous Art as Creative Resistance: A Conversation with Dylan Miner” by Alexandra Lakind
2018 has seen headlines about extractive industries and indigenous sovereignty all around the country and the world. Alexandra Lakind’s conversation with Métis artist, activist, and scholar Dylan Miner reminds us of the way these issues continue to shape the Upper Midwest the region that Edge Effects calls home. In this podcast, Miner discusses the ways that artistic practice and social activism come together in his work. He also explains recent prints he has produced in response to the Enbridge Line 5 pipeline and the Back Forty Project, a proposed open-pit mine in the Menominee River watershed. His work reminds us of the opportunities for “creative resistance” all around us—but especially in our own communities and backyards.
“Starlicide” by Amie Whittemore
Amie Whittemore’s poem, Starlicide, evokes so many feelings about the troubled, tangled histories of capitalism, environmentalism, resource management, and agriculture. Starlings, “who are aggressive, super-smart, and clever” star in her poem alongside starlicide, an avicide meant to kill starlings, but Whittemore and the starlings know “that poison / always ends up in the king’s chalice.” Check out this beautiful piece of poetry, learn a bit about birds, and marvel at the risky lengths we’ll go to in order to pretend that we have control over our world.
“Nine Women Who Are Rewriting the Environment” by Addie Hopes
It’s been my good fortune to have worked on the board this year alongside several scholars of environmental literature. From them I’ve learned about lots of fiction writers producing beautiful and urgent work that explores the entanglements between the human and non-human worlds. Lucky for you, Managing Editor Addie Hopes published a list of “Nine Women Who Are Rewriting the Environment.” It’s a great place to begin exploring this writing, and to get ideas for your holiday shopping list, as well. I’ve already bought my partner the short story collection Florida by Lauren Groff, one of the many great guests on our podcast this year. (Shh, don’t tell.)
“Queer Camping, Then and Now” by Juniper Lewis
I’ve had Nicole Seymour’s brilliant “Citation in the Era of #MeToo” on my mind for months. Her call for environmental studies scholars to think carefully about whose voices they amplify, what issues they tackle, and why, has been my constant companion. But because so many of our readers have already read this fantastic piece (if you haven’t, I highly recommend it!), I also want to mention one essay that you may have missed during your summer adventures. I love Juniper Lewis’s “Queer Camping, Then and Now” because it centers celebration, taking readers into the woods to party, to heal, and to find solace. For Juniper, “Nature” is not a purifying force or a harmonious retreat from civilization. Instead, they explore camping as one of the many ways queer folx build communities of refuge while claiming “natural” spaces once reserved for (white) hetero-masculinity. Juniper’s essay plants a seedling of hope. It whispers that worlds can be built otherwise. It reminds me to take care of that fragile little seedling—and to center care for the fragile lives, human and more-than-human, all around.
“Feeling Kinky about Environmentalism: A Conversation with Nicole Seymour” by Amy Groshek
Two major climate reports were released this year: the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s report on the impacts of a 1.5°C increase in global temperatures and the National Climate Assessment. Both were grim. Combined with news of the deadliest wildfire in my home state’s history, 2018 had me feeling pretty climate fatigued.
But then I listened to a conversation Edge Effects hosted between Amy Groshek and Nicole Seymour about the “bad affects” of environmentalism. This podcast made me realize there’s room for laughter as well as grief in these troubling times. It not only cured my end-of-the-year enervation, but also introduced me to Isabella Rossellini’s wildly funny Green Porno.
“Water Justice vs. Western Development in Nepal” by Pearly Wong
“If we were actually reacting to climate change in appropriate ways we’d all be running around with our heads on fire. Right?” Lauren Groff’s question is not rhetorical. This year, wildfires tore through California after record-breaking temperatures, and glaciers in Greenland are melting at record-breaking speeds. But what is to be done if we lack the capacity to even realize that our heads are already on fire? In her piece, Pearly Wong gives us an answer. From the field in Nepal, where climate change exacerbates an ongoing problem of water injustice, she concludes that the problem is Western Development. Only by placing environmental justice before profits and conspicuous consumption can we put out the fire all around us.
–W. Nathan Green
Many thanks to all Edge Effects readers and contributors. We look forward to taking on 2019 with you!
Featured image: A shaggy dog takes a moment to look back before crossing over into what comes next.
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