What are your backgrounds? What first drew you towards Green politics?
Julia: Seden is not exactly the most typical Green, in that she works for NATO. She is Turkish, from a small town near the Syrian border and has long been active in LGBTQ+ and women’s rights. We’ve been friends for quite a while and I think we challenge and complement each other. She has a sharp mind and original holistic perspective on the world, especially around foreign policy issues that political ecology can neglect. I think Seden has a brilliant decolonial and feminist perspective that can enrich Green debates.
Seden: Julia is your typical Green who can – at any given moment – start banging on about how we all should be connected to nature. She is also a massive dork who is probably one of the few people I know who is as obsessed with politics and feminism as I am, which is one of the reasons why we came together for this project. More importantly, her being a Franco-British anthropologist brings a multi-cultural and multi-faceted outlook to her editorial work, and to the holistic way she sees gender, environmentalism and indigenous rights – which is quite inspiring and much needed in political journalism and political ecology.
What led you to set up the Big Green Politics Podcast, and what is your aim?
J: I went through a phase of being obsessed with podcasts (and when I say ‘phase’, I mean a three year ‘phase’ that is very much ongoing) and was frustrated at the lack of Green politics, politicians, ideas, news. After scoffing at Seden’s suggestion to start a podcast about Green politics, we decided to embody the feminist principle of stepping up even when doubting our own capabilities. We started out in mid-2018 with little technical experience (which is evidenced clearly in the first couple of interviews I did), but it’s striking how quickly our skills have developed. It’s been amazing to get support from Greens and progressives around the world. Special shout out to Natalie Bennett for doing our first interview when we were just starting out.
S: Our aim is mainly to create a platform for hearing about Green ideas and news in a digestible way that also goes a bit deeper into the big ideas. As well as news and analysis, we want to share best practice and talk about strategy and what works and what doesn’t on a practical level. We also wanted to create a space for dialogue and to make the ideas and philosophy behind political ecology accessible. So, instead of waiting for the mainstream media outlets to catch up with the times and start covering Green politics, we have gone ahead and started the Big Green Politics Podcast.
Do you have a particular favourite episode or interview?
S: I would say Julia’s interview with Steve Hynd is my favourite so far, because Steve not only talked about the significant role of the Greens in Britain's current political landscape in a very relatable way, but also laid out the philosophy behind the Green movement in a comprehensible way.
J: I most enjoy working on our news episodes, but I just loved Seden’s interview with Miłka Stępień. As well as being personal, it’s also informative and explores central issues such as working with civil society, the ‘just transition’, and the ‘mythologising of coal’.
Is there anyone you would really like to talk to on the podcast?
J: We’re changing our format a bit in 2019 to focus more on discussions and analysis of news rather than interviews, but there are so many influential and courageous people we’d love to talk to. I’d particularly like to start talking to Greens from further afield than our own mostly European circles, who get little coverage but are doing crucial work in difficult circumstances.
S: Even though there are a few mainstream Green names out there whom I passionately fangirl and would like to interview someday, our goal is to also interview local frontline activists and campaigners who make a political and social impact on the ground but hardly get a platform and audience.
How important is social media to the podcast and the Green movement more widely?
S: We want to be more interactive – this podcast is a work in progress, so we really value feedback and suggestions. Get in touch with us! We also want to stay internationally-minded, because sometimes we can get lost in our little national world and forget that this fight is global. It’s important we feed this spirit of internationalism within the Greens and progressives where we know about and support each other across borders.
J: I agree that internationalism that is key to the Green movement – and it’s also exactly what is needed today to challenge with the worrying emergence of closed-nation, inward looking global politics. From couchsurfing groups to friendships across borders to learning from each other’s success, making those international connections will be key to the success of the Green movement.
Do you feel Green voices and opinions are put across often enough in the media?
J: If we hear the ‘environmental angle’ in mainstream media, it’s either simplified or it treats the environment as an ‘add-on’ concern, rather than providing the political ecology perspective that re-envisions the whole system.
Also, I feel that a side-effect of Green ideas not often entering mainstream discourse is that they may not get challenged and grow from constructive criticism. The conversations where I’ve most grown and matured politically are ones where I’ve been challenged and had to engage critically with my own assumptions and reconsider my opinions. We have to engage with other ideologies and values in order to come together to solutions that would actually work in today’s world.
S: Let’s also keep in mind that even if we hear what some Green politicians have to say on mainstream media, we usually do not get to hear the political analysis of Green thinkers, journalists, and activists. This is why we wanted to create this platform where we can have debates and conversations with these voices.
What difference can independent media make to public debate?
S: We look at things in a hopeful and optimistic way while still remaining realistic. However, even though we have a realistic outlook, what you’re not going to get from us is click-baity, fear-mongering news. We try to make sure that we’re critical and independent thinking, and that we foster debate, rather than just reinforcing our echo chamber.
J: All public debate is shaped by information that comes from various media, so it can have a huge effect – for example, the far-right media outlets that have underpinned the rise of the far-right in the US. We want to create the Green version of #fakenews… No, of course we don’t! We want to do the opposite and create a dialogue whilst shining a light on an underexposed but important facet of politics.
Where would you like to be in 12 months’ time?
J: I want us to get more into the controversies of the Green movement – tensions about population growth, nuclear power, the debate around self-ID, strategy and so on. So we’re trying to sit somewhere in the tension of supporting a strong and inwardly resilient movement that also isn’t insular or exclusive.
What’s great about being independent is being able to cover what we want. We’re keen to expand our focus onto Greens in countries where the struggle is even harder and who get little support or attention. Exploring issues of strategy and framing with experts is also in the pipeline! And we want to bring the audience with us and make this more a shared project, like the Green movement itself.
S: After Julia’s long and highly political answer, I’ll spill it: in 12 months’ time, we want to be a reliable source for people to get their Green news and political analysis. We also hope that we can shape the dialogue amongst Greens and progressives as one of the movement’s established media platforms.
The Big Green Politics Podcast is available on all podcast platforms including Soundcloud, Itunes, Google Play, and Spotify. @biggreenpolpod