Grist - Sharing Climate Change Stories
Sep 21, 2020
As we prepare to open our new financial hub at the Bullitt Center in Seattle, we’re featuring a few of our Seattle clients and future neighbor tenants in the world’s greenest commercial building.
Grist is one of the most well-known environmental and social justice media organizations in the US and has been publishing content about climate change solutions since 1999. The Seattle-based nonprofit will become our neighbor at the Bullitt Center in 2021. Grist and the Bullitt Center have been clients of Beneficial State since 2016, and we are proud to be their bank.
In 2020 on the West Coast, all the warnings from climate scientists seem to have been slowly building up to this fire season. As the planet experiences more frequent and more dangerous climate events, Grist is there to evaluate and report on viable solutions and keep its readers up-to-date on the severity of the impact. Recently, Grist published informative pieces like “How apocalyptic this fire season is--in 1 flaming chart” and “Oregon’s air quality is so far beyond ‘hazardous’ that no one knows what it means for health” to underscore the urgency of climate change. They balance this reporting with more hopeful stories pointing to the potential for American attitudes toward climate change to change and how we can recover from the fires.
Over the more than 20 years Grist has been in operation, the organization has created some fantastic projects, like Fix, a team that focuses on finding stories about exciting new solutions for climate change. Their Fixer network is full of innovators sharing ideas to help each other make positive change. The team publishes “The Grist 50,” an annual list of emerging leaders on climate change action. The Fix team’s mantra is “Less freaking out, more figuring out,” which counters the typically dark narrative around climate change in the broader media.
Bekah Cardwell, Grist’s Director of Finance and Administration, told us about choosing to lean into solutions-based journalism instead of focusing on educating readers about climate change. “We still report on climate change and try to educate folks. But it’s less about, ‘Hey, pay attention!’ It’s ‘Let’s find, create, highlight, elevate solutions.’”
This year, Grist acquired Pacific Standard Magazine, which covered social and environmental justice and closed suddenly in August 2019. Grist will be preserving its archive to retain access to 20,000 stories about those most impacted by environmental forces. Grist also has the country’s first Environmental Justice desk. The dual focus on both the ecological and social implications of climate justice is critical; environmental organizations have been historically criticized for underappreciating the vicious cycle between social inequality and climate change.
Cardwell is excited about Grist’s future, including moving to the Bullitt Center. She told us that the Bullitt Center represents “the kind of innovative solution we’d want to seek out.” Their partnership has been years in the making, and the symbolism of being invited to move into the iconic building is meaningful to the whole team. Grist hopes to serve as an example not just within Seattle, but also on a larger scale, of a leader in the green space. While they had initially planned to move into the Bullitt Center earlier this year, as with many things in 2020, COVID has impacted Grist’s move date. It looks like they won’t be able to make the building their new home until early 2021.
Beyond the immediate future, Grist actively supports today’s youth in innovating solutions to the climate crisis. Grist has an annual Fellowship program, in which the team mentors the next generation of environmental journalists. Cardwell’s opinion is that the big climate events of today are actually helping prompt more solutions. “For us to stay the way we are and not create the change that’s needed, that’s not even feasible...I think people--especially the younger generation--is very committed to making the world that they are going to inherit a better one than my generation and the generation above me is willing to leave.”
Grist has been on board with Beneficial State Bank’s sustainable mission since they switched banks in 2016. “We have really great [bank] reps that we work with. They’re very responsive and really care about what’s going on at Grist, and how we’re doing - not just as an organization but as individuals,” says Cardwell. “I’ve made friends with our [bankers]. If I have a question and it’s not easily answered, they’ll do research and get back to me. They’re just all-around supportive and help me to resolve issues that may come up.”