Talking to Interesting People

I just had an article published in Terrain.org: Journal of the Built + Natural Environments. It’s a Q&A with Margo Farnsworth, a fellow nature writer and biomimicry expert based in Missouri.

In our interview, we talk about biomimicry itself, as well as finding and making home (even when it is lost), connecting to local communities, and the growth of the virtual community.

There are two quotes from the interview that I particularly enjoyed. One was about Farnsworth’s personal community:

I’d say my community clusters around the kind and the curious.

The other centred on how we can make people more aware of environmental issues and the people working on them, by reaching out through accessible media like romance novels:

Although formulaic, romance novels provide the opportunity to cast marine biologists, botanists, and other scientists as heroines or heroes. Through their actions, we can share what these people actually do, thus promoting different scientific careers. Additionally, every book requires an underlying problem and struggle. We have more than enough environmental problems to put in these books, which could increase the environmental awareness of thousands of readers. Of course every romance novel’s recipe includes a large helping of sex, which draws in the crowds. Thing is, we need those crowds—and their environmental awareness—to at least change their everyday behaviors, and potentially to help solve environmental crises on our planet.

I was so glad to have the opportunity to chat with Margo and have that discussion actually published.

I find that I’m naturally drawn to Q&A’s, as I’m curious about people: who they are, how they came to be that person, what their everyday life is like, and how they connect with those around them – whether that’s people in the same place, same discipline, or something else – and how they connect with place.

As an introvert, it’s much easier for me to get people talking about themselves than to have to open up and talk about myself. I find if I spend a bit of time familiarizing myself with an interview subject – their career history, basic interests, extracurricular activities, and family and friends – it makes the interview go that much better. It gives me a 3D image of the person to start with, not just the 2D rendering of a brief biography or a photo taken in passing.

I realize that I’ve spent a lot of time doing interviews. For example, I did a series of interviews on this blog with environment writers, which is what my interview with Farnsworth grew out of. Those previous interviewees included:

As part of my writing for Canadian Science Publishing, I’ve interviewed many women scientists in order to share their career stories publicly. These include:

I hope to keep up with interviewing in future – if you have tips of people to interview or venues that publish Q&A’s, I’m all ears!

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