Claire Thompson

Associate Editor • Grist
Last edited August 10, 2022

I have two passions when it comes to my journalism work: a love of crafting stories, and a commitment to advancing equitable climate solutions and a narrative of possibility. Neither one of them means a thing if my work doesn’t reach people.

2022 MJ Bear Fellowship Project

In October of 2021, I launched the Looking Forward newsletter for Fix, Grist’s climate solutions lab. I pitched and refined the newsletter’s concept, worked with our designer on the layout, and coordinated the launch across teams. Since then, I’ve been writing it on a bi-weekly basis (with guidance from my amazing editor, Jess Stahl), leading regular topic brainstorms with the full Fix team, and occasionally editing contributions from other writers. The idea behind Looking Forward is to show readers that a clean, green, just future is still possible, and introduce them to the people and ideas laying the foundation for it today.
More than just an email product, I wanted Looking Forward to be an avenue for us to engage directly with our readers and build community and connection around climate solutions. In addition to providing original reporting on a surprising solution, each newsletter asks a question or shares a way for readers to engage with us and the material we cover. Most newsletters also begin with a 100-word piece of climate fiction (a drabble) imagining the future of the solution we’re covering, and readers are encouraged to write and submit their own drabbles.
The response has been awesome. Since the launch in October, our subscriber list has more than doubled — from 2,000 to about 4,300 — and we regularly receive replies, feedback, and drabbles from our audience. In April–May of this year, we ran an audience survey (which got around 80 responses) and used the feedback as an opportunity to re-introduce our mission to readers and reaffirm our commitment to making the newsletter a community-driven space. We also asked people to share what was giving them hope, and what questions they’d like to see us tackle in future newsletters. The dozen-or-so responses we received inspired future newsletters where we’ve directly addressed readers’ questions, and we intend to do more. A trend of sharing book titles also prompted us to compile a reader-recommended climate book list, with quotes from the people who shared what the books had meant to them.
The next horizon for Looking Forward is bringing our reader community together in real time, and giving them opportunities to meet and connect with one another, as well as our team. Later this summer, we’re starting a Looking Forward book club, an idea that grew organically out of the book list and the interest people expressed in exchanging more ideas about them. We’re excited to take Looking Forward “off the page” in this sense, and keen to experiment with more ways of building community with and among our audience, sharing inspiration, and generating energy for climate and justice solutions.