A\J, or Alternatives Journal, is Canada’s national environmental magazine, independently publishing intelligent & informed environmental journalism since 1971. A\J is published by Alternatives Media Inc, a registered Canadian charity.
At Alternatives Journal, we teach young Canadians the workings of environmental journalism, publishing, and environmental communications. We are the only environmental magazine (print and digital) in Canada providing education on environmental journalism through volunteer programs, internships, and co-op placements. A\J does not just create an environmental magazine, we teach youth across Canada how to be effective storytellers and communicators on behalf of the environment.
Environmental communication plays a powerful role in shaping our collective narratives surrounding climate change and social justice issues. As an organization with deep roots in academia and environmental sciences, we understand the need for effective communication and its capacity to be the glue that connects research, civic engagement, and positive policy creation. In teaching Canadian youth about the ins and outs of environmental journalism, we will be helping foster more effective environmental communicators and increasing awareness on environmental and social justice issues.
Independent voices are being silenced across the country. Canadians want to speak on behalf of the environment but may not have an accessible platform to do so, or do not know where to start. We help Canadians realize that they have the power to make real environmental change through storytelling and provide a forum for all stakeholders to be heard and share stories. By supporting A\J, you are helping to inform, catalyze and lift the individuals who can make a difference.
As we have transitioned to remote learning and remote work environments, fostering the sense of community within the environmental sphere has changed.
In the summer of 2020, four students from the Centre for Environment and Sustainability (CES) at Western University undertook the issue, “Getting There: The Ecosystem of Human Movement” as part of their co-op placements. These co-op students were part of a pioneering team who, for the first time in our almost 50-year history, remotely developed and delivered an Alternatives Journal issue (#191). During this time, the students learned the ins and outs of environmental journalism. They were primarily responsible for writing and editing content for A\Js online and print platforms. Our team excelled in the rigorous, everyday work of researching, interviewing, fact-checking, copy-editing, and proof-reading the various contributions from leading laboratories, research institutes, etc., and the editorial team.
In the fall of 2020, A\J partnered with CES for a second time to create an issue on environmental education called “Operation Environment” (#192). With the help of the CES students, we were able to bring this issue to life. As a team, we learned about what it means to be an environmental educator, and the importance of being a lifelong learner.
To the team at A\J, we appreciate that ‘environmental literacy’, our founding mission, will not be truly optimized until such time as the message and lessons move from the ivy towers of academia and gleaming towers of the C-suite set to the Main Streets of towns and villages of our country. We would like to build on this momentum and provide more opportunities like those stated above. We want to extend this opportunity to youth from all walks of life – and not just those within a university-based program. Learning experiences should be available to all regardless or physical location or socioeconomic status.
This May, we would like to offer these opportunities for environmental journalists based out of our new office in Exeter, Ontario (remote until post-pandemic). Exeter sits perched amidst some of Ontario’s most beautiful and arable agricultural lands, while also supporting tourism and light industry. It is home to a diverse population of young families and older empty nesters. In a nutshell, the ideal microcosm to execute our plan to help refine our latent abilities to communicate the challenges and opportunities of our times more effectively and reach more people.
To be agents of positive environmental change, we believe one must be able to effectively communicate science-based topics to individuals with diverse backgrounds. Politicians, corporate leaders, or the average citizen, may not possess a scientific background and be able to comprehend the effects and hazards of climate change. For powerful civic engagement on these issues to take place, citizens must be made aware of (and educated) on the environmental and social injustices within their communities.
Our editorial line up for 2021 includes:
46.1/April 2021: GRASSROOTS AND NGO’S – All about environmental NGO’s and their overarching contributions to progress.
46.2/June 2021: SPECIES (THE FUTURE OF US) – examining species at risk in a new climate age, starting with our own.
46.3/September 2021: 2071 – A backwards look from the future at how we managed to avoid dystopian outcomes.
Our April team will be responsible for educating the public through story telling on the issues stated above.
Providing opportunities for young Canadians to speak on behalf of the environment, we inspire hope for a new generation of ecologically aware individuals who are ready to fight for a better future. We share the outcome of the learning experience (an environmental magazine) with subscribers, donors, and the greater environmental community to further inform the environmental movement.
Outcomes are as follows:
The education of six (6) young Canadians in environmental Journalism over a six-month period (a six-month internship) in…
- Writing print and digital copy
- How to construct and conduct effective interviews
- Copy editing, structural editing, fact checking and proofing
- Experience with style guides and spellers
- Social media marketing, advertising, and outreach campaigns
- Applying for grants and building business partnerships
Following their intern experience with A\J, interns will complete a post-volunteer/intern exit interview to review their experience.