Matt Soltys interviewed by Kelly Reinhardt

Matt Soltys ran a radio show for a number of years called Healing the Earth Radio, which made connections between capitalism, settler colonialism, the prison industrial complex, patriarchy, and other political struggles that are often left out of ecological politics or environmentalism.  The interviews are archived on his website, and they are really great.  He recently published a book called Tangled Roots, which includes some of the most significant interviews he did over the course of his radio show.  I highly recommend this book; these interviews are really amazing and it’s rare to see such a wide diversity of voices and topics discussed, with lots of connections and resonances between them.  I think this is one of the most important resources for anyone thinking about ecology and environmentalism in North America.

In an interview with Kelly Reinhardt, Matt Soltys discusses how he became involved in struggles around ecology, indigenous solidarity, and decolonization, among other things.  He talks about how he draws strength and inspiration from nature and spends time listening to the land and conversing with other species, and he explains his efforts to unlearn Western, scientific ways of thinking and perceiving the world.  The interview is from 2008, but it’s still relevant today.  Check it out, and buy his book.

Below is the transcription:

(0:00 – 0:56) intro

(0:57 – 1:08) … You do good work with community radio… tell me a bit about that.

(1:09 – 1:49) … trying to make connections between ecological and political issues like power and colonialism… touching on issues of healing

(1:50 –  1:52) How did you come to that way of thinking?

(1:53 – 2:36) … not letting school beat it out of me… too many environmentalists not wanting to make connections between militaristic uses of the earth, weather warfare and genocide, stolen land… we’re not gonna be doing anything effective if we’re just talking about environmental issues or just talking about political issues

(2:37 – 2:46) … when you first started becoming concerned about things around you, what kind of effect did that have on you and your relationships…?

(2:47 – 3:30)  it’s a really good feeling to be connected to struggles that go back thousands of years and know that there is a long history of people being proud of resisting and standing up for something that really means something.

(3:31 – 3:37) … How are you able to maintain such a positive outlook…?

(3:38 – 5:57) … it’s overwhelming sometimes… the grief builds up… what’s kept me strongest and sane has been a strong connection with nature.

(5:58 – 6:41) you’ve identified a couple of key things… meaningful work and a connection to nature are very positive forces in ones life. What kind of advice would you give for people who just can’t access the positive work or a positive environment?

(6:42 – 7:45) … something as simple as feeling the pulse of our heart and breathing deep, knowing that each single breath connects us to each tree transpiring oxygen for us to breath

(7:46 – 8:12) … you came to these insights, whether it’s practical, intuitive, training… seems you are quite comfortable with your positions… feeling with the heart rather than thinking with (the brain)

(8:13 – 9:04) … most of my insights have come from spending a lot of time by myself outside…

(9:05 – 9:12) Where’s your secong favorite natural spot?

(9:13 – 9:23) … anywhere along a riverbank…

(9:24 – 9:32) when you’re communing with nature do you feel it’s reciprocal?

(9:33 – 10:53) certainly! … a river is happy to have someone sit by them or a tree would love to be touched just like a human loves to be touched.

(10:54 – 10:58) …tell us where people can plug in to some of your media work?

(10:59 – 11:22) … and it is fertile, it certainly isn’t futile.


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