One of the main aims of this column, as I wrote in my introductory post back in January, is to provide a stronger platform for Northern voices to be heard down south. So far, those voices have been filtered through me. But for this week, I thought it would be useful to provide a more direct line from readers to Northerners.
Despite our occasional struggles with expensive Internet, limited bandwidth, and—in many more remote communities—connections via finicky satellites, social media is huge in the North. We have our own hashtags, subtweets, public spats, and parody accounts. Digging into Northern Twitter means exploring real-time dispatches strung out all the way from the Aleutian Islands, at the extreme western limit of North America, to far-flung Eastern Arctic hamlets like Arctic Bay, in Nunavut.
Here are some of my go-to accounts for environmental issues, and engagement with the natural environment more broadly, in the North. I asked those users, in turn, to recommend a few more accounts too.
Ronson, @jacsrons, is a staff reporter for the Yukon News and an occasional freelancer for magazines. She writes often about the mining industry; government regulations surrounding mining, oil, and gas; and the many ongoing legal conflicts between First Nations, conservationists, and the Yukon government over the same—and her tweets cover similar terrain.
Ronson’s suggestions for accounts worth following? Yukon Conservation, @yukonconservati, an environmental NGO; @yukonsalmon, the official Twitter account of the Yukon Salmon Sub-Committee; @YRDFA, the Yukon River Drainage Fisheries Association; and the Yukon Research Centre at Yukon College, tweeting at @yukonresearch.
Redfern, @RadicalOmnivore, is based in Iqaluit, Nunavut. As you might guess from his handle, his tweets often involve food—particularly wild food, hunger, and food security in Nunavut, and the often-ugly relationships between southern environmentalists and indigenous hunters and harvesters. Expect a mix of useful links and strongly stated opinions. He suggests that southern readers follow the longtime editor of Iqaluit-based Nunatsiaq News, @jameshenrybell. Bell’s feed is essential for anyone “looking to see further than the Theme Park narrative that engulfs and subsumes much general Arctic reporting,” Redfern says.
O’Malley, @julia_omalley, is an Anchorage-based freelance journalist. (Check out her recent Eater Longform story about a farmer and a homegrown feast in Homer, Alaska.) Follow her for a mix of photos, links, and stand-alone tweets about food, journalism, wildlife, and Alaskan life more generally.
O’Malley recommends following fellow journalists David Hulen, @davidhulen, and Kyle Hopkins, @kylehopkinsAK. Outside of media circles, she suggests Angela Gonzalez, @ayatlin; Michelle Sparck, @msparck; and @AKU_MATU. She also maintains a list of accounts related to the local food movement in Alaska—check it out if locavorism is your thing.
Statnyk, @GwitchinKris, is a lawyer who hails from the Yukon’s most remote community, tiny Old Crow. His feed offers a mixture of politics, poetry, and more, with an emphasis on indigenous law and the ways in which Canada’s aboriginal people and its justice system collide. He recommends that readers follow Madeleine Redfern, @madinuk, a former mayor of Iqaluit and a prolific tweeter about Arctic politics, infrastructure, food security, and more. He also suggests Alaskan-based @princesslucaj, whose tweets often focus on the battle over the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge, or ANWR.
More suggestions: Lauren Rosenthal, @laurenthal, a radio journalist based in the Aleutian Islands; Clare Kines, @NunavutBirder, a photographer based in tiny, remote Arctic Bay, Nunavut, for wildlife and landscape photos from a place you will almost certainly never visit; and Stephanie Schmidt, @salmonstephak, who works in fisheries management and also happens to be a former champion of the Alaska Wilderness Woman Contest.
A public policy journal focused on the three Canadian northern territories, Northern Public Affairs, tweets at @NorthernPA. @MakitaNunavut covers uranium mining in Nunavut and beyond. @EcologyNorth is a Northwest Territories-based NGO focused on climate change and sustainability. And all this is just a starting point. There are hundreds of northerners on Twitter, talking about everything from sustainable fisheries to polar geopolitics to the NBA playoffs. (#WeTheNorth.)
If you’re interested in learning about how the Arctic is changing as we move deeper into the 21st century, there might be no better way—short of buying a plane ticket and flying up here—than diving deep into Northern Twitter to hear what residents have to say firsthand.
Dispatches From a Changing Arctic is a biweekly series of reported stories from Alaska and the three Canadian northern territories.
Lead photo: Cliffs near Arctic Bay. (Photo: Timkal/Wikimedia Commons)