The Drag partners with Planet Texas 2050 for environmental podcast

Portraits of Will Brooks (left) and Aurora Berry (right)

Aurora Berry and Will Brooks are embarking on an audio journey to tell the stories of the resilience of Texans battling the effects of climate change. 

In partnership with Planet Texas 2050, a University of Texas organization that brings together researchers across campus to find solutions regarding environmental change in the Lone Star State, journalism sophomore Berry and journalism senior Brooks will investigate stories of how climate change impacts people on a personal level. 

“Our goal is to humanize this issue and make people realize that even if you don’t think that you’ve been impacted by climate change, it is definitely already playing a part in your life,” Berry said.

To bring the focus to Texas, the pair will look into well-known environmental effects, such as the fires in Bastrop, renewable energy and the quest for sustainable ranching. 

The podcasting duo have each felt the impact of environmental catastrophes. Brooks’ time at UT Austin has been bookended by two natural disasters. He entered the university when Hurricane Harvey hit, and he’s graduating in May, three months after Austin froze over and Texans lost power and water. 

Berry witnessed the Bastrop wildfires with her own eyes in 2011. Her family had just moved to the area, and once they had unpacked their belongings, they received an order to evacuate. As they drove away, Berry noticed how different locations produced different colors of smoke.

“I asked my mom, ‘Why does it change like that?’” Berry said. “She was like, ‘Oh well, when there’s black smoke, that means that it got a building, so it was somebody’s house.’”

In addition to addressing the serious aspects of climate change in Texas, Berry and Brooks plan to look at hopeful solutions to ongoing problems, both big and small. 

Berry and Brooks got their start in audio storytelling with The Daily Texan audio department. Berry has led the department as audio editor. For Drift Magazine, a student publication focused on the outdoors, Brooks has created his own podcast, titled “Ramble On!” which aims to emulate buddies sitting around a campfire telling stories. 

The Drag received a generous grant from Planet Texas 2050 as a part of the organization’s Artist in Residence program. The grant funds the project through August 2021, and The Drag is actively seeking donations to continue development on the podcast, with the hopes of releasing in spring 2022. Help fund the podcast by making a donation here.

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