“As we are reminded by this week’s alarming United Nations report on biodiversity loss, sustainability challenges pose an increasingly urgent threat. But we are also reminded through careful research and skillful youth activism that awareness of problems like climate change and species extinction does not often translate to response. A deeper cultural ethos needs to change if we are to mainstream sustainability into individual behaviors, social norms and business practices. We need to find additional tools, in complement to science and logic, to elevate environmental concerns in our collective consciousness.
Design is one of these tools; another is media. One young entrepreneur, Jake Sargent, is combining them in a new climate and culture magazine he founded, called Atmos. I spoke with Jake about tapping the powerful potential of creatives to influence perception and action on sustainability.
Lorin Fries: Why did you create Atmos Magazine?
Jake Sargent: Atmos began with Softmatter, an investment fund I co-founded to invest in consumer brands pursuing environmental progress and human wellness. It reflects the thesis that to achieve a more sustainable economy, we need not only to invest in businesses, but also in cultural shifts. We’ve found a wealth of interest within the creative community to express unique, creative perspectives on our environmental crisis. Atmos exists as a platform for that kind of expression. I’m hoping the magazine can inspire leaders to adopt sustainability issues as a primary focus of their work, and those priorities can permeate through the economy and culture from there.
Fries: Could you describe a few stories from the magazine’s first publication?
Sargent: We chose the theme “Neo-Natural” for our first volume to explore our disconnection from nature and the tension between technology and the natural world. In the opening story, the musician and artist ANOHNI advocates for “de-escalation” and containing the development of technology to conform to our values as a global community. A separate piece, “Adapting to the Anthropocene”, profiles communities in Kiribati, India and British Columbia that are evolving alongside their new climate realities, developing solutions that work within nature’s systems. Other stories offer a contrasting perspective, like “Control, Alt, Replete”, which profiles how drones are being developed to protect and restore ecosystems.
We’re committed to exploring all solutions and perspectives that lead to positive outcomes for the environment. We want to see a more sustainable economy and way of life. But, as a publication, we are not trying to take a moral stance on how we get there.”