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Katie Boué on Writing, Digital Advocacy, and Cultivating Community in the Outdoors

Photo Credit: Abbi Hearne

Katie, what was the catalyst for this book? And what was your approach to writing it?

Writing this book came during the most challenging period of my career––and personal life. I wrote most of the first draft during a hiatus from the internet after becoming burnt out on the digital space, and putting the culmination of my experiences, growth, challenges, successes, failures, and learnings was a cathartic experience. Through telling my own story, I was able to process and make sense of my wild journey into digital advocacy in the outdoor space. By putting words to paper, I was able to take my wins, losses, and everything in between, and transform them into relatable lessons we can all learn from as we navigate our roles in today’s digital world.

As for my process, as all good writers would say: it was chaos. My best writing is done in furious fits of fixation, staying up until 4:00 AM typing manically in the darkness, fully immersed in memory and words. I wrote pieces of the book while sitting in my childhood backyard in Miami, parked at rest stops across the Mountain West, at my campsites in Southern Utah, on airplanes, in coffee shops, and at my kitchen counter. One year after I started writing the book while at home in Miami, I found myself back in Florida signing off on the final manuscript edits––a perfect full-circle moment.

Through writing this book, how has your perception of social media and digital advocacy changed?

Writing has always been my preferred medium for expressing myself and better understanding the world, but when Fulcrum approached me about telling my story, I wasn’t sure I was ready to dig in and share my most vulnerable bits with the world. Pulling––sometimes dragging––these memories and ponderings from the careful corners I had tucked things away into was hard but helpful. Through examining where I came from, what my intentions in advocacy are, how things when well, how they went wrong, and how I want to live moving forward, I was able to make sense out of both painful moments and fond memories.

Through writing the book, I solidified my original hypothesis: that while we are obligated to act as advocates for the earth, we are also responsible to be good neighbors to each other and ourselves. The digital space is currently in an ugly, violent era and I’d love to see us all begin to witness the hideous bits and collectively work to dismantle them through empathy and joy.

I think we can often learn a lot about ourselves through the process of writing. Did you have that experience? If so, what did you learn?

I learned that therapy is the best investment I have ever made in myself––but really. Being able to process experiences, hold empathy for others, not take things personally, and truly learn that other people’s opinions are simply none of my business were invaluable tools in being able to remove myself from the sensitive personal nature of my own experience and share the universal learnings of my story from a bigger lens.

What are some of the major pros of digital or online advocacy? What are some of the cons?

The digital space is forever one of my favorite tools for advocacy. The accessibility and connectivity of the internet is a beautiful gift, allowing us to transcend geography and physical access. The speed and volume at which we can share information and galvanize to take action is unparalleled, and the power of social media will remain forever in my opinion.

That said, I think the internet is truly in its ugliest era right now. We have lost our sense of in-real-life community standards and ethics for interpersonal relationships, and it’s rearing its head in ways that are frankly violent and dangerous. It’s frustrating to see lateral negativity and hate amongst communities that should be working together.

I believe we can course correct if we choose to.

What is your vision for your own life as an advocate moving forward?

My vision for my life as an advocate moving forward is one filled with the local community, time spend engaging in the natural spaces I care so much about, more hands-on involvement, and taking myself a little bit less seriously. As much as I believe we need to be actively involved in the issues we want to fight against, I think we need to be spending even more energy in cultivating the positive future and outcomes we wish to see. It can’t all be about our inevitable climate apocalypse doomsday––we have to envision the positive alternative too, and work hard to make it a reality.

What are you reading yourself these days?

My bookshelf has been full of publications by women writers these days––and I love that. A few current favorites include:

  • Living the Vanlife: On the Road Toward Sustainability, Community, and Joy by Noami Grevemberg

  • Women and Water: Stories of Adventure, Self-Discovery, and Connection in and on the Water by Gale Straub

  • And a forever favorite to pick up and read a chapter or two of: All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis edited by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katharine K. Wilkinson

What’s on your playlist?

Right now I am surviving organizing a book tour, planning a DIY wedding, and living through a home renovation all at the same time by playing Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong albums on repeat, with lots of gardening podcasts (like the KSL Greenhouse) mixed in.

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