A series that spotlights the inspiring women who are building inspiring things.
Cayte Bosler is a New York City based writer, editor, host, and producer who has contributed to the Atlantic, Fast Company, National Geographic, New York Observer, VICE, and more. She's reported from Afghanistan, India, Colombia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Uganda, Kenya, and the United States. She investigates solutions to the world's most pressing social and environmental issues, focusing on women-led initiatives/power structures as the key to peace and health for communities. Follow her on Twitter & Instagram to see more of her inspiring work.
What inspired you to become a journalist?
Over the years, I’ve studied and worked with communities rebuilding after war or ecological crisis (or both, they are often linked). I aim to extract wisdom, lessons, strategies, solutions, principles, essentially ground, on which to build and defend better possibilities for the world. I gravitate towards writing stories about “hope in the dark,” the title of a book by the formidable Rebecca Solnit.
To paraphrase from her, she writes how we are instructed to pay attention to the drama unfolding on the center stage, often played out by our politicians. We feel sick about it. Meanwhile, all of these passionate, dedicated people are furthering profound causes, but we have to look to the aisles around us to notice them. Of course, they do not adhere to the ubiquitous “macho” hero motif. I was inspired to amplify the dignity, honor, power and perseverance of humans who take seriously the work of helping more humans, and the planet, to flourish. To tell their stories.
Your investigative journalism has taken you across the globe, what are some of the common themes you see globally amongst social entrepreneurs?
I report on and support entrepreneurs mostly born of the regions they seek to transform. Whether it’s locals solving for climate change or food security or healthcare, they do so from personal stakes. Often, the survival of their communities depends on solving the problem central to their business.
Be it an Afro-Mestizo population cradled in a Pacific Coast natural reserve in Oaxaca, Mexico—fecund with natural resources, but no working currency—who must increase access to education, or a population of farmers across rural Kenya who need to adapt to feed millions in the wake of climate change. For them, entrepreneurship is vital.
Our ability to be informed on geopolitics is unprecedented and we can’t take it for granted. We need to spotlight communities all around the world responding to social and environmental hardship with wicked creativity, imagination, and brute perseverance. That’s the big story to me, not the “hero” motif or all the despair.
What is one of the most exciting pieces you have done?
I’m fundraising to make a video series about ‘women in the field’ spanning many disciplines and endeavors. The first episode will feature explorers. It’s the stuff of storybooks. One woman is an Arctic diver who discovered a shipwreck from WW2; she now works with Inuit communities. Another woman is currently traveling for a year with her twelve year old daughter to wildlife conservations. It’s exciting to me because I think the project possesses a spirit we sorely need - a spirit embodied by women pushing internal and external boundaries to explore mystery and further scientific expeditions.
What is your biggest struggle in the hustle? (Be honest!)
To speak simple truths that people don’t often want to acknowledge. For example, I may be asked to report on how a city is adapting its infrastructure for climate change. I can write about retrofits, and indoor farming, and meanwhile, I know these are just band-aids on a gushing wound. We need to plan to live on an increasingly uninhabitable planet. But a lot in the mainstream media wants to flat out deny or act like we can make slight adjustments and all feel better about ourselves.
The reality is we can’t maintain indefinitely a large-scale human presence on the earth with the current “First-World” levels of consumption. We cannot know for sure what time the party will end, but the party’s over.
The structure of civilization for the United States operates to the detriment of life itself: the planet, humans, and other animals. Which means we face a major reconfiguration of the infrastructure that undergirds daily life, but meanwhile, there’s a desperation to avoid that reconfiguration and a torrential of denial.
The quest, for me, is to write about exceptional ways of living, being, surviving based on well-being for humans, other animals, and the planet.
Investigative journalism is still a relatively male-dominated field. What’s your advice for young women who aspire to enter the field?
Find supportive networks: workshops, online trainings, mentors, meetups. Make clear asks when you need help progressing. Learn self-defense skills. Know your legal rights. Speaking up is still dangerous, but the more you embody your right to, the more you’ll act on it. Use your voice even when it’s shaky. Remember, also, that respect begets respect.
Your magazine Hay Nonnie is awesome, what inspired you to start the magazine with your friend?
Maura and I spent many afternoons ambling along a creek path on our way to our college classes. We found a tuft of earth in the middle of the rapids one day and named it Hay Nonnie Island. We’ve faced a lot of hardship together. I think each of us is hard wired to find humor in situations no matter how dark or twisted. We made believe this island was a haven like a kid’s fort to dance, sing, play, jump around.
The more we grow as friends the more we challenge ourselves to confront the monstrous parts of the world. We decided to start by creating Hay Nonnie as an extension of our island. Our first theme was loss - we asked for reflections on what it does to you to lose something or someone. Other themes: body issue, home issue, and coming, the friendship issue. Maura hosts Hay Nonnie shows, too, in Chicago, the city where she continues to wow as an actress and comedy improv performer.
What is the item on your to do list that you wish you never had to do?
Pair socks from the laundry pile. I’ve always worn mismatched socks. I have such an aversion to matching them. It’s a form of tedium that drives me mad.
What is your favorite Instagram feed right now?
My friend Maura writes poems and makes metalsmith jewelry on mauramcdanel. Her daily creativity and tongue in cheek poems make me smile.
What is your favorite Twitter feed right now?
I’m going to side step slightly, and while I look at twitter feeds of individuals I respect often, I think there is a big need for thoughtful, critical analysis of world events in long form. I inhale the Foreign Policy Interrupted newsletter featuring dispatches from female foreign policy experts. Every Friday, I drink my coffee and pour over the weekly released consolidation of expert takes on current events, politics, and elections.
What is an article you read / podcast you listened to recently that felt like the writer/host was in your brain?
The 2 Dope Queens podcast. They deal with all tones of topics and manage to make light of anything. I walk to the subway laughing aloud to myself listening to them.
What is your favorite place you have ever been?
Cadaqués, Spain. Salvador Dalî lived and painted here. It’s a coastal town where the Pyrenees kiss the sea, built on the Iberian peninsula formed 20-80 mya. You can get an espresso and pastry and look out at a bay once defended by the Iberians from Turkish and Armenian pirates scouring the Mediterranean. The storybook history settles over you at each turn. The footpaths wind through cafes, shops, bakeries, and homes all covered in flowery plants. It’s no wonder Dalî thrived here. It’s both surreal and oddly comforting; good fertile ground for dreams to spring forth from.
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