Snowboarder, artist and climate change policy advisor… meet MJ, the person behind POW’s 2023 merch designs. Discover her passion for the natural world, snowboarding and using art as a powerful tool for climate activism.
Tell us about your background – have you always been so passionate about the natural world?
I was always into nature, but my climate interests really developed while I was at Uni. I spent heaps of time in the mountains and grew more concerned about the climate’s effects on the alpine environment. Then, Cyclone Pam hit Vanuatu in 2015–where my family is from–and I realised climate change would increase in frequency and severity. Being a Pacific Island snowboarder set me on this path of climate activism and advocacy.
When and where did you start snowboarding? What style of riding do you do?
I started in NZ as a teenager, at Cardrona Alpine Resort. My style is gentle and playful, enjoying power runs, side-hits, slashes in the slush and getting out a shovel to create spots. This season, I plan on doing more splitboarding missions.
What does your artistic process look like?
My illustrations for Climate Change Bowl are digital so I take my iPad everywhere I go. Sometimes I disappear into drawings for hours, in that state where everything flows. I love that about creating.
I use puns, positive messaging and bright colours to connect people with climate change solutions. That way the message remains positive and practical.
You have a masters degree in climate change science and policy – so you’re more qualified than most to talk on the issue. Why did you start using your artwork to tackle the problem?
Art bridges the ‘knowledge action gap’. We have known about climate change for decades, we know that solutions exist to tackle it, and yet there is insufficient action being taken to address it. People either don’t feel connected enough to take action, or the science and solutions are too complex to grasp. Art connects people to climate change, in a way that’s easy to digest.
You don’t need a formal education–or to know everything–to take action. Just get out there and start contributing. If you don’t know where to start, ask climate change orgs in your area what kind of support they need, and how you can get involved.
It is quite easy to pigeonhole POW as an organisation that is pursuing self interest (we all want snow to have fun right?), but for parts of NZ and Australia, winter sports are key economic drivers. How do you think we could communicate the importance of winter to the broader community?
We wintersports folk are in a unique position. We see the effects climate change is having right now. We understand the harm it can cause and want to make a difference. Any action taken will contribute to improvements locally and globally.
Money talks. It’s worth communicating–especially to businesses, corporations, and industry players who are driven by profits–that investing in climate solutions now can lead to benefits later. I’d spark their interest and point them down that pathway to finding viable alternatives.
What are three easy things skiers and snowboarders can do right now to reduce their carbon footprint?
- Shift your investments (bank accounts, super) to ethical funds without fossil fuel investments
- Get involved with community climate groups to amplify your voice
- Write to local government representatives asking for affordable, accessible public transport (preferably electric) and encourage your friends to do the same
Travelling to enjoy snow sports can feel hypocritical when you care about fighting climate change. How do you approach that contradiction?
Blaming ourselves isn’t helpful. These issues are systemic and much, much larger than individuals. Focus on fossil fuel companies and governments who got us into this mess. They’re the ones delaying action to continue collecting profits.
We should come together, make changes and support each other. Live consciously and minimise your personal impact, yes, but you don’t need to be perfect to be an advocate.
Show your support!
Follow Climate Change Bowl on Instagram.
Grab a shirt or sticker, while stocks last. Funds raised through merchandise sales go towards key campaigns focused on reducing the carbon footprint of Australia’s winter sports industry and environmental restoration.