The environment, and humans' impact on it, is the subject of much discussion these days—and for good reason. Human contributions to global warming, wildlife habitat destruction, and biodiversity loss have led to crises in our atmosphere, our oceans, our forests, and our plains.
For many people, the word "environment" evokes images of some pristine, natural world that is under threat. But the environment, says Severn Cullis-Suzuki, our featured interview subject in this issue, is all around us. Our cities and homes are important environments too.
While planning and compiling this issue of Room, we gave ourselves broad scope to explore the meaning of environment fully. We looked for pieces that evoked the mood and physicality of meaningful indoor and outdoor spaces, city or country. We wanted to know what is treasured about these spaces, and what is under threat? How does place interact with women's choices? Do women have unique roles to play in protecting our natural and built worlds, and why?
At a time when the word "environment" is so often used to talk about something under threat—whether it's an old-growth forest or a diverse city neighbourhood—it is stimulating to stop and consider what makes our environments worth saving in the first place.
Our natural and built worlds are more than just backdrops for living our lives. They are dynamic characters; living, breathing, pulsing with energy, lasting (we hope) long after we are gone. They give our choices and our actions context. We are part of the environments in which we live—and vice versa. We influence, and are influenced by, the places we inhabit. We each have a stake in what happens to our environments, and a responsibility to the other creatures—human or otherwise—who live in them too.
Sarah Leipciger is a Canadian living in London, England and working as a writer-in-residence at a young offenders prison. She has had work published in Prairie Fire, sub-TERRAIN, Rim Magazine, The Inner Harbour Review, and This Magazine, the latter a result of winning first place in its 2003 Great Canadian Literary Hunt. She has two small kids and has not slept in months.
Rachel Reems is an English teacher-in-training who likes to write on the sly (she pretends that she’s marking papers). She has lived on Vancouver Island all her life, and in some of her writing, not all, she draws inspiration from the stormy west coast. When she is not writing about the sea, she is hiking beside it or surfing in it.
Susan Young’s work has been published in Poetry Canada, Event, Prairie Fire, Vintage 97/98, and the anthology, Chasing Halley’s Comet. She has just completed her first manuscript of poems, In the room that became a forest. She lives in Vancouver.
Tomoyo Ihaya was born in Tsu-Citye, Japan and came to Canada in 1994. After completing her Master of Fine Arts in printmaking at the University of Alberta in 2002, she exhibited her work in many solo and group exhibitions, nationally and internationally. Her recent passion is to travel and to make art in countries like Mexico and India. She often explores the notion of connections between material and spiritual worlds in her work through the symbolic and physical representation of water.