Libby Leonard is a journalist currently based in Hawai’i. After several years writing interactive stories for youth at various game companies, in 2019 she started her journalism career, where her coverage mainly follows environmental and social justice, and favors solutions-based stories that help give others a blueprint towards a better world.
Her work can be seen in National Geographic, SF Gate, The Guardian, Yes! Magazine, Civil Eats, Modern Farmer, EcoWatch and forthcoming from others. She is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and Pen America.
Prior to this, she was a playwright and screenwriter. Her plays have been workshopped, produced, developed and commissioned locally in New York, and throughout the rest of the country. She was the recipient of the Alan Minieri Memorial Playwriting Award, as well as a semi-finalist for the P73 Fellowship, Juilliard, and the Princess Grace Award. As a screenwriter, her work has been a quarter-finalist for the Academy Awards’ Nicholl Fellowship. She received her MFA from Columbia University, where she was a Liberace Scholar, Howard Stein Fellow, and Shubert Fellow.
In her spare time she involves herself with plants and swimming with fish.
What environmental cause are you most passionate about, and why?
I feel like there isn’t any one that I gravitate toward on its own. My throughway to most causes, though, is usually my passion for local changemakers who are trying to solve or already solving larger problems within communities with various causes. I think about change at the local level a lot and how it impacts greater change overall.
Focusing locally makes larger issues seem more manageable too. The rural town I live in is all about building local food resilience, and looking out for one another in a number of ways. There are still issues going on, but the overall vibe of community is pretty much ever-present, and so are the tireless solutions-makers who work on both a social and environmental level. I will say that I’m also passionate about Indigenous science being at the forefront of climate change efforts as well.
What’s your favorite topic to cover?
While I don’t do it nearly enough as I’d like, I really love covering agriculture stories. One of my favorite farmers says “there is no culture without agriculture” and I agree.
What’s your favorite story you’ve written so far, and why?
I wrote about this educational agriculture nonprofit in Hawai’i for Yes! Magazine. One of its programs is for families, and they give 6 to 10 families crop rows at the nonprofit’s farm to grow whatever they want to for free while learning sustainable farming methods, empowering them to then go home and continue. I loved this story for so many reasons, but I think because this nonprofit didn’t just arm these people with knowledge, but with so many good values is what made it more special for me.
In your opinion, why should people care about the environment?
Our children and their children’s future. I think while I find it galvanizing seeing a lot of youth fighting against climate change right now, I wish larger powers could step up so they can just worry about normal kid things.
What do you hope to accomplish through your writing?
While I write about all kinds of things, at the end of the day, if one of my stories can provide hope, or give people the tools or ideas they didn’t have before to make positive changes where they are, or to provide more understanding in some way, then I feel like I’ve accomplished something. It gets hard sometimes to focus on that, but if you look, with most things you can find the people creating the change, usually on the grassroots level…I placed a piece of paper on the wall in my office that says “Yes, but what are the solutions?” for the moments when I forget to look.
- Solutions Stories
- Environmental Justice
- BA in English, Penn State
- MFA in Playwriting, Columbia University