Every week in the climate, science, social justice, and environmental spaces is as diverse as Uproot’s membership. Field Notes, our week-in-the-life blog posts, are snapshots of the varied experiences that make our community so vibrant.
Name: Siri Chilukuri
Location: Chicago, IL
Job description: I’m the Environmental Justice Fellow at Grist
Years of experience: 5
Social media handles: @schilukuri1 on Twitter
One word to describe your week: Hectic!
A Week in the Life
Oh, Mondays! I usually wake up and make my breakfast of choice: poached eggs with labneh, paprika, parsley, some lemon zest, and salt. It’s my favorite type of fancy toast and takes about 15 minutes to prepare. Once I’ve got my caffeine (black tea) and breakfast, it’s off the races. This week, I’m tackling edits on an environmental justice story I’m working on about a neighborhood in a city in Texas. Stay tuned for that since I’ve been working on it for a minute.
Today is BUSY! I call my aunt in India first thing, since it’s her birthday! She’s in the middle of eating dinner, so I keep it short. My family is from South India and so my aunt speaks Telugu primarily. I try to make an effort to talk in my broken, grammatically incorrect way. Then, I start my workday and keep chugging along on stories. We also got back headshots today from work! I love mine. After work, I’m on a call with folks from the Asian American Journalists Association to figure out how we can run the organization’s affinity groups well — I’m the co-director of the LGBTQ+ affinity group. I’m tired, but I love the energy of people around me; it keeps me going.
I ease into my day today because I know it’s going to be a long one. The highlight is a dance class that is taught by a popular queer dancer in Chicago nightlife. She’s incredible, and even though I believe I might pass out during the warm-up, I don’t! At one point, she says, “We’re here to cultivate queer joy,” and I think about how grateful I am for these spaces when so many others throughout the country are not safe for queer people, much less queer joy. Every person I meet is friendly and kind; I go to bed extremely tired but grateful.
I’m up early and have filed edits on the Texas story to my editor, then spend time on other stories. After work, there is an AAJA local chapter holiday party. It makes me so happy to see how we can build community amongst the AAPI community here in Chicago. Afterward, I’m on the phone with a representative from Mozambique for a story that I’m co-writing on how developing nations would spend money from Loss and Damage. The WhatsApp call connection is spotty, so we end up exchanging questions and answers over chat, but he sends me a voice message (something I hadn’t thought to ask for until it was on TikTok in another context).
I’m up early again to figure out more details for the loss and damage story. I’m so honored to be a part of reporting out this story because I truly believe journalism which seeks to uplift the voices of peoples and countries that are already impacted or will be impacted by climate change is the most precious and vital form of journalism. Since I worked late to accommodate time zone differences in Mozambique and the US, I’m heading out early today to do some watercolors and take a nap. Then, it’s off to dinner at a South Indian restaurant with my friend Nani.
Saturday and Sunday:
On Saturday, I cancel my plan to go to a makers mart and have a day at home instead. I order some lunch and am happily watching rom-coms and chilling on the couch. After a hectic week and a night out, a chill day in is the perfect antidote to the chaos of it all.
On Sunday, I wake up early and make myself some shakshuka, the popular North African/Middle Eastern dish with poached eggs in a tomato and bell pepper sauce. I like to put feta on mine. Then it’s off to spend time with my younger sister and mom for my sister’s birthday. In the evening, we play uno and sing Olivia Rodrigo very loudly before eating dinner. Then I head home very full and very happy.
From the Wild:
What would your animal companion be if you were a cartoon character?
What is one thing you always do when visiting somewhere new?
Go to a bookstore. My favorite one has been Akshara Books in Hyderabad
Three most-used emojis?
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