(EN) It’s Freezing in LA!: The multidisciplinary magazine bringing contagious optimism to the climate crisis
Features > (EN) It’s Freezing in LA!: The multidiscip…

(EN) “I’m in Los Angeles and it’s freezing, » tweeted Donald Trump, President-to-be, in December 2013. “Global warming is a total, and very expensive, hoax!” His crude denialism now echoes forever in the beautifully-bound and sustainably-produced copies of It’s Freezing in LA!.

(EN) Launched last year, the London-based magazine embraces new ways of seeing the climate crisis, striving to “explore the most complicated issue humanity has ever faced from as many angles as possible,” says Deputy Editor Jackson Howarth IFLA! brings a fresh, multidisciplinary approach to independent publishing. It presents diverse perspectives on the environment from writers, activists and illustrators, in printed issues bearing weighty themes like “Fire” and “Protest”. Beyond the printed (and recycled) page, the magazine’s team also work on exhibitions, host busy events, and collaborate with a range of people and publications.

Behind IFLA!’s success is the determined work of its team: writers, designers, and illustrators who juggle their full-time jobs with an impassioned commitment to the magazine. Driven by a frustration with the abstractions and technicalities of climate discourse, they hope to empower readers with a more tangible understanding of the crisis and its wide-ranging implications. “We want our readers to feel like they have something to bring to the table, » says Howarth, “creating interest is paramount—emotion, and action will follow.” Following the release of IFLA!’s fourth issue, “Storm”, we were curious to learn about the outlook and experiences of Howarth and his colleagues. How can independent media make a difference in the sweltering politics of climate change? The urgency of the crisis is gaining wider acceptance. But the endurance of increasingly hysterical denialism is a call for exactly the kind of action that IFLA! engages in with a relentless and contagious optimism.

(EN) Tell me about how It’s Freezing in LA! started. And on the release of your fourth issue, how has it grown?

JH: IFLA! started out in early 2018, when our Editor, Martha Dillon, Art and Visual Content Editor, Nina Carter, and Designer, Matthew Lewis came together with the idea of creating a magazine that did climate communication a little differently. I joined as Deputy Editor just after the publication of Issue one and quickly heard how the team had sat up for two days straight, hand-sewing the spines of the first 250 issues. Since then the magazine has come on in leaps and bounds. Issue four, Storm, launched on December 1, and is stocked everywhere from MoMA in New York to the Tate Modern in London. We have an ever-growing community of IFLA! editors, illustrators, readers and other greatly appreciated familiar faces. As a team working in our spare time, as a labor of love, we can’t quite believe it.

One IFLA! article that I really enjoyed was Lola Young’s in your third issue—tracing a history of the climate crisis from the slave trade and Edmund Burke right through to the Afrofuturism of Sun Ra and Octavia Butler. This kind of writing makes climate more than just a problem to be worked out by scientists and politicians. Why is this wider vision of the climate crisis so critical?

JH: We think it is absolutely vital to explore the most complicated issue humanity has ever faced from as many angles as possible. Traditional climate communication has often either been too technical, abstract, and repetitive—or too ‘doomsday’, overwhelming, and difficult to digest. At IFLA! we recognize that everybody has unique interests, and there will be a way that the climate intersects with those interests. Our articles explore the way the climate crisis weaves through everything from architecture and engineering, to theater and politics, and our contributors, like Lola Young, often draw on a multitude of subjects at once. I believe that fascination lends itself to healthy, sustained attention. Articles that open up a range of questions and give readers the tools to form their own opinions (as opposed to telling them what to believe) empower audiences to engage. We want our readers to feel like they have something to bring to the table. For us, creating interest is paramount—emotion, and action will follow.

(EN) « We think it is absolutely vital to explore the most complicated issue humanity has ever faced from as many angles as possible. »

(EN) Why is collaboration important for tackling the climate crisis and specifically for publishing on the crisis? Who do you work with right now and who would you like to work with?

JH: Collaboration is vital when pushing for systemic change. You can try and enact change on your own, but you often get the impression that you are really just fiddling in the margins. Collaboration between different fields and areas is especially important, so that scientists aren’t just talking to scientists. Everybody has something to bring to the table. As a magazine that marries politics, science, and art, we have been lucky enough to help facilitate this conversation, and to have worked with politicians like the Green Party’s Caroline Lucas, political magazines like Contra Journal, London’s Science Museum and New Scientist Live, alongside artistic and design-orientated studios like It’s Nice That. It would be really exciting to keep working in this way, and with other organizations that have carved out a similar niche—for me, London’s Wellcome Collection springs to mind.

It seems to me recently that we’re seeing more zines and magazines cut their own, iconoclastic path. What publications was IFLA! inspired by? Who do you admire?

JH: We have a lot of respect for the magazines we have come across through working with Magculture, like Contra Journal, who cover politics and visual art. More traditionally, I enjoy the London Review of Books, who have mastered the long-form article, weaving through numerous topics while taking full advantage of the longer attention spans print media affords. I also admire Science For The People, who, like us, marry science, politics, and visual art in an attempt to enact real change, and I’m delighted that they are returning to print this April after 30 years. The IFLA! team also have a lot of respect for Migrant Journal, who are also working towards a good cause, and have especially tight design.

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(EN) For one issue, It's Freezing in LA produced a timeline of events related to Hurricane Dorian, the most intense tropical cyclone on record to strike the Bahamas.

(EN) What does it mean to be a sustainable independent magazine with minimal environmental impact?

JH: We feel that when you write a magazine, you do not just encode the information and the values that are printed as content, you also embody values in the object itself. We are keen for Its Freezing In LA!, as an object, to practice what it preaches. This means using recycled paper, vegetable-based ink, and choosing printers who print in a carbon-conscious way. All postage materials are recycled, we ask that people reuse the envelope that your copy of IFLA! comes in, or at least recycle it. Our website is hosted by DreamHost, because of their attention to the energy supply to and the footprint of their data centers and offices.

IFLA! is a beautiful magazine that makes great use of graphics and illustration. Visuality is clearly an important strand of your work—what is the role of visual culture in fighting the climate crisis?

JH: Visual art is so important because while we explore this complicated climate crisis from different angles, we also see the value of using different mediums. Visual media, and our illustrations in particular are especially useful because you can outline or explore ideas, inspire emotion, and direct attention in new ways, which are often less repetitive or overwhelming. We pair each of our writers with an illustrator, and they both work simultaneously from the same early draft, exploring the same ideas in different ways. Our data-driven graphics have also proved to be great at representing technical ideas in ways that feel fresh and engaging.

(EN) You guys throw a lot of events. How have events helped IFLA! grow as a young magazine?

JH: Events like our recent interactive Carbon Calculator at the Science Museum, or ‘We Will Be Forgotten’ an art exhibition (highlighting our relationships with the materials we use) set up in collaboration with Contra Journal, are obviously great at getting the word out. However, as physical objects, magazines create an atmosphere around them, and events also provide an opportunity to expand that atmosphere into new spaces – to hone and refine it. Magazines, especially science magazines, don’t have to be written in such a prescriptive way—‘we have something we tell you, and you must listen’—but events can be much more obviously participatory. They invite people to take part in building that atmosphere.

How do you see IFLA! developing in the future?

JH: Honestly, I really hope IFLA! continues to grow—that we can engage more people, and find new, innovative ways to do so. We’re quite keen to work with another medium; recently we’ve been talking about podcasts. We’re also eager to keep working in partnership with different groups from artistic, scientific, and political spheres, and to break down perceived barriers between those realms. For the moment, the climate crisis is only going to get worse. People are becoming more climate-conscious, but they need avenues that they can channel their newfound attention down. Hopefully we can provide some of the materials to inform more detailed opinions about the causes and impacts of this multifaceted crisis, and its solutions.

(EN) It’s Freezing in LA is an independent print magazine bringing together diverse perspectives on climate change. Four issues have been produced since 2018 by its London-based team of writers, illustrators, and designers. The latest, “Storm”, can be ordered on their website.

If you’re looking for more FvF interviews with purveyors of printed matter check out our recent pieces on TOO MUCH magazine and The Funambulist.

Text: Billy Sawyers