A fun Q&A with Emily Harwitz, host of the I’ll Go If You Go podcast
by Dana Poblete on
She's a multimedia science journalist, a flautist, a Kate Bush fan, and now a podcaster
In season 2 of the League’s podcast I’ll Go If You Go, Emily Harwitz goes on adventures in the forest with some brilliant and creative community members who are doing cool stuff in the redwoods. The thing is, Emily herself is just as fascinating and dynamic as this season’s roster of guests; she is earthy and otherworldly all at once, infinitely curious, and a nature nerd with flair. We picked Emily’s brain about what makes her tick, the podcast, and the outdoors. Get to know her after the jump.
Who are you?
I am a warm-blooded animal who loves to eat fruit, drink tea, and laugh. I play the flute and the drums (not at the same time) and love being active—physically, mentally, or both! I think a lot about my roots, like the land and communities I come from and am part of now. I love science and art and learning about new ways to think about things. I’m inspired by so many things in nature: the beauty and strength of a beetle carapace, the softness of a flower petal, the intricate ways in which everything is connected. Emergent properties are so cool.
Tell me about a place in nature that feels like home.
Montgomery Woods State Natural Reserve! It’s a beautiful old-growth forest in Mendocino County that feels like Disneyland, but better. Wandering among the massive old-growth redwoods, I feel so safe and protected. There are fallen logs to scramble on, emerald pools fed by gently burbling streams, air so fresh it is a joy to breathe in. Plus, there is so much to look at, from the banana slugs among the ferns all the way up to the owl I have been lucky enough to see flying silently overhead. I feel so free to just frolic around with my friends in this nature playground. It is a truly magical experience. I feel especially honored to be there knowing that Ynes Mexia, a Mexican American adventuring botanist woman, helped to protect the grove a hundred years back because she had fallen in love with it, too.
What makes a place or an experience feel welcoming to you?
I feel welcome when I feel free to laugh. I think a place or experience feels welcoming when it is able to foster uninhibited moments of joy or understanding, especially of one’s connection to everything around us.
Why is I’ll Go If You Go—and other podcasts like it—relevant and important?
We are nature and nature is for everyone. The conservation movement and outdoors industry have historically excluded certain communities, like BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and disabled folks. This podcast, and others like it, help expand the perception of who belongs outdoors and what it looks like to be with nature. I hope listeners will be able to see themselves and their communities in the stories we share on this podcast. I’ll Go If You Go is part of the movement to build community with each other and the planet.
What do you want people to take away from listening to I’ll Go If You Go?
I hope listeners hear the guests’ stories and feel excited and inspired to try out the activities themselves, solo or with friends and family. I also want people to hear that there are many different ways to connect with the outdoors. Plus, I hope people learn some cool science and nature facts that enrich their experiences outdoors.
Has there been a particularly memorable moment from your experiences with your guests so far that you want to share about?
For the birding episode with Clay Anderson, Clay and I met up at Lake Merritt in Oakland. Lake Merritt is a popular park and there were indeed lots of people walking around and recreating. At one point, a man wandered nearby and started grunting loudly while staring at the sun and shimmying his chest towards the sky. We had to move a couple times due to background noise like that. Clay and I had such a great time talking that, after the interview ended, we stayed at the lake for an hour just chatting about life, spirituality, our experiences being POC in the environmental education world. And of course, every now and then we’d stop everything and admire a nearby bird.
Are there other podcasts you’ve listened to about nature and the outdoors that people should check out?