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This episode explores the impact of climate change on public health, traversing political, scientific, radical and spiritual realms with our Mothers of Invention.


Mary and Maeve learn how all of our access to the very basics - clean air, clean water, livable temperatures - are at risk as well as the mental health implications of the destruction of the natural world. We meet a Black Lives Matter activist who believes that black neighbourhoods would be safer with less police and more trees. We speak to Siwatu Salama-Ra, a prolific environmental justice campaigner currently incarcerated in Detroit, Michigan and we spend time with a Traditional Custodian of the Fitzroy river in western Australia, currently at risk from fracking and industrial developments to consider our spiritual connection with nature.

This week’s Mothers of Invention are:

Sarra Tekola 

Black Lives Matter activist, scientist and academic working on a PhD in Sustainability at Arizona State University. Co-founder of Women of Color Speak Out.

Dr Anne Poelina

Nyikina Warrwa Traditional Custodian and academic working to promote new economy opportunities and green collar jobs for Indigenous people.

Dr Stella Hartinger

Doctor and researcher exploring the global health impacts of climate change and fossil fuel pollution. Contributor to the Lancet Countdown report.

Siwatu-Salama Ra

Climate justice activist. Co-Director of the East Michigan Environmental Action Council, building community power through environmental justice education, youth development, and collaborative relationship building. Learn about the campaign to free her from prison at

Follow the series on all social media using @mothersinvent to find out more, support the women in the series and get your hands on bonus material throughout the season.


Siwatu-Salama Ra

Climate justice activist, Co-Director of the East Michigan Environmental Action Council


Siwatu-Salama Ra and her mother, Rhonda Anderson, have spent much of their lives working to fight for environmental justice and protect their Detroit community from the dangers of pollution. Rhonda has organized for the local Sierra Club for over twenty years, and Siwatu is Co-Director of the East Michigan Environmental Action Council, where she has helped build community power through environmental justice education, youth development, and collaborative relationship building – even representing Detroit during the landmark COP21 climate talks in Paris.


But Siwatu’s vital work was devastatingly disrupted when in early 2018 she was sentenced to two years in prison, for defending herself and her young child from an attacker. Siwatu showed her legal, permitted, unloaded handgun in an attempt to scare off the attacker, as allowed by Michigan’s Stand Your Ground law. She did not fire the unloaded gun and no one was harmed.


Siwatu is 26, mother of a three year old, and was heavily pregnant at the time of her incarceration. In May 2018 she was forced to deliver her son Zakai under the watch of prison guards, and just 48 hours later was taken away from her newborn back to prison, where she is being denied the right to breastfeed him during the limited visits she is allowed to receive with her family. Help get her back to her fight for justice



Support Siwatu-Salama

Follow this link to sign up to Siwatu's Freedom Campaign and learn more at

FOLLOW #freesiwatu


    Sarra Tekola

    Climate justice and Black Lives Matter activist working on a PhD in sustainability



    Sarra Tekola is an activist, scientist and academic working on a PhD in sustainability at Arizona State University. She has a rich history of climate justice and racial justice activism, as part of intersecting movements from Black Lives Matter to the fight for fossil fuel divestment, a founding member of Women of Color Speak Out, and driver of Divest UW and Got Green's Climate Justice initiative, to name just a few.


    For Sarra, climate change hits close to home – she sees herself as the daughter of a climate refugee. Her father Fasil was forced to flee his homeland of Ethiopia in the 1970s, to escape a bloody civil war exacerbated by a severe drought that had crippled the agricultural economy. Her father’s story has led her to believe, as she shouted to a Washington crowd aged 21, that she was “born to fight climate change.”


    As part of her PhD, Sarra is exploring the social side of climate change, focusing on creating the cultural change Western society needs to successfully implement climate solutions. Sarra’s work is focused on recognising the role of colonialism in perpetuating climate change, and exploring healing the coloniser’s trauma of colonisation as a climate solution – a subject rarely discussed. This includes (but is not limited to) work around the decolonisation of Western society, helping people unlearn individualism, calling for climate reparations to all groups of colonised people, and healing race relations.


    Support Sarra

    In her work with a donation via

    Follow more of Sarra's work and stay updated for how to take action and support:

    One thing you can do now! Critically analyze yourself:


    How do you perpetuate the systems of oppression that have created climate change such as individualism, hierarchies, capitalism, patriarchy? How might you behave differently if you became cognizant of these societal attributes and worked to unlearn them?


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    Dr Stella Hartinger

    Doctor and researcher exploring the global health impacts of climate change and fossil fuel pollution



    Dr Stella Hartinger (MSc, PhD) is a Peruvian doctor and researcher specialising in the impact of environmental factors on community health. She currently works as Director of the Integrated Development, Health and Environment Unit at the Public Health School of Cayetano Heredia University in Lima.


    Stella co-authored the recent Lancet Countdown on health and climate change – a seminal journal that declared climate change a “public health emergency”. The 2017 report showed that climate change is already a critical public health issue, and that the delayed response to the problem has jeopardised human life and livelihoods. Not only that, findings indicated that climate change threatens to undermine the last 50 years of gains in public health.


    Stella has particular expertise around the threat of indoor air pollution from cooking on women and families. Her research has shown that this pollution causes more deaths globally than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. Despite all this, Stella remains optimistic – she believes action on climate change offers “the biggest opportunity to transform the global health in this century”.


    Support Stella 

    Learn more and follow Stella on Twitter


    Dr Anne Poelina

    Nyikina Warrwa Traditional Custodian and academic working to promote new economy opportunities and green collar jobs for Indigenous people.

    Western Australia


    Dr Anne Poelina is a Nyikina Warrwa Traditional Custodian from the Mardoowarra, Lower Fitzroy River in Western Australia. Her rich and varied background includes work spanning Indigenous health, education, language and community development; land and water management; academic diplomas in Nursing, Aboriginal Studies and Health Education; three masters degrees (in Education, Public Health and Indigenous Social Policy), and a Doctor of Philosophy. She is currently completing a second Doctorate in Philosophy (Health Science).


    Dr Poelina’s work explores the entrepreneurial 'New Economy' opportunities for Indigenous people in relation to green collar jobs across science, culture, heritage and conservation. She promotes the need to include traditional ecological knowledge, First Law and the rights of nature to the solutions for planetary health and wellbeing. Dr Poelina was instrumental enshrining the rights of Indigenous Nations into the Fitzroy River Declaration which has led to the formation of the Martuwarra Fitzroy River Council.


    Anne is currently Managing Director of Madjulla Inc (an Indigenous not-for-profit community development organisation), a counsellor and board member of the Australian Conservation Foundation. In her latest role as Chair of Martuwarra Fitzroy River Council she has been working to build the cultural governance of the Martuwarra Fitzroy River Council  to strengthen water stewardship and to monitor the cumulative impacts of large scale agriculture and mining developments proposed for the river country. This role is vital to strengthen cultural capacity to ensure sustainable life and sustainable development models to protect the survival of Indigenous people’s and their sacred River. If you are interested in supporting this work please contact Anne on her email

    Support Anne

    Learn more on the Madjulla website.


    For Updates

    FOLLOW @mothersinvent

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