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Meet the grad creating soundscapes to raise climate change awareness

Zoé Bailly-Stetson hopes to inspire social change through Concordia’s community radio station
February 3, 2021
By Suzanne Bowness

Zoé Bailly-Stetson sits under a tree, with her bicycle “Interviewing makes me feel like I'm being let into someone else's life. There's a lot of trust,” says Zoé Bailly-Stetson, BA 20.

Ask Zoé Bailly-Stetson, BA 20, about her recent work and she reveals that she’s spent most of her time — pre-snow days — biking around Montreal, gathering sound. One day might have been spent at a park, another at a parking lot. Once compiled, her collected soundscape was paired with live interviews to help tell stories about an important topic: climate change.

Her work was of a new project by CJLO 1690AM  — Concordia’s community radio station — called Sounds in Our Changing Worlds, dedicated to stories about climate change in Montreal.

“It’s an important concept, to look at Montreal and the direct effects of the climate crisis here,” says Bailly-Stetson, “to see which parts of the city are most affected, which people are most vulnerable.”

To kick off the project, CJLO appointed Halifax-based CBC journalist Moira Donovan as its first audio storytelling resident and Bailly-Stetson as her production assistant. Together, the duo created an eight-episode podcast called Zone Rouge with topics ranging from heatwaves and flooding to waste.

Bailly-Stetson was excited both about her role and the podcast’s format, which combined experimental techniques with factual reporting to target an audience of young people who feel overwhelmed and disconnected from the climate crisis.

Zoé Bailly-Stetson captures sound on a dock near a lake. Bailly-Stetson created an eight-episode podcast called "Zone Rouge" with topics ranging from heatwaves and flooding to waste.

A graduate from Concordia’s Communication Studies program, Bailly-Stetson had already worked on art projects as a student that used interviewing to interrogate environmental topics. For example, her Uncertain Futures project, for which she won a Concordia grant, focused on asking students how they feel the climate crisis in their bodies, and the tools they use to process eco-anxiety.

She adds that Montreal and Concordia have really become her creative community, especially given that she emigrated from Australia for her studies. She highlights that Concordia's Acts of Listening Lab, where she worked for a summer, was a place for her to research the ethics of story collecting.

As a second part of her engagement with CJLO, Bailly-Stetson was also invited to create the first of a series of three workshops for Concordia journalism and communications students. “CJLO gave me full range for the focus. They told me, ‘We need young people to get excited about reporting on the climate crisis in a different way,’” says Bailly-Stetson.

She decided to focus on how journalism is rooted in a colonial narrative and the problems of objectivity. Reaching out to journalists across Canada, Bailly-Stetson took pride in securing CBC journalist Duncan McCue, currently on a Massey College journalism fellowship, to facilitate the Zoom session.

As for her career moving forward, Bailly-Stetson says that she would be thrilled to continue down this path. “If I can still collect sound and if I'm still learning how to use interviews for social change, I'll have made it,” she says. “Interviewing makes me feel like I'm being let into someone else's life. There's a lot of trust.”

Zone Rouge episodes aired on CJLO in December and January, and streamed on the station’s website.


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