Grist is excited to announce four fellows as part of its new Community Reporting Fellowship. These Georgia residents will spend six weeks learning journalism skills and creating projects that inform their communities about the Georgia Public Service Commission, the small but powerful elected board that makes critical decisions about energy and electricity and has been mired in a lawsuit over voting rights. 

This fellowship is part of a larger project by Grist and Atlanta’s NPR affiliate WABE to demystify energy policy and affordability issues in the state. It’s also a part of Grist’s new community engagement strategy, helmed by senior manager of community engagement Lyndsey Gilpin.

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Here’s more about the fellows:

Courtney Camp is a Georgia native whose work is rooted in research and advocacy at the intersection of environmental and climate justice and Black spatialities and geographies. Previously an ecologist for the Georgia Department of Transportation, she now works as an environmental educator and consultant in her Atlanta community. She runs Spirited Earth, which provides natural resource education and consultations with landowners to learn more about their land, in order to support sustainable and equitable communities.

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Tia Lockhart lives in Macon, Georgia, and has a passion for creating inclusive spaces where Black voices are heard, valued, and celebrated. She is a marketing specialist and is currently involved in several community projects, including co-creating a justice-based community development initiative targeted redlining and disinvestment in Macon, as well as creating curricula for a youth mentoring program. 

Cassandra Loftlin lives in Augusta and is a lifelong Georgian. Formerly a chef and food writer, she has most recently been a fellow for Vital Village Network and Black Culinary Alliance Global, where she developed programs to address food insecurity and empower BIack and Indigenous people, and other people of color within the food system. She is also an advocate of environmental stewardship through work with organizations including Savannah Riverkeeper, Growing Augusta, Sustainable CSRA, and Healthy Communities-Augusta.

Clarence Thomas is based in Macon. He is a father of three and the recreation center supervisor for Macon-Bibb County Recreation Department. He has worked as a television news videographer and freelance journalist, writing for Georgia Trend Magazine, Macon Magazine, and the Middle Georgia Informer. In addition to his professional expertise, he is a concerned citizen who exercises his interest in improving the community through outreach organizations focused on educational, cultural, and civic empowerment. 

Gilpin will spearhead the fellowship, and Grist reporters, editors, and other staff will lead workshops on journalism ethics, writing, multimedia, fact-checking, and more. The outreach and assignments will be informed by the community listening sessions Grist hosted in Georgia last month. Grist will ensure the projects are completed, published, and distributed online or via print in order to fill information gaps. 

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“I’m thrilled these four folks are part of our first cohort, bringing expertise from ecology, farming, organizing, community leadership, and youth outreach,” Gilpin said. “We’re all eager to learn from them and share journalism skills with them over the next six weeks.” 

Read more about the fellowship program, and Grist’s larger community engagement strategy