A fellow during the 2008 inaugural summer of Breakthrough Generation, Lindsay Meisel continues to use the knowledge of climate and energy issues as well as framing and messaging that she gained during her time here to inform her work as a copywriter at Underground Ads. Aside from being a tireless runner, Lindsay is an avid writer and maintains a blog called, "Different Kind of Human."
What have you been doing since the Breakthrough Generation Fellowship?
After the Breakthrough Generation fellowship was over, I immediately started working as a copywriter at an ad agency called Underground Ads that works exclusively with non profits and government agencies.
How has Breakthrough informed the work you are doing now?
Everyone I work with knows the background I have from Breakthrough and every time we get some sort of global warming or environmental project, they always put me on it. I've had many opportunities to share the Breakthrough perspective on these projects and inform the communication strategy we ultimately take.
With some of our environmental-focused clients, I've been able to push them a little bit to avoid those obvious, overused, antiquated ways of talking about the environment, climate, and energy, and instead find novel ways to communicate about these issues. Sometimes it's a successful, gratifying experience and I'm really thankful for everything I learned at Breakthough. Other times it can be really frustrating.
What was your favorite aspect of the fellowship?
One of my favorite aspects was getting access to the Senior Fellows and picking their brains. Especially Roger Pielke, Jr. His whole philosophy on honest brokers in science and the difference between science and politics left a lasting impression on me. He's my role model.
What advice or encouragement would you offer to incoming fellows?
I think they should all feel lucky and good about themselves. The more time goes on, the more I'm in awe of how great an opportunity it was, as young people, to have someone have such faith in you. It's rare. But as the record of Breakthrough Generation has shown, when you have high expectations of young people they do great things.
What book(s) are you currently reading?
I always have Nietzsche on my bed table even if I'm not reading it cover to cover. Nietzsche just makes me joyful to be alive.
Aside from that I'm reading a compilation of short stories called The Best American Non-Required Reading. They are great if you don't have a long attention span. I also just got this book of poetry by Frederick Seidel, which I'm in love with. I read one of his poems in the New Yorker and I was so impressed by it, I had to get his book.
What is your favorite book of all time?
Lolita is one of them because it showed me that what a book is about is completely irrelevant. The way Lolita is written is so beautiful, and English wasn't even Vladimir Nabokov's first language. It's the reason I would never read literature in translation--it misses the whole point of reading, which is not for someone's ideas but for the experience of their words. And there is no better experience of words than in Lolita.
Do you have any intellectual or political role models?
Well I already mentioned Pielke. Another intellectual role model would be one of my rhetoric professors in college. He talked about how language doesn't just refer to things; language is also performative. Language is actually something itself. He put into words something I had always felt, as a lover of language: that I don't just love the ideas words express, but words themselves. And his animated, expletive-laden lectures illustrated this perfectly.
[Ed. note you can read Professor Daniel Coffeen's blog here to learn more]
What is your favorite thing about the Bay Area?
My favorite thing about the Bay Area is the moderate weather -- I am not a creature of extreme temperatures -- and also the many miles of running trails that I could not live without. And, of course, the food.
If you could offer future fellows one piece of advice about working in Oakland, what would it be?
Don't ignore the beautiful trails. Even though you think you're in a big city, surrounded by concrete, steel, and glass, there are some of the most amazing trails to explore in the East Bay, North Bay, and San Francisco.
What's your favorite memory from your summer with BTI?
[Breakthrough Fellow] Adam Zemel and I were trying to make this narrative for a campaign we were working on and although we didn't produce a solid completed product, we worked really well together and had a lot of fun. I was really grateful to have such intellectual compatibility with someone.
Do you have any long-terms plans?
When I came to Breakthrough, I wasn't even interested in energy. But throughout the course of the fellowship, I came to feel like I was doing the most important, most relevant work I could possibly be doing. I don't know if I'll continue working on energy or not, but I do know that it's THE issue of my generation.