In Conversation with Leah Thomas
AFROPUNK partnership


Leah Thomas, 'Green Girl Leah', is a writer and activist passionate about wellness, inclusion and the environment. She is the founder of the Intersectional Environmentalist platform and coined the term “intersectional environmentalism”. A Midwest native, she grew up in Florissant, MO before attending college in Southern California and earning a degree in Environmental Science + Policy. Since college, she's written for Kimberly Elise, Vogue, Huffington Post, The Good Trade and her blog greengirlleah.com and currently resides in Carpinteria, California.

What's your current theme song? If you have a reason, please share.
Dreams by Fleetwood Mac, it's such a dreamy bop that helps me get through the hard times. It's easy to dance to and feel like a 70's babe in an instant.

What are you working on?
I’m working on creating the Intersectional Environmentalist platform and dedicating my life to environmental activism.

Tell me about your journey to now. What impactful moments led you to your work?
The unlawful death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO was a turning moment in my life. I lived just 10 minutes away and was home from college on summer break. I was really traumatized by that and when I came back to college just two weeks later in California I couldn't help but think about how I was able to find healing from it all in nature and how I wanted other people, in communities similar to mine, to have the same access to green spaces, nature and clean air/water in order to process complex trauma, inspire creativity, and hopefully somehow prevent injustice. So I changed my major to environmental science and policy and got very interested in environmental justice. So I began writing about environmentalism, wellness, ethical products and social justice which led me to where I am now.

Who and/or what motivates your passion each day?
Growing up my mom told me she had a premonition that I'd be a leader, so all throughout my life she'd plant that seed in me. That motivates me to keep going and also knowing I have this wonderful family that's been through so much, helps me find perspective and keep going. My family is incredibly supportive and so are my friends, and I'm thankful.

How do you define Radical Self Care?
Radical self care to me is falling so in love with yourself that you begin to trust yourself and realize you have all the tools available to cope with whatever comes your way. Developing a self care practice involves a lot of getting to know yourself, honestly, and trusting yourself to be able to draw boundaries so you can be well and do the things you need to do to find peace and joy.

What rituals do you have to help maintain homeostasis of mind, body, and spirit?
I need to move my body! I like working out so I can release energy, it's one of the easiest ways to have an energy transfer and release stress. I also see a therapist, sometimes ones a month or sometimes weekly. Even when I don't feel like I need to, there are just so many benefits to processing with someone who can hold those emotions and help you work through them. It's made me a better friend, family member and partner.

How do you incorporate plants into your well being routine? How is the cannabis (THC, CBD, CBN, etc) a part of your plant ritual?
I love my house plants and outdoor plants, they just make my space feel so alive. I've gotten so emotional about them because they are the most temperamental things! If you overwater they'll wilt, they can be sunburnt, and sometimes they have to be repotted in order to grow. There's so many metaphors that can be found in caring for plants. I've started to use cannabis more regularly in my wellness routine, I'm attempting to grow my own plants at home and the feeling I get when using THC sometimes makes me feel even more connected to my plant-care practice.

Who would you like to experience an altered state (dream elevation + discussion) with and how would you achieve this flow state?
Can it be anyone? No joke I'm torn between Oprah and Stevie Nicks haha. I feel like Oprah and I could geek out about mindfulness, meditation, justice and agriculture. She's gotten so into her garden and planting. I would keep it simple and we'd just hit a very fancy bong. My favorites are from Summerland ceramics.

Love the phrase "slow down to speed up", what does that mean to you personally and within the present global pause?
Wow, I've never felt a phrase more! It's wild how the universe will sometimes force you to pause so you can reflect, even when you don't want to. However, it's so beneficial to really slow down, meditate, and think about what you're feeling before you advance your career, friendships, relationships and so on. The answers become clearer when you can be more present and honest with yourself. Paths become clearer when you pause and think about it, see the issue from all angles instead of just the most obvious. Sometimes we need time even if we're used to a society that says "go go go" all the time and embraces hustle culture. That'll often lead to burn out and isn't healthy.

What is the gift you bring to community?
A lot of my schooling and jobs have been in predominantly white spaces and I want to be a reminder for social justice issues when I'm within that community. It feels exhausting at times, but I want to challenge my peers to think about equity. Even when I'm in white liberal spaces that sometimes ignore race all together, I want to bring inclusivity to the conversation but with compassion. I know these are complex topics for some, but they're so important so I want to help an organization or community begin to self reflect on privilege and be more compassionate to others. After Ferguson, it's almost impossible for me to separate justice from my work. Even if I work at a clothing company, I'll be there in meetings holding people accountable, Kindly, and advocating for unheard voices.

What has been the most challenging for you during this time?
I miss my friends and family, and the ability to see them. Even if I only saw them once every few months at least the option was available but right now it feels a little sad.

What made you become an advocate in the space and for the plant?
I don't work in the cannabis industry, but I've started writing about using cannabis mindfully on The Good Trade and also am exploring writing a book. As someone who previously had all these misconceptions about the plant, I realized I was just buying into stigma and fear. Now that I'm a regular user and I've seen the benefits for my anxiety I've become more passionate about discussing my use and the benefits more openly.