Big news & changes afoot!

Pinch of Dirt one of the "Best Outdoorsy Email Newsletters" according to Outside Magazine

…and we’re back to our usual(ish) programming! I have some big announcements today so buckle up.

But first, I’d like to extend a hearty welcome to my new subscribers!

If you found me because of my Cohos Trail journal, a word of warning: I go on longer hikes at most once a year. The rest of the time, this newsletter is a place for short musings on nature, gardening, the environment, and outdoor adventure, and for sharing the best online writing I can find about the above. (But if you do want to read more trail tales, you can check out my series of Insta posts about the Northville-Placid Trail, starting with this one.)

A post shared by Jessica McKenzie (@jessimckenzi)

If you’re here via Outside Magazine, welcome, welcome! The last 14 issues of Pinch of Dirt were all about a thru-hike of the 170-mile Cohos Trail in New Hampshire. (If that sounds like something you might be interested in, you can find the first dispatch here.)

Readers, if you’re wondering why readers would find the newsletter through Outside Magazine, it’s because Pinch of Dirt was included in a list of “The Best Outdoorsy Email Newsletters”!!!

Erin Berger writes:

As a freelance journalist Jessica McKenzie often covers issues like food security and the environment. Her newsletter is a sort of off-hours platform for related interests: hiking, gardening, appreciating nature. In “Pinch of Dirt,” McKenzie mostly shares meandering thoughts from her travels and reporting notebook, but she’s also an avid reader and includes links that help readers think through the changing politics of being a recreationist. McKenzie considers topics such as how to grapple with climate change as an outdoors lover, or her discomfort with misanthropic coverage of overcrowding at parks. Her tips on urban hiking in New York City are handy, too.

I’m screaming, crazy, delighted by this. Berger describes Pinch of Dirt better than I can, and it’s so gratifying to be recognized for this project I’ve been plugging away at for 4.5 years.

And that’s just the first piece of big news I have to share. The second is that I’m starting a new job(!) at the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists(!) as an associate editor overseeing climate change coverage(!). The official news announcement is here.

You might know the Bulletin as the organization behind the Doomsday Clock, and for their coverage of nukes. However, the Bulletin has also been on top of the climate crisis, long before the ~mainstream media~ was calling it a crisis. This 2020 article by Tammy Kim for the Columbia Journalism Review explains the Bulletin’s approach to climate change coverage: explicitly and unapologetically existential. If you read Kim’s article, I think you’ll understand why I’m so excited to be joining the Bulletin, and making climate change my full-time beat.

But, this does mean that there will be some changes around these parts. Instead of sending out weekly newsletters, I’m hoping to publish Pinch of Dirt once a month. I will also be discontinuing, or rather, temporarily suspending Pinch of Dirt itineraries1. Maybe they’ll come back in some form at a future time…

What does this mean for subscribers? I will be pausing paid subscriptions until at least the New Year, so no new charges will go through, and annual subscriptions will be automatically extended by 2+ months next year. Hopefully this will give you ample time to adjust your subscriptions, if necessary. (If you are financially able to continue supporting a monthly Pinch of Dirt, great! If your resources might be better spent supporting a different writer/indie publication, I completely understand.) I also need to make sure that I have the time and energy to dedicate to a monthly newsletter. I will send out several reminders if/when I unpause paid subscriptions.

Reading list

If all goes according to plan, I will be back in your inboxes in November! Until then, thanks for reading—


Rachel, I know I owe you an itinerary! I might make an exception and send one out in the next month or two, or send one to you privately..