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Podcast host highlights environmental experts

Michael Bartz is motivated to show people how to fight climate change by making changes in their lives.

The Lethbridge man’s podcast In Over My Head taps environmental experts who reveal effective ways to tackle climate change.

“The show is made in southern Alberta, and although the guests are from across the country, I still try to tie in my local roots, staying grounded in the values that many of us hold including a sense of pride in our community, hard work, and a love for nature,” Bartz said in an interview last week.

“I hope Fort Macleod residents can learn something new about reducing their environmental footprint, and feel empowered to join in making our world a better place. It starts in communities, and with individuals. Fort Macleod should be one of those leading the way to a greener future. I would be humbled if I could play a small part in that.”

Bartz, 34, embarked on the journey by reducing his own environmental footprint by building an off-grid tiny house.

Bartz started building the 200 sq. ft. tiny house in 2017 in Lethbridge, and later moved it to a farm where instead of paying rent, he and his partner Sara work as casual farm hands.

It took Bartz four years to build the tiny home, working part-time on it for three years and full-time for one.

Ethan Waldman of The Tiny House Lifestyle TV show has featured Bartz, as has The Wayward Home podcast.

While he was working on the house, Bartz wondered if he was really making a difference with his lifestyle.

Bartz, who has a diploma in acting from the Rosebud School of the Arts, conceived the idea of a podcast and secured a $10,000 StoryHive grant from Telus.

Launched last fall, Bartz’s podcast has explored such topics as the environmental impact of tiny houses and Indigenous understandings of the environment.

Bartz has interviewed politicians about pollution, climate policy and getting involved in change at the local level.

Shannon Frank, executive director of the Oldman Watershed Council, was a guest to share facts and what people can do to protect the resource.

Other topics have included solar power, transportation, electric cars, planes and urban design.

Rain Chen, who founded Get Thrifty, the first thrift store on the University of British Columbia, has also appeared.

“Season three is all about the electricity grid,” Bartz said. “We talk about decarbonization, renewable energy, politics, carbon pricing and more. That will be coming out in March. Future seasons will cover housing, food, clothing, waste, and almost every facet of our daily lives.”

Bartz said he recognizes that some people dismiss podcasts as not being an influential form of media because anyone can create one, and there are so many.

“However, they are this gem of creative expression and unique in that when someone listens to a podcast, it’s a very personal experience,” Bartz said. “Once people discover a podcast they love, they are incredibly loyal since they are often the personal expression of the creator. I hope to gain a loyal audience over the span of the show.”

At present, In Over My Head has listeners in 15 countries, an audience Bartz hopes to grow.

“But I don’t want to capture eyeballs,” Bartz stressed. “I want to capture hearts. So the true measure of success would be if these conversations had a part in shifting people’s attitudes towards climate change, empowering them to do something about it.” 

In Over My Head can be found at www.inovermyheadpodcast.com and wherever podcasts are available.