Iona Conner has been an environmental activist for more than five decades. The birth of her first child 53 years ago catapulted her into the realization that her daily choices had a direct bearing on the health of her son and the well-being of the Earth. She has been an active participant in the movement ever since. As a nurse, Iona watched people dying prematurely of cancer. As an air pollution inspector in the middle of New Jersey, she was inside factories writing violations and bringing corporations to court. As an employee of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Hazardous Waste Management, Iona was a one-woman road show carting slides and posters of hazardous waste sites and a car full of non-toxic products to educate her audiences about the ways in which traditional consumer activities help create toxic dump sites.
As Co-Director of the Grassroots Coalition, Iona traveled with her (now deceased) husband John throughout the Northeast and Midwest for 15 years organizing meetings and presenting programs. They started a worker-owned cooperative with a handful of women who designed and made clothes using organic cotton grown in the U.S. and selling those garments (plus items from other socially responsible companies) in churches and colleges. Then they switched their emphasis to climate change. Their shared vision was to work with people to create a more just and loving world. Currently Iona is devoting her spare time and energy to her climate emergency newspaper, Groundswell News Journal. Its mission is to be a beautiful, inspiring, uplifting newspaper which educates and enlightens people about the climate emergency through scientific articles and stories by and about activists who are working to protect life on Earth and preserve natural resources.