We had the good fortune of connecting with Britt Duffy Adkins, CEO & Founder of Celestial Citizen, and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Britt, can you talk to us a bit about the social impact of your business?
Celestial Citizen is a space media company with embedded urban planning values. This organization seeks to provide storytelling and opportunities for public participation across a diverse range of media in order to encourage conversation and civil discourse around how to democratize access to space and make space futures more inclusive.
The majority of humanity is getting left out of shaping our future in space, and we are repeating the same mistakes that we’ve made on this planet (settler colonialist attitudes, racism, sexism, ableism, anthropocentrist viewpoints, extractivism, and a general lack of representation). Space is also becoming an increasingly polarizing topic, and the current trajectory of the industry seems to be primarily controlled by wealthy, white men.
Celestial Citizen believes that space and earth problem-solving needs to become more intersectional and transdisciplinary, and our space media needs to reflect those values. Space is awe-inspiring and should bring hope to a society in desperate need – yet the industry has failed to convert a significant portion of the population.
Everyone needs to be able to see themselves using, interacting with, and eventually even living in space. More than that, everyone should have access to the present and future benefits of space technology and space exploration. By leveraging different types of media, Celestial Citizen seeks to engage a broader subset of the population in the rapidly growing space economy. One such example is Celestial Citizen Podcast, which looks to amplify a more diverse set of voices on the topic of space exploration – considering the social, cultural, legal, political, and economic implications of our actions off-Earth. We also have other special projects and short films in development that aim to engage a wider audience in planning the future of space. Celestial Citizen is growing rapidly, and we are fortunate to have a very active and passionate community on social media that interacts with us through Clubhouse conversations, webinars, and other virtual events.
At Celestial Citizen, we wholeheartedly believe that we have not even begun to scratch the surface of understanding what the collective global population believes about the next phase of human civilization as it expands into space, but we are doing our best to change that and make space for everyone.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Celestial Citizen is a unique entity not only because of our values, but also because our company is incredibly transdisciplinary in nature and does not shy away from complex topics. No other space podcast is consistently covering the social and cultural aspects of what life might look like off-Earth. Furthermore, Celestial Citizen Podcast has revealed a massive, untapped market of people who don’t want to be left out of the space race – the unseen and unheard majority. We intend to carry this spirit of disruption across all future projects and media.
At the end of the day, some of my proudest moments have come out of the messages I receive privately from people telling me that they have felt alone, powerless, or even invisible in the space industry, but that the message of Celestial Citizen struck a chord with them and made them feel seen for the first time. The connection that I feel to my fellow Celestial Citizens has been deeply rewarding and has given me an even greater perspective as to the work I have ahead.
Of course, there will always be those that don’t like what Celestial Citizen is all about, that are scared of a shift in power dynamics – that want space to be in their vision and their vision alone. But I wouldn’t be doing a very good job if the premise of this company wasn’t making some people uncomfortable. I believe innovation is actually meant to be deeply uncomfortable – and when that progress comes in the form of building a better future society on Earth and in space, it can be scary to a lot of people. But if you are scared of what a more just future might mean for you personally, then you are likely part of the problem. Celestial Citizen is a place for all people to come together and be a part of the solution.
My personal journey to creating Celestial Citizen was a winding path at times, and certainly not easy as a mother of three (and soon-to-be four) challenging the status quo of a male-dominated industry. I’ve been told to tone down my rhetoric, been told to stay in my lane, and judged for having children, but I have persevered knowing that this work is too important to back down from. Whatever challenges I have faced have only strengthened my resolve for the road ahead.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week-long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I have to give a shoutout here to my home city of Pasadena – between JPL and Caltech, we’re so close to so many great science and STEM events and other sources of inspiration.
You’ll often find me perusing Vroman’s Bookstore for sci-fi classics and a great selection of space literature. I love spending weekends with the kids wandering around Huntington Library and Gardens. I’m also a big fan of Sage Plant-Based Bistro, True Food Kitchen, and Entre Nous. You also can’t beat an ice-cream from Afters.
Outside of Pasadena, I strongly encourage anyone who hasn’t already been to visit Griffith Observatory.
I’m fairly new to LA, so I’ve got a lot more exploring ahead!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Celestial Citizen would not be where it is today without the support and mentorship of Dr. Angel Abbud-Madrid, Director of the Space Resources Program at the Colorado School of Mines, who has provided encouragement from the most nascent stages of this company. Robin McDougal, Founder and CEO of The Pearl Project Institute for Innovation in STEM Literacy, who also runs the Blaze Accelerator for Space Entrepreneurs, has also been a massive source of mentorship for Celestial Citizen as it grows and explores new opportunities. Dr. Jessie Christiansen, Deputy Science Lead at the NASA Exoplanet Archive and Research Scientist at the NASA Exoplanet Science Institute, has been an amazing mentor to me and has encouraged me to never give up in the pursuit of my passions, academic and otherwise. My journey with Jessie actually began back in 2016, before I became a mother, and no matter the direction that life took me, she never gave up on me and always supported my dreams of being in the space industry. I have a great deal of respect for Jessie, and her strong commitment to increasing diversity in STEM and paving the way for many women to follow her impressive footsteps in the field of astrophysics. Katherine Perez, USC Faculty and Cities Leader at ARUP, has also been tremendously influential in shaping the way that I view public participation and civic engagement. Her class at USC remains one of the most memorable and important courses that I have taken throughout my academic career. Lastly, I would like to acknowledge the support of my partner, Kyle Adkins, who has encouraged me to pursue this vision of a more equitable and just space future for all.
Other: Clubhouse: https://clubber.one/@celestialbritt
Sandra Flores Photography