Margaret “Margin” Zheng

Margaret “Margin” Zheng
Name: Margaret “Margin” Zheng
is a ClimateCultures Author

A philosopher, artist, awakener, and spiritual intellectual, formally studying music and mathematics, informally learning voraciously about our world in transformation, involved in actions promoting climate justice.


I am philosopher, artist, awakener. A spiritual intellectual. Someone who has felt sometimes that they should have been born in a different time, a time when thinkers and creators could work in peace without worrying about ecological and social catastrophe falling upon us. Well, I can’t escape my time, physically or psychologically, so I learn to live in it with integrity – to live by always learning…

I am an undergraduate student at Haverford College in the United States, formally studying music and mathematics, informally learning voraciously about our world in transformation and the ideas and practices that may drive transformation for the better. My motivations for formal study are deeply moral and humanistic: I delve into the abstract realms of classical music and pure maths – so often associated with the cultural elite or the remote genius – so to make art speak to lived experience and spur the social imagination. (And yes mathematics is an art – of relations, of creative interpretations.) Musically I am a pianist and composer (with a DipABRSM in Piano Performance) and am fascinated with both the very old and the very new. Mathematically I am not yet specialized, but I also feel inclined towards a bird’s-eye view and wrestle with ethical and epistemological problems underlying the discipline, its history, and its socially relevant future. I am very interested in the remaking of educational institutions and academic activities to engage the whole human embedded in a changing, ailing world and to teach by mutually learning – to live a better future, today.

I started a hub of Sunrise Movement at my college and have been involved in climate strikes and other actions promoting climate justice. My commitment to activism began in high school when I advocated for increased student agency in learning and in school decision-making, and the common theme of the enfranchisement of young people in both climate and school activism is central to my thinking today. I am open to and curious about many different theories of change, from political lobbying to public protesting to breaking away from institutions to create anew. It’s all an ecosystem of movements, various causes and methods converging towards justice – a goal in itself poly-definitional.

In April 2020 I presented through my college a virtual Zoom concert, “Crisis, Care, Creation: musical reflections on climate change.” The concert was based on Lola Perrin‘s Significantus and invited audience members to participate in breakout groups and share how they are experiencing a world of multilayered crisis (climate change/ecological collapse, the COVID-19 pandemic, the crisis of globalized capitalism) and also to join in a synchronous collective improvisation over the last movement of Perrin’s piece so to symbolize creation of a better future.

I recently participated in the Contemplative Climate Leadership for Youth online course run by Inward Bound Mindfulness Education (iBme), and I am interested in how practices of contemplation and compassion can empower us to make change from within.

My pronouns are they/them/theirs. I break boundaries and seek unities, dancing in the margin.


Margaret’s ClimateCultures posts

In Time: Crisis, Care, Creation

In Time: Crisis, Care, Creation

Artist Margaret "Margin" Zheng felt moved to perform Lola Perrin's work, Significantus, as part of their climate activism, and adapted the piano suite to new conditions when Covid-19 prevented public events, producing a unique concert: Crisis, Care, Creation. Read More