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Learning in the open

This post is part of the Green Web Fellowship. Fellows are exploring the intersection of digital rights and climate justice; and are reflecting honestly on what they learn. More about the fellowship and the fellows.

On the starting blocks with “climate justice”

Dear diary,

So this fantastic thing has happened – I’ve been accepted as a fellow on the first Green Web Foundation Fellowship! I’m chuffed to bits and grateful as hell  🎉 I’ve been doing side-gigs speaking on the topic of digital sustainability and running Green Tech South West for a few years now. And last Feb I founded and ran a campaign with (CAT) called #LetsGreenTheWeb, which aimed to raise awareness amongst web developers about the carbon emissions associated with websites.

Since then, I’ve been keen to carve out more time from my freelance WordPress developer day job to deepen my knowledge of green issues. I also want to explore how to help other technologists, particularly the WordPress community, bring more climate change awareness and sustainability into their work. I think this fellowship is a great opportunity to help me do just that.

So what’s this fellowship all about then? Let’s start from the top. The theme of the fellowship is “to explore how to advance climate justice among internet practitioners”.

My honest reaction when I first heard that was, erm… what is “climate justice”?

I feel very comfortable with terms like carbon emissions, sustainability, climate change, environmentalism, net zero. But “climate justice”? Right now I’m really not sure how relevant this is to technology, nor even if it is my place to get involved in this. I think I’ve heard the term used, but not in relation to tech and definitely not in relation to WordPress, and I can’t really recall the context in which I saw it being talked about.

I think it’s the word “justice” that’s throwing me…

Isn’t that more relevant to legal people in courtrooms? My mind is wandering to the likes of Erin Brockovich building lawsuits against negligent big polluters. Or to the tragic story of Dorothy Stang, a nun who was murdered in 2005 for daring to stand up to illegal deforestation in the Amazon. (She did get some kind of justice by the way. In so much that there were convictions for her murder. But not the right kind of justice, and I would hazard not the justice she gave her life for, because illegal logging is still rife in Brazil.)

So, at these starting blocks, before I educate myself, what I seem to understand by the term “climate justice” is that you are involved in fighting on the frontline for and with others. It’s a social issue intertwined with activism and the environment. That’s my current understanding anyway.

Ok, if that’s the case, what can I do from behind my desk to further climate justice? Afterall I am a technologist, a coder. My power is a keyboard and my ability to solve technical code problems. What’s more, what are the WordPress community collectively going to be able to do with theirs? How could I make a term like climate justice resonate within WordPress? Eek.

Right now, I have more questions than answers about this! I’ve got a lot to educate myself on. But that’s ok, that’s acknowledged as the whole point of this fellowship – to explore and learn in the open. 

What’s next?

I’d better start engaging with this term “climate justice” and exploring what it means. I need to establish a definition I can work with. Will report back when I have more clarity.

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