Timezone: Europe/Prague (21st Sep 09:10)

Currently is in transit (for 13 hours, 6 minutes, and 4 seconds)

You may know me from..

Last ate 18 hours, 22 minutes, and 47 seconds ago (Pasta with leftover beans and veg in tomato sauce)

Last exercised 2 days, 15 hours, 39 minutes, and 17 seconds ago

Monthly budget 35% used (last spent 335czk on Breakfast (Forrest))

Words written this month (1817 of posts and fiction)

Reflections prompted by #ClimateStrike

Since my day job is part of a workers' co-op, it doesn't make sense to strike against ourselves.

Instead, we're spending time conducting a thorough review of our internal policies (travel and equipment expenses mostly, but also what powers our servers etc) to find and act on areas where we can minimise our environmental impact. We're also looking for ways the co-op as an organisation can take some of the burden from individuals to help make environmentally friendly decisions in day-to-day work and home life. Because it's no one person's individual responsibility* and it is at best unfair, at worst impossible, to expect people to take the weight of the world on top of their immediate concerns; any real change will only happen at organisation, collective, corporate levels. We're a small organisation, but the least we can do are things like:

  • Use our travel policy to discourage unnecessary international travel;
    • encourage remote interactions rather than flying half way around the world for a few-day meeting or workshop;
    • make it okay to say no to clients who ask for this.
  • Use our expenses and flexitime policies to permit people who are willing and able to pay more and take more time to conduct necessary travel by land/sea instead of air.
  • Cater in-person co-op meetings waste-free and meat-free where possible (taking into account our members' dietary needs).
  • Use our expenses and device policies to encourage reuse of and secondhand electronics and homeworking equipment.
  • Collectively plan ahead for events in non-home cities to aggregate information about local transport and food, so members can make better decisions on the fly in an unfamiliar place (essentially reduce the "fuck it, just get a taxi" approach).
  • Use our flexitime, homeworking and leave policies to create a positive and relaxed working environment, encourage work-life balance and space to rest, freeing up mental capacity for conscious living.
  • Use our internal policies to exemplify best practice, and make sure our clients and partner organisations know about this, hopefully spreading a message that they could do similarly.

And besides that, we're a remote organisation, so homeworking or local coworking spaces mean none of us are required to commute, and we don't have to power an office space. We also consider carefully the work we do (things for public good) and who we take money from, and every member of the co-op has equal input in this. Not to mention - we are a co-operative. We provide an alternative to power-hungry, profit-driven, top-down companies beholden to greedy shareholders; our existence is a protest in itself as best we can muster given we still need to function in a capitalist society.

This afternoon we had a meeting, optional, to share our collective trauma over the current state of the world**. Some of us will go out and find our local #ClimateStrike protests to join.

It's small, and seems kind of futile in the grand scheme of things. Why even bother? What difference are fewer than 20 people going to make? It seems like most people are in a complete state of cognitive dissonance, and who can blame them? The best we've got is to scrape together our collective energy - make space for our colleagues to breath and take stock - and do the small things. Nobody is under the illusion that this is going to fix the problem overnight. But at the very least we can spread the message, the intent, the energy to our friends, family, and possibly our clients, who might spread it onwards. I'm trying to write this from a position of hopefulness, rather than my usual semi-apathetic nihilism, and honestly, it's a struggle.

I count myself lucky to have co-workers who are open to talking frankly about these issues and making changes at an organisational level, when many people can't or won't even do that. It's reassuring and even delightful to be able to bring my personal ethical stances to a group without feeling like an annoying nag. For example:

  • I consume vegan only; give money to all-vegan establishments as much as possible.
  • I consume secondhand only; not putting money into exploitative endless consumption and disposal cycles.
  • I don't fly (bar carefully considered special-case big-deal exceptions); go out of my way to plan complicated land and sea routes, often paying more $$ and spending a lot more time to do so.
  • I own one 45L backpack of stuff, and try to take up as little space as possible.

I mostly do these things quietly, for myself. But if it comes up, I can use myself as evidence that living this way is possible, and to encourage other people to try it out even just occasionally to start with. And to offer my now years of experience with inconvenient land travel planning and finding vegan food in veg-hostile places to anyone who needs help.

I'm aware that the fact I travel has a negative environmental impact in itself. In order to be able to do that, I make more extreme tradeoffs for a lot of things to try to offset that. Things I should be doing better:

  • Reducing waste; since I travel it's hard to buy bulk goods and have a large stock of reusable containers, and often difficult to know where or how to recycle things.
  • Consider the impact of what I do consume; coffee, soy, avocados, almonds, packaged vegan junkfood. I try to buy local but I'm not consistent about it yet.
  • Consider where I stay; I avoid hotels and find hostels to be less wasteful and generally more conscious, but I do use AirBnB and other options for private accommodation that I could do to be more picky about.
  • Travel slower, take fewer journeys, stay in one place for longer.

When I fall short I try not to make excuses for myself, but I do sometimes. When I have energy to be, I'm angry at people with privilege and power who make excuses to not even make the smallest of changes to their own lives. I'm angry at people who use other peoples' disadvantages and circumstances as an excuse to not change their own behaviour, or scapegoat those less fortunate than themselves (see: disabled people and plastic straws; food deserts or poverty and particular diets). I'm angry at the society and power structures that make this happen.

But mostly I'm not angry, just dead inside.

Anyway.. counting my blessings, noting my privileges, trying not to bury my head; acknowledging the futility without giving up hope entirely, supporting and being supported by people who feel the same.

* Though there are a few powerful individuals who could make a big difference if they weren't such greedy and/or oblivious assholes, of course.

** In the last minutes of the meeting, it was proposed to make a time-tracker job for "existential crisis" and log hours against that where necessary to see how much it's really costing our business.

🏷 Open Data Services Co-operative apocalypse travel vegan climatestrike coop life environment ods work

🗁Added 111 photos to album Prague, Sept 2019.

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Cafe working and wandering in Prague. A walk up Petrin Hill and around the castle, and sunset from Vitkov Hill.

Food at the Donut Shop, Loving Hut(s), Dhaba Beas, Blue Pig Donuts, Mama Coffee, Vegan City, Blatouch, and a very exciting trip to Vegan World supermarket.

There's a vegan donut shop in Prague less than ten minute walk from where I'm staying. Indecisive, I entered, and asked the guy working there which was his favourite. He said salted caramel, so I asked for that and a matcha one (because who buys one donut at a time anyway?). The pb&j was really calling to me though so I figured what the heck. Then he offered me a wild berry and vanilla for free.

Anyway the thing I love about being a grownup is that nobody can stop me from having donuts for dinner.

Four colourful donuts in a box from above

🏷 cake prague vegan food travel

Hello world, my [temp] phone [that I've been using for a year] got a bad update and I had to factory reset it. I can't set Signal and other messaging apps back up with the Greek number I was using for them, if you have that, because it won't get phone reception outside of Greece.

Relatedly, I haven't had access to the installation of Signal (desktop) that used my UK number for the last month. If you sent me any Signal messages to the UK number in the past month, I have not read them. I thought I'd be able to port it to my new desktop, but the FP1 is now so old Signal won't update on it, so I couldn't.

So if you need my new (Spanish) number for Signal (etc) contact, and I don't send it to you in the next couple of hours, do ping me.

As always, IRC and email are more reliable ways to contact me than anything involving a phone number.

🏷 signal life contact