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:

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 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:

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