Episode 11

This Episode is Brought To You By The Letter C. (And Generation Carbon)

Featuring Carbon Almanac Contributors Kristy Sharrow, Bruce Clark and Katherine Palmer

Cause…climate…compassion…confidence…COVID....crowd-sourcing…contagious…carbon...create…connection…celebration…cohort...courage. They’re all here in this episode brought to you by the letter C.

Hailing from Detroit, Michigan; Bloomington, Illinois; and Vancouver, British Columbia, these three contributors came to the Carbon Almanac with diverse backgrounds — a writer and editor/marketer, an architectural lighting designer and a farmer. But nobody is defined by just one metier and so it is with this group that stepped up to offer their skills in infographics, content creation and social media. Each took a chance to try something new and found community and even confidence as they did so.

They discuss their inspirations — Seth Godin’s thought leadership and entrepreneurial inspiration; the cohort itself of 2,000 (nearly always cheerful!) volunteers around the world that came together to create the Carbon Almanac and is now disseminating it worldwide, and the resulting connections in new ideas and relationships. They’ve leaned into the compelling work that calls us to care for the planet in its hour of need and learned to rely on one another for support, editing, fleshing out ideas and images, and mastering new technology.

This podcast is a part of the Carbon Almanac Podcast Network.

Production Team: Jennifer Myers Chua, Sam Schuffenecker, Leekei Tang, Tania Marien, Barbara Orsi

Cover Art: Ray Ong

Copyright © 2022 The Carbon Almanac Network

About the Carbon Almanac Collective: What happens when regular people work together to create massive, meaningful change on a global scale? Welcome to the carbon Almanac collective. A podcast where the volunteers who created the Carbon Almanac share the insights and aha moments they had while collaborating on this landmark project to help fight the climate crisis.

Hosted by Jennifer Myers Chua, and featuring the voices of Carbon Almanac Contributors. Reminding you that it's not too late to join in on the conversation.


[00:00:55] Bruce: My name is Bruce Clark. I am from Bloomington, Illinois, and my involvement in the Carbon almanac has been with the area of infographics, and helping be a voice in the data visualization side of things. That's how I met you, Jennifer. And then I've been shifted into the kids Carbon alamanac and joining that conversation as well


[00:01:40] Jennifer: Why did you join the Carbon Almanac project?


It's like, no. And so he explained it to me. I checked it off in the local library, kind of got a taste of, of Seth's style and kind of what he said and have been basically following his words ever since and he makes it very specific and special investment in my life during this season. Um, because I am a budding entrepreneur. And his words in his daily blog have been like medicine to me as I've been developing my own thought process, how I market myself and those kinds of things. And so when I, um, identified, , the blog that was inviting people to give their information into this, this project, I like, man, why not? You know, an opportunity to work with this guy. Cause I've been very impressed by him.


[00:03:30] Katherine: When I got the email to sign up, it was kind of like my gut telling me, like, I need to do this. I wasn't. And when I clicked, whether I would stay or not, but something in me said that I needed to stick with this and see where it went. And I'm very thankful that I did. It's been an amazing journey so far. I came in when the book was already written. So I came in in February, but I mean, the work still to do is, is, uh, not nearly finished yet. So I feel like I came in at a good time.


[00:04:19] Katherine: For me, it's been that my philosophy has changed from what I can do to what we can do. So I've always been a recycler and a vegetarian, and I've never promoted that or put my views on other people. But now I can see how being a part of a big group that all has the same. Philosophy can move us forward, as opposed to me just being by myself. Now we're all of us as one big voice. And I think the group, the Carbon Almanac networks really promoting a shift from individual action to collective action. And I'm really excited about I'm, I'm excited. I found this and the I can, you know, I feel like I've evolved in that way.


[00:05:17] Kristy: There's been a lot surprising for me to be honest. I didn't come into this with a ton of knowledge on climate change. And it was actually something I felt self-conscious about in the beginning. I remember being at our onboarding call and one of the hosts asking another newbie, what they were most passionate about on the topic. And they gave some wonderful answer. And I was sitting there thinking, please don't ask me, please don't ask me because I just didn't even feel informed enough to give a good response.

It wasn't that I didn't care before, I did. And I tried to do my best with the things that I thought mattered, like ,recycling. I just didn't have this like depth of knowledge and I'd never gone out seeking it. And that has changed a lot since being on the project. I think one of the biggest things is that after reading the Almanac, I have this sense of urgency around this that I never felt before or knew that I needed. And it has been honestly, life changing.


As I've sort of sat back and watched, this entire conversation evolve because there's levels of engagement, and I think you can really be pigeonholed within a specific area, but if you just kind of look back at the level of what's happening, everything that Seth has been teaching in all of his books, in all of his workshops and all of his presentations, this project is in many ways, the culmination of what he's been preaching. It's the practice of it. I mean, how do you build a tribe? How do you get buy in? In the power of when you volunteer for something that passion carries you through? You know, so many of those things, and then, having a very non-structural structure that the needs and the demands, of the thing cause people to rise up and to assume positions of leadership.

And I think as a result, you do give your best work and it's an incredible, empowering dynamic that I hope this isn't the only thing that Seth ever does, although this is a pretty fantastic Magnum Opus for an individual's efforts. So for me, beyond the Carbon Almanac, recognizing that it's a tool, I think in some ways the more impressive work isn't what we've produced, um, as a, as an artifact, but what we've produced as far as a community and a culture that's activated in a way that I don't think any of us ever could have been, before.


[00:09:40] Kristy: I love the idea of it. I mean, there are. Absolutely wonderful, brilliant people on this project. Similar to Katherine, I feel like I joined a little later at the tail end of the book. So I feel like I'm still developing relationships, but I've been really part of the reason that I've been so grateful to work on. This is truly because of the people that I'm getting to work with and learn from.


[00:10:51] Jennifer: When I did get the blog yesterday delivered into my inbox, I did give you a little virtual high five. So congratulations, Bruce!


[00:10:59] Jennifer: And what Seth was talking about in that blog post was the kids guide and all of the work that the kid's team has done has just been so inspiring to me. And as a mother with the child, She likes to call herself the kid art director, Paige has been nice enough to give her that title. I don't know how much she really contributed. What kind of impact do you think the kids' guide is going to have in the immediate term? And what kind of impact do you think you might have created in the long-term when it comes to kids and parents and that conversation?


This is what's happening. These are things that you can do as a kid. One big thing, teach your adults because adults don't know everything. And I love that the book empowers kids to. Actually feel like they can have a chance to. Um, be powerful here. They're the ones that are going to own the future, it's theirs and they're the ones that I, I think you're going to solve, solve this problem for us. So we are giving them something to work with now. And I, I know like just looking at some of the kids who have made some big strides, like Gretta Thunberg is one, that always comes to mind, but there are, there are so many others. Um, Autumn Peltier here in Canada, who has from a very young age, stood up to adults for, not doing everything that we should have done. These kids are gonna, gonna to own this in the future and, and having a resource to get them started. I think is powerful. Absolutely.


[00:14:23] Kristy: I love everything that was just said, we worked so hard on this content and we've really worked from the start to try to empower the kids who read this content. I think that's our greatest hope is that, that it does.


[00:15:01] Kristy: Gosh. Well, thank you for saying that. My greatest hope in the work that we're doing right now is that it empowers the kids who are receiving that content, whether it's the kids reading the ebook or listening to the podcast. Katherine, you talked about eco anxiety. I know that even me as an adult, I felt that, and especially after becoming more informed on this project and the thing that. Helps me to feel better is knowing that I'm taking the actions that I can and trying in the way that I can. And I hope that that's helpful for the kids as well, because there are a lot of ways that we're trying to offer to them that they can understand that they can help, and they do have a voice. And I just hope that it's helpful and empowering and inspiring for them.


[00:16:05] Bruce: There was a, uh, a call, I think Paige had put out a call to say, Hey, let's come up with a name for this, rather than the kid's version of the Carbon Almanac. That's, that's kind of clunky. And so one morning, I'm like, okay, let me just sit down and see what I come up.

And so I was noodling around with a bunch of different alliterative pieces. And when I was really hoping for would be the green guardians guide. Um, but, uh, my kids liked it and, and, and, and I'd liked how they, they, they polled some of our kids. I know Jennifer, your daughter was involved in some of that. I made sure that I read the whole list down to all of my kids and got their feedback too. And what was interesting is one person, I think, I can't remember who, had made a comment about, I'm not so sure about Generation Carbon. And so then I explained why I felt that was an interesting and maybe compelling one at least to consider.

And I hadn't even thought, like I'm going to really champion this, but, left it out there with an understanding that whether you like it or not the next generation, because of how close we are to the tipping point, they are going to be affected and confronted by a new reality that we are. Are not willing to fully own. And so, I continue in my own place of talking with my kids very openly about the realities of what's ahead of us. I'm also understanding that there's, there's kind of a dual motivation where on one hand, we want to stop it before it happens. But on the other hand, we also want to do everything we can to build a more resilient community. So that if, and when things happen and things move in a direction that may not be advantageous to our, our ideal survival on the planet ideal conditions that we can have enough resilience within our community to, adapt and to move on, with whatever we encounter.

So that generation and subsequent generations are going to be marked significantly by that. And I loved how, when Seth was identifying generation C that a, the whole COVID thing. I hadn't thought about that before. Like, your entire way of experiencing schooling is disrupted significantly. My son just had a band concert and the band director said that the last time that we were able to gather as a band was when the seniors were in eighth grade.

Now imagine like your entire high school experience disrupted like that to such a high degree. Um, that's your identity so much when you're a kid. And so, when those things percolate and, and grow, you, you start to realize, man, this is really profound. And I think, people need something that they can rally around and find common identity with. Just like we did in identifying ourselves by that wonderful little symbol the atomic graphic of, of Carbon. You need a compelling motivation and a compelling reason for people to give of themselves sacrificially towards a cause and what better cause than, um, any and every effort that we can give towards the preservation of our planet.


[00:19:40] Bruce: Yeah. He was even in his blog he was saying connection, he was saying cohort. He was saying courage. He was saying change. All of those things I think can really roll into it in a very impactful way. Jennifer, you mentioned just how many countries are represented by this singular effort. And that just continues to astound me. The level of connectedness is also incredibly encouraging knowing that the work was ongoing and so many different hands because of the ubiquitous nature of, of the technology that we've been given, that we can all contribute in our own ways, through a common platform that we all have access to. I think that's such a tremendous tool that's used in all the right ways when those same tools and in unfortunate circumstances are being used to create more division and separation. This is a tool that's really enhancing the connectedness and our capacity to really deliver something. That's amazing.

Like I've never, ever heard of a book that was crowdsourced in the way that, that what we're producing is is so that's just to say, yeah, I was a part of that awesome thing. That's that's so cool.


[00:21:13] Katherine: Absolutely climate, but that kind of goes without saying. But for me, the collaboration. Being able to work with this group where someone can just say, I need something and you have 20 people volunteering immediately without asking questions without putting anything onto it. They'll just say, here, I'm here for you. And then they're there for you, you know, it's going to get done. So for me, that's amazing because I've never worked with people before. That there hasn't been some kind of ulterior motive. Financially or they want recognition or, I mean, we aren't even putting our names on it, but for example, individual articles, I've written my name's not on it.

The other one is compassion.:

[00:22:46] Jennifer: Compassion is a good, C that's a good one.


And there is never a hesitation in any corner of this project. So, Jennifer, I know whenever you have something within the podcast world, you are continuously saying, does anyone want to help? By the way, you don't need any experience in podcasting to take this on and. That's been in so many areas. And the other day on a call Seth, he said something about every page of this Almanac was terrible until it wasn't. So basically it's this idea that even if you don't have experience in something, you can take it on and you've got this whole community around you to help you. So whatever you do produce is only going to get better as everybody chips in and helps to build on whatever you've created. Create that's another C!


[00:24:21] Bruce: I've had chance to think about it reflect. The first one that came to my mind, um, that's similar to collaboration is contribution. And I think that those that have risen in, in positions of influence to kind of oversee and coordinate things, um, are those that are contributing. What's interesting. I'm kind of doing a little throwback outside of the children's Almanac too. When I was surveying the land of opportunities like, oh, do I want to do graphics. And I was like, yeah, no, I mean, not graphics, but like, graphs and charts and things like that. It's like, you know what those people, can just nerd out on that all day long.

That's fine. I do enjoy a good graph, but like, that's the next level I just don't want to go to. Um, but like when I kind of settled into infographics, Jennifer, maybe this is your experience. Maybe not. I kind of felt like it was a game of hungry, hungry hippos. And I would just go through the whole list of infographics that like a Jennifer's like infographics needed.

I'm like, Ooh, I like to do that. Like, oh, I click on it. Yep. Boon's got that one. Oh, Boon's got that one. Oh, Boone's got that one. Like, okay, here's one, please. Can I put my name on this one? And then I take so long because I'm so, uh, like overwhelmed with like wanting my one contribution to be so perfect. I just missed the deadline and somebody else took it over and it didn't get to deliver it.

But I finally got my name on a couple of them, which was great, you know, and I was like, oh, wonderful. But out of that, the notion of contribution for me, and I think you all would agree has shifted where I think we put so much weight on ourselves as a contributor um, that, that the contribution includes delivery of something. But I felt just as much of a contributor in someone else's work because I was willing to voice my opinion on the matter, or like, this is reading to me this way. Maybe if you make this suggested change or that suggested change and what emerged is something that's fantastic. I know. Um, in a previous podcast, Jennifer, you mentioned that, what, what can we do with, was one kilogram of carbon by us. Like Because when you read the thread, you recognize that there's 200 comments that are seeing the evolution of this graphic piece come into maturity because people are willing to contribute their perspective on it, even though one person is ultimately getting the credit.

I feel just as much a part of that result, as the person who's clearly identified with it because of the contributions I made that you see evidenced in its execution. And only I know that, and only people that were part of the conversation know that, and I think that's enough. So that's one and then it's right along with that is this notion of celebration, you know, when they do these recognitions and like you get a shout out.

And people are, are glowing with genuine praise for one another and genuine accolades. That notion of celebration is definitely, oh, another one! Contagious. And so I like that. Um, the last thing I would say is also capacity, that the nature of how this project works. Is it naturally, uh, level sets to whatever capacity you can contribute.

So if I can give a lot, there's capacity within the space for me to do so, and if I can only give a little, then there's also capacity for that. So that way I don't feel as though I'm short changed or I'm short changing the process.


[00:28:01] Katherine: How I talk about climate change now. I'm far more comfortable sharing the facts that these things that I know are true now that scientists have pretty much proven. Whereas before my arguments were always peppered with opinion and quite strong opinions of how I think things should be and what people should do.

And I think people are listening to me more now because I'm not just trying to push my opinion on them about, you know, you need to stop driving your car because it's admitting all these greenhouse gases. This is now I can tell them, this is what happens when you know these greenhouse gases go into the air. And this is why. Uh, we're in this mess. We're in, because You know, all of these things, these proven things are happening in our planet and people are listening more.


And to be completely honest, I didn't really understand the analogy right away, especially being a climate newbie, but I went away and did some research and I learned that. When we, and hopefully I'm not getting into too much detail here, but when we hold our breath, Carbon dioxide builds up and it's uncomfortable for us and it's unhealthy for us.

And that's why we have this impulse to breathe. So when we pop back above the water, our mouth's open even before we think about it, because we were designed to get that air. Similarly in the planet, Carbon dioxide, building up it's uncomfortable, it's struggling. It's unhealthy for the planet. So I did the research, wrote the article, kind of set it aside, thought it was a cool analogy, but didn't really think of it further. Until a few weeks later when I took my five-year-old to swim class and I saw them learning how to hold their breath and go under water. And I saw what a struggle it was for all of them. To be completely honest. It was uncomfortable to watch. There were kids that were scared to try it. There were many kids that were popping up above the water and coughing because they'd taken in water. It just was such a struggle. And in that moment I felt such empathy for our planet. And I started looking at this whole thing in a completely different light. And I imagine if any of the other parents looked my way in that moment, they were probably thinking what's with the sad mom wall, because it was such a somber moment, but it was something that really fueled this new passion for me around this, this new urgency around it. And it really did change the way that I'm looking at things.


[00:31:06] Bruce: Those are, there's a beautiful sentiments and, uh, really appreciate that all of this, like sometimes esoteric knowledge like, oh, climate is like way out there. It's overly complex. No one of us can really understand any one thing of it and just to create climate models. Uh, you need supercomputing power just to, to identify even all the variables, let alone my human brain. But I think it's those visceral, biographical experiences that we have, that, that brings that truth into our hearts that really does the activation to like make us that much more aware and our eyes are open and we're like, okay, wait.

Stewardship of this planet. Isn't just a nice idea. It's, it's an absolute intrinsic part of us being humans. For me, I feel emboldened, knowing that, um, I've made it a legitimate contribution to something that I can then reference. And so Christmas is going to be easy for me this year. Like everybody's getting the copy, uh, of this book and I'm going to talk to all of my educator friends. I've got a friend that does four H club coordination and, STEM curriculum stuff. And so I was like, Hey, you know, this, see how this can be integrated so that we can start that, that empowering journeys. From that standpoint, I'm excited knowing that there's more agency for me as an individual, then I would have given myself credit to have before. But as far as like my, my mind made up about this being a big deal, it's always been there, but I think, maybe you can relate to this. There's there's a sense sometimes. Uh, depression, just kinda like, ah, you know, I'm doing my part, but man, it just seems like everybody has got their pedal to the floor of the car going in the wrong direction. And you're like, all right, I'll just keep on doing my thing. But knowing that this has the potential to galvanize a community towards truly implementing change by degrees. Um, that's encouraging.


I hope it never ends, but when we all wrap here, is there anything that you're going to take forward I just want to know what the future looks like for you in terms of mobilization.


And so I want to take what I've learned in the Almanac, all the different pieces. Like now I'm learning how to work in podcasting and how to do social media more effectively. And so I want to take that and help other small businesses so that, you know, people can really start voting with their dollars and, and really start, making their money say something good.


[00:35:34] Kristy: know, I'm not sure yet. I know that I will carry what I've learned with me along with this newfound passion around all of this, but I'm not sure exactly what that means yet.


How do we package this tool in a way that can be implementable? And so for me, my action steps will probably be just to continue to tune into this network and watch how the people that, that have the energy and the drive to carry this message forward like yourself, Jennifer, and having the drip cycle of, Hey, let's keep talking about this in a podcast and get it out there into all those different podcast platforms. Keeps that thing moving and growing and going. And then I'd be, I'll be, within my own local sphere and whatever potential conversations I have with individuals. I now have a more activated point of reference. That can be used to make decisions.


[00:38:17] Bruce: It really begins once that thing or even now, I mean, it's, it, it really begins once that thing is in our hands. And, uh, you know, use that hammer. Don't beat people over the heads, just craft something beautiful and draw people into that space.


[00:38:52] Katherine: I would love to give a shoutout to just about every single person I've worked with because everyone just steps up so amazingly. I, I never have to worry about, we have this thing that needs doing, will it get done? It of course always gets done and everybody always happy, happy. Every, every. Meeting I've ever been to. People are happy, whether they're, you know, staying up until two in the morning to be able to attend or getting up at six or, or it's the middle of their busy day. People are there and they're happy to be there. And they're cheerful is just so nice. I wish every workplace could be like the Almanac is.

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Carbon Almanac

When it comes to the climate, we don’t need more marketing or anxiety. We need established facts and a plan for collective action.

The climate is the fundamental issue of our time, and now we face a critical decision. Whether to be optimistic or fatalistic, whether to profess skepticism or to take action. Yet it seems we can barely agree on what is really going on, let alone what needs to be done. We urgently need facts, not opinions. Insights, not statistics. And a shift from thinking about climate change as a “me” problem to a “we” problem.

The Carbon Almanac is a once-in-a-lifetime collaboration between hundreds of writers, researchers, thinkers, and illustrators that focuses on what we know, what has come before, and what might happen next. Drawing on over 1,000 data points, the book uses cartoons, quotes, illustrations, tables, histories, and articles to lay out carbon’s impact on our food system, ocean acidity, agriculture, energy, biodiversity, extreme weather events, the economy, human health, and best and worst-case scenarios. Visually engaging and built to share, The Carbon Almanac is the definitive source for facts and the basis for a global movement to fight climate change.

This isn’t what the oil companies, marketers, activists, or politicians want you to believe. This is what’s really happening, right now. Our planet is in trouble, and no one concerned group, corporation, country, or hemisphere can address this on its own. Self-interest only increases the problem. We are in this together. And it’s not too late to for concerted, collective action for change.