As part of our Technology Solidarity research series, I was thrilled for the chance to speak with Pyrou Chung, who is Director of the Open Development Initiative (ODI), a project of the East West Management Institute (EWMI). We first connected with Pyrou through a shared interest in Indigenous Data Sovereignty and a commitment to supporting frontline communities to use simple tools they can manage themselves. On a video call with me in Washington DC and Pyrou in her current home in Melbourne, Australia, she shared her own journey and work on natural resource, land and data initiatives in Southeast Asia.

Note: It’s June 2020, and while the Coronavirus Pandemic is disproportionately affecting people of color around the world, here in the United States more and more people are turning their attention to another disease that has also taken far too many lives, but been with us for much longer — the disease of white supremacy.

White supremacy shapes all aspects of our lives, but one area where I don’t see it discussed often enough is in mapping. Over the years, Digital Democracy has worked on a variety of mapping projects, from mapping human rights violations in Southeast Asia to supporting…

I first met Ramesh Srinivasan at a conference in 2018, when we bonded over asking difficult questions during a discussion about supporting frontline environmental defenders. Ramesh is a technologist who grounds his work in human experiences. He has traveled the world to report on innovative ways that local communities are making technology their own. Since our first meeting, I’ve followed his work and writing closely, from his groundbreaking book Whose Global Village? Rethinking how Technology Shapes our World to his most recent book, Beyond the Valley: How Innovators Around the World are Overcoming Inequality and Creating the Technologies of Tomorrow

Digital Democracy turned 10 this year, marking a decade of our work in solidarity with frontline communities, focusing at the intersections of technology, human rights & environmental justice. In this time our work has evolved, our partnerships have grown, and perhaps more than anything, we’ve learned a great deal. This fall, as we commemorate our first decade and look to the future, we’re taking a moment to explore some of what we’ve learned, in conversation with partners, allies, and others working at the intersection of technology and social justice, such as Color Coded, Amazon Frontlines, Alianza Ceibo, Data & Society

CANDEIRAS DO JAMARI, RONDÔNIA, BRAZIL: Aerial view of a large burned area in the state of Rondônia, taken August 23, 2019. (Photo: Victor Moriyama / Greenpeace)

In the past week, news of fires in the Amazon Basin spread through social media threads & news sites, sparking outrage, debate, resignation, denials and more. Maps and satellite images have been shared, but the take-aways haven’t been universal. Is fire a normal occurrence in the Amazon, this year’s blaze overhyped by the media? Are the fires, like melting Arctic Sea Ice, a tragic result of climate change? What are the socio-political factors at play? What’s really happening, what’s at stake, and what is there to be done about it?

As an organization that partners directly with Amazonian indigenous groups…

Last year, I read 40 books. I wrote this post to chronicle why and how I read so many books during a year that was very full, both personally and professionally. In later posts I will share what I read, what I loved, and what I learned from the process.

GoodReads’ Annual Reading Challenge played a big role in my return to books

Prologue: Why I returned to reading

Of all my loves, my love of reading is one of the earliest and most abiding. When I was a child, I devoured books with abandon. In elementary school, I would devote weekends to stacks of book, reading into the late hours in a rush to finish as many as…

This month marks the eight year anniversary of Digital Democracy. When we started in 2008, we had a vision — that new technology tools could be used to serve grassroots movements in innovative ways — and we felt urgently compelled to respond to requests for capacity building and support from the grassroots activists we were working with in Southeast Asia.

2008 was also an election year, and it was the height of economic crisis in the US. When I think back on choosing to start Digital Democracy then, I feel a little grateful for the naiveté of my younger self…

Today I tried so hard to do good work. I really did. But I couldn’t vanquish the demons of distraction. The endless checking of email with no real momentum. The vacuum of social media, Pavlov’s red notification button. It’s not that I don’t have important work to do. I do. The list is long. But I’m scared. Scared of getting it wrong. Scared I won’t get it done. Distracted by so many different words, most of them not mine, coming at me from a zillion directions. Confused by conflicting desires. Uncertain. Unsure.

The smartest thing I did today was leave…

Tomorrow, June 7th, Californians will go to the polls to vote in one of the final primaries of what has been at times exciting, at times infuriating and an all-together unpredictable primary season. I’m not generally one to wear my political preferences on my sleeve, but in this primary we have a real choice, and I haven’t seen my reasons for supporting Senator Sanders fully reflected in media coverage of the race. For my own posterity as much as anything else, this is my attempt to comprehensively outline my own reasons for supporting Bernie. Some will be familiar to anyone…

Workshop Teepees at the Black Hills Unity Concert, August 30 2015.

Where are you from? Who are the people who are indigenous to that land?

I grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana. Despite the state’s name, I didn’t know the answer to the second question until a few weeks ago. After 12 years of public school in Indiana and living close to 2/3 of my life there, I could not name the original inhabitants of a state my family has called home for 3–6 generations on each side.

I am embarrassed by this fact, but I’m not alone. Despite the national myths we tell about the first inhabitants of this beautiful continent…

Emily Jacobi

Stargazer. Pattern weaver. Question asker. ❤ warrior. My day job is to lead @digidem’s work to amplify marginalized voices through tech. My writing is my own.

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