The #ClimateCrisis and Code for America Brigades

Rob Davis
Rob Davis
Jun 7 · 4 min read

Last #CFASummit, there were lots of discussion about Code for America, the Brigades, and where we stand in our tenth of a potential fifty year plan (read Cyd’s piece here). After further discussion and a little back and forth, I think we’ve come to the realization that our timeline is likely even shorter, as the deadline should more aptly be mapped to the 40 year timeline of no-going-back thresholds. The most recent reports from climate scientists show that the 2° C change limit will likely be exceeded by 2040 unless drastic steps are taken.

Enter this year’s CFASummit, and an un-conference topic entitled “Climate Crisis, what is our role?” This isn’t a new question for brigades, but we’ve never really discussed the topic as a larger group. What we’ve learned was that many of us already had personally struggled with a variety of climate topics; connecting with a loved one after a major storm, trying to understand the impact of floods in our neighborhoods, recording hurricane shelter capacity over time, and a variety of others. We realized we needed a catalog, and so the Brigade Climate Crisis Project Master List was formed. If you know of any other projects like these, add it to this master list of climate related projects from around the CfA brigade network.

Brigade members have an intimate relationship with the challenges of regional natural disasters. Whether recovering after a storm or understanding preventative tactics before, CfA brigades are in a unique position to test concepts in their community that could have a direct impact on their very neighbors resiliency.

The un-conference session only lasted an hour, but some key areas were already identified as targets.
1. Incentives — knowing which financial incentives (tax breaks, rebates, grants, etc.) are available for homeowners or businesses via a simple address based map or dashboard would reduce the hesitation of citizens from participating.
2. Alternatives — tell the stories of alternative energy use in your community. Know of any homeowners or businesses going above and beyond to reduce their footprint? Help get the word out so others can be inspired too!
3. Forking Toolkits — groups that work on the above master list of climate projects should see to it that they are reproducible. Code for Miami’s Gregory Johnson has documented the hardware & software used to track floods in a way that other brigades could fork (see github repo), or redeploy if they have the necessary materials. Toolkits could also work in the form of a press or media package. Organize the stories of folks most impacted by the climate crisis most (think low-lying areas or areas with reoccurring seasonal damage). Make these stories accessible via video, website, etc. or act as a press contact intermediary. It could be the difference between a reporter and their story taking a deeper dive or staying on the surface. We always need to dive deeper!
4. Skin in the Game — how do we make folks truly see their lives, and the lives of their children and grandchildren, depend on our action today? Community Pledge agreements or community level actions/organizing that co-creates an agenda or curriculum that holds all parties accountable, elected officials especially.
5. Localized endorsements— Participating independently from CfA as a citizen while still holding CfA/Brigade values as a beacon is essential. Consider involvement in political campaigns (check out RagTag and Tech4Campaigns), support policy like the Green New Deal and/or Candidates with similar bold platforms that support the change we need.

Climate Change is everyone’s challenge. We are finally coming to terms with this. Spaceship earth. There is no plan(et) B after Earth and there is no single policy decision that will solve these problems. No candidate will save us. It will take all of us, in many forms, making it our business to stand up against pollution, mass theft, racism, and short term thinking wherever it exists. To bring your personal experiences with the climate crisis to light will be the difference between us surviving this challenge or not. The brigades are ready to help, are you?

#CfASummit Brigade Group Photo — See y’all in October at Brigade Congress!

Rob Davis

Written by

Rob Davis

media + people. civic tech organizer (@codeforftl)

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