On rituals, mapping data complexity, false summits, and finding the essence of impact
Welcome to the December edition of the Carbon A List newsletter. Do you know someone who would enjoy our newsletter? Send this to them and they can subscribe here.
Around the darkest day of the year it is worth considering rituals. Winter solstice is a great time to slow down, consider what you are letting go and cherish what you have. This time of year is filled with rituals that bring joy and remind us of holiday cheer and things we might do repeatedly. I’ve been using the word ritual a lot too to describe some of the activities at Carbon A List. As a remote team, we create our own rituals around retrospectives, “munch and learns”, and the tools we use. Writing about what happened each year is another good ritual to reflect and plan for the coming year. Here is 2022 in Review for Carbon A List.
On mapping data complexity
In Blake Atkerson’s article Respecting Nature is Respecting Data, we looked at recent COP 27 emphasis on solving the data issue. We highlighted how nature is a complex set of systems and that means the data mapped to those systems is equally complex. Working through the Data Life Cycle and understanding the gaps at each level allows for greater visibility into actions needed to address data gaps. Utilizing standards and protocols are one way to act on those gaps and ensure there is a uniform approach to data identification, collection, cleaning, analysis, and the other elements of the Data Life Cycle.
On false summits
We were excited to share a big piece of work related to the Urban Ecosystem Standard in delivering a draft “standard” but even writing the standard proved to be a false summit. Rick Whitney wrote about False Summits in Climate Impact to relate the work to his experience as a mountaineer. To extend the metaphor, it’s often not even about climbing the peaks rather than changing the perspective that you might not have had. Climbing in a suboptimal way only could help us if we can look back about how we did it and where we arrived. This helps us know which direction we can head from there, being informed from the past trail.
On finding the essence of impact
Nick Goeser was interviewed for Water is the essence of carbon sequestration showing the important link between carbon and water. There is a need to bring water into agronomic decision making. For anyone working on it, they heed Nick’s words that: “bringing farmers into the conversation shifts the dynamics dramatically by bringing awareness and recognition to opportunities and pathways for innovation.” When people’s concerns around water can be heard by the right stakeholders, solutions can flow. I was thrilled to be in a room with Nick and a group of farmers last week in Chicago to be thinking about viable pathways forward.
What we’re working on
- We are preparing for next year’s Partnership for Climate Smart Commodity grant and supporting ourselves and partners to navigate the complexity of grant reporting. We are building tools that will support us in having a second brain.
- Next month at 1 PM MDT on 1/18 we’re hosting an Off the Climate Record Event on How to ensure that data is impactful with two Data Scientists from Arva Intelligence.
What I’m reading
- Modernizing Agriculture Data Infrastructure to Improve Economic and Ecological Outcomes. This report came out in May but has many solid recommendations and implications for pathways forward.
- Cover crops and carbon sequestration: lessons from US studies. tl;dr cover crops sometimes, but not always = more carbon sequestration.
- Principles: Life and Work by Ray Dalio. I learned something about finance reading this, and it’s also an excellent guide for up leveling yourself and your business.
Can you help?
- To better do our work, we’ve been building a second brain. We think it might have value for you too — especially if you are in the land sector and climate impact space. Could you please fill out this form to let us know about your interest? We’ll be in touch next year!
- Carbon A List is in search of a skilled facilitator with a proven track record of facilitating multi-stakeholder workshops. This person would play a key role in developing stakeholder consensus on the current state of science and critical information gaps pertaining to land use change quantification in the U.S. Job description here.
The picture above is from a hike I was on today. Although I’ve been on many hikes with friends who are just men, this was the first time it was a “men’s hike” with the explicit permission of allowing ourselves to be vulnerable with each other with people who before today I only knew as acquaintances. Being vulnerable can be uncomfortable, but is yet such a critical piece to getting the best outcomes. I hope to find places where I can bring this edge to 2023.