Why Greenpeace and Wordpress need each other

Greenpeace is about to embark on an exciting digital initiative called Planet 4 — a sea change in how we present our vision and campaigns to our supporters, volunteers and the wider world. Planet 4, or P4 for short, is our name for a next-generation content management system (CMS) and also the process of building it and getting to market. We want to do much more than “manage content” — we would like to redefine it, reshape it and make it much more user-centric where our supporters take center stage and the content reflects them as much as it does Greenpeace.

But “next-generation” isn’t entirely accurate because Planet 4 has a lineage and that lineage is Wordpress. In essence, Planet 4 will be a customized version of the most widely used CMS on the planet with the intent on saving the planet.

Why Wordpress? In spring 2016 Greenpeace polled its community and Wordpress won hands down as the technological underpinning of the future Planet 4. And what’s not to like? It’s free, user friendly and customizable. Tens of thousands of developers worldwide write new plugins and new functionalities. It has an endless library of themes and theme builders to help users design and develop a unique website. The core code is available in every major language. Queues of developers line up every few months to donate their time for the next iteration of the core code. And it has a low technical barrier to entry… so low, even I figured it out.

I started using Wordpress as a hobby in 2008. Over the years, my knowledge increased as to how Wordpress can be applied. I’ve used it professionally on everything from video-centric websites to global community blogs. When you play around with Wordpress for a few years, you will invariably get to know individual developers, themers, UX designers and entrepreneurs, all committed to the platform. This is one inspiring bunch. Attend one of the thousands of Wordcamps and you’ll see what I mean.

Wordpressers believe that code should be available to and improvable by everyone. They believe in common ownership of that code. They believe technology should be powerful, affordable and available to anyone irrespective of financial resources. They believe the right to publish and disseminate information should not be dominated by proprietary platforms. Sound familiar?

Credits: Greenpeace Media

Greenpeacers and Wordpressers have so much in common. We get up every morning with visions of the world as it should be, not as it is. We see a world that should be more equitable, more inclusive and a society with a common purpose. We see a world where forces are arrayed against us but conviction that real change lies with the power of people. Yet there is still a lot we don’t know about each other and it’s time to bridge that gap.

We Greenpeacers have a lot to learn from the community that Wordpress founder Matt Mullenweg has assembled and the true meaning of “open source”. Despite popular belief, Wordpress hasn’t been solely “just a blogging platform” since version 2.7 back in 2007. Today it’s a powerful, versatile CMS. Soon it will become a technology platform sharing content and data in entirely new ways. All because the community defined the direction it should go.

Are you wondering where next to take this platform? Then help us, because we need you. The planet needs you. Unprecedented climate change, historic heat waves, extreme storms, shrinking forests, depleted oceans, food insecurity, mass migration. We think Planet 4 will play a critical role in empowering citizens all over the world to help fix these problems. Will it work? We don’t know, so let’s find out together.

Wordpress developers and the non-profit world have to move beyond tools simply for donations, fundraising and e-mail list building. We’re talking custom engagement content, social networking layers, frictionless shareability, visually immersive storytelling, supporter journeys, lasting connections.

The environmental movement needs a platform where supporters bear witness to crimes against the planet. They need digital tools to bring pressure to bear on governments that are accountable to them. They need a place to meet people who share their values to virtually congregate online, so they can assemble local chapters and local actions offline. They need to tell uplifting stories that travel far and wide and inspire others. They need to know that they’re not alone and this is a battle that can be won.

So will you join us? Jump into the comment stream below and share where you think the project could go. Draft your Medium post for this publication and we will collaborate with you to push it.

Are you a UX expert? Point us to the websites and projects that you think nailed the user experience on Wordpress. Or apply for the user experience designer position and join our team!

Do you write plugins? Why not help our team develop a better way to track volunteer journeys, generate community petitions or make our storytelling more social. Or apply for the PHP developer vacancy!

Concerned about climate change? Migrate your servers to renewable energy, demand it from your hosting providers and suggest it to your clients.

Hosting a Wordcamp? Invite a Greenpeacer or someone from the environmental movement to speak about the specific vision and needs the green movement needs from the Wordpress community.

Help us open-source our movement in a way that Wordpressers know best.


Disclaimer: While we love Wordpress software and its community, Greenpeace has no permanent friends or foes. This article does not constitute an official endorsement of Automattic, the company behind Wordpress.