Refreshing The Phoenix's discussion topics
OK. So here's the thing. The Phoenix has always been super ambitious — in the year 2023, after working at the edge of public-facing climate communication for the entire 20 years of my career, I can't imagine any other way. It says it right here at the top of my manifesto:
Here at The Phoenix, I’m focused most closely on humanizing this planetary emergency: being transparent about the challenges we’re facing and the complex emotions we’re all feeling, and being honest about what we need to do to radically transform our society.
In a planet-wide emergency where our task is nothing less than to remake everything — even as far down as the hundreds-of-years-in-the-making roots of this crisis in patriarchy, capitalism, and racial inequality — there will always be more work to do than any of us can do on our own.
All that being said, for the past two years (and definitely for the past six months) things have gotten a little out of control for me. Since I started Currently (the parent org of The Phoenix) exactly two years ago, I've raised more than $1,000,000 to fund the growth of a global weather service for the climate emergency. At our peak, we employed more than 75 people full- or part-time in at least six countries, working to deliver daily personalized digital-first weather information that centers the climate emergency and climate justice. I got sucked in to raising money for the larger mission, and my time available for The Phoenix dropped off to almost nothing. We pivoted from newsletters to a personalized weather forecasting text message service to launching our own social media network, and all the while growing our monthly payroll because the work is urgent and it matters.
Last month, Currently hit an inflection point. After the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, we recognized a huge opportunity with connecting our audience with specific ways to decarbonize their lives and save money while doing it, and spent months chasing advertising partners to help us do that work. I didn't anticipate that the green economy would slow down. And I overestimated how long it takes to make deals in the business world. So last month, I had to let a majority of our team go. It was the hardest thing I've ever done in my professional career. The knowledge that my mistakes harmed my coworkers and their families who put their trust in me will haunt me forever.
So, we're back to square one.
Currently is financially healthy now, but much smaller. And I've learned that you can't force a good idea to exist in the world through sheer will and ambition.
So we're going to do this again, a better way.
I'm OK with moving more slowly now, at a sustainable speed, in a way that will hopefully make the work we're doing together more durable.
I'd love to continue what we started last year — with each edition of The Phoenix devoted to a discussion topic that's treated in a way that breaks down below the surface and imagines revolutionary change.
We've done two surveys over the past year that have produced a wealth of ideas, so I don't think we need to do that again. However, I'd love to have input from y'all about whether these still feel right to you. If there's anything you'd like to add to these lists, or if you have any ideas at all about the future path for The Phoenix, please send me a note.
I can't wait to continue this journey with you all. Thanks so much for your support.
On a slightly related note...
Some big news: Currently is transitioning to become an entirely member-funded organization.
We're doing this to boost our organization's prospects for growth and sustainability, and to align more with our founding ethos of becoming an independent weather service for the climate emergency.
Paid members will have a truly premium weather experience. Here's some of what we have planned:
- Text directly with Eric, who will personally answer your weather questions and give you a customized forecast on demand.
- First dibs on our first weather app, which will put your daily weather in the context of climate change, no matter where you are, anywhere in the world.
- Reader-ownership — an experiment in direct democracy so that Currently can remain accountable to our most important stakeholders, you, the readers.
We have SO MANY more exciting features planned, but we can't do this without your direct support. Your paid membership makes Currently possible.
ALL paid members of The Phoenix are also paid members of Currently — you don't have to pay twice! We're still working on getting all our backend systems aligned, so if you have any questions, please email me and I'll personally work to figure things out for you so that you have access to everything.
Community-Centered Action: Register for the Talk Climate Gathering*
Are you looking to build community and deepen shared learning about how climate stories are powerful tools for change? The three-day, virtual Talk Climate Gathering on May 23–25, 2023 is the place for you!
Climate Generation is offering an event to celebrate and connect around the transformational power of climate storytelling. As part of the event, you’ll craft and use your stories to create powerful change in meaningful ways. To do this, the experience will center around “circle jams,” an organized space to gather in community with one another around the idea of using stories to create change in your “spheres of influence” –– the self-selected place in your life where you want to make a difference.
The Talk Climate Gathering will bring together environmental justice leaders, community members from places experiencing climate change impacts, farmers, teachers, healthcare workers, policy organizers, religious leaders, and more. Participants will leave with their own climate story, new connections and community, and resources to continue taking action. Registration is available on a sliding scale: $10–$150.