Featuring Carbon Alamanac Contributors Andrea Morris, David Robinson, Felice Della Gatta
From sunny Portugal and The United States, these collaborators have backgrounds in creative services for clean energy, graphic design, and freelance copywriting and marketing.
If you hold the book in your hand you will see the magic they helped make. The three came together (with a team of 10-12!) to design and produce the layout spreads for the Carbon Alamanac.
In this episode, we talk about how encouragement from leadership helped the team push through hurdles, process changes, favourite spreads, how we feel about the climate crises and what's changed for us and then how to take this energy forward - and create something meaningful after the almanac.
For more information on the project, and to pre-order your copy visit thecarbonalmanac.org
This podcast is a part of the Carbon Almanac Podcast Network.
Production Team: Jennifer Myers Chua, Sam Schuffenecker, Leekei Tang, Tania Marien, Barbara Orsi
Cover Art: Ray Ong
Copyright © 2022 The Carbon Almanac Network
About the Carbon Almanac Collective: What happens when regular people work together to create massive, meaningful change on a global scale? Welcome to the carbon Almanac collective. A podcast where the volunteers who created the Carbon Almanac share the insights and aha moments they had while collaborating on this landmark project to help fight the climate crisis.
Hosted by Jennifer Myers Chua, and featuring the voices of Carbon Almanac Contributors. Reminding you that it's not too late to join in on the conversation.
[00:00:51] David: I'm David Robinson. I'm in Charlottesville, Virginia US central Virginia. Right up along the blue Ridge mountains. And by trade. Graphic designer, web designer, branding specialist in the clean energy sector.[:
I've been helping designing the book itself. So creating the style guide and laying out the beaches and bring all the work from all the amazing designers that have been involved together into the final file with, the colleagues there on this call today.[:
[00:01:50] Felice: And since we wrapped up that big project, then we got to the milestone of sending the book to print. Um, I've been poking around the forum, trying to help here and there with my skills. I haven't settled into a position yet, but it's nice to feel that you have the opportunity that you can get involved into all the many things that are going on at the boards. And there are many, like it's almost overwhelming.[:
So being able to contribute to the design, the production aspects. How do you get as Felice said, how do you take all the great designs from a bunch of designers and turn it into a single design of the book? So that was an interesting challenge, design wise and logistic wise, and also glad to have the help of Felice and Andrea to manage things. It took more than one brain for sure, to, to pull it together.[:
[00:02:53] David: We were building the book in spreads, so a left page on the right page. And on one page, there was information in article about chocolate and the carbon impact of chocolate. And somebody mentioned putting peanut butter on the other page. And then there were jokes ensuing about being a great spread between that peanut butter and chocolate.[:
[00:03:17] Felice: You remembered oh wow that's crazy[:
They both owned up to their part of the error. And then they just very kindly figured out what needed to be done and what was the correct answer and how to move forward. And that struck me so hard because you just do not see people interact this way on a regular basis. And to me, that was like a microcosm experience of the entire Carbon Almanac project. How everyone treats each other so well.[:
[00:04:20] Felice: Well, I will say has been a rollercoaster from the start. Even just finding your place in a process with so many moving parts and you have to let go of ego and then you keep on asking yourself, am I doing enough or should I be doing more? So that has been a rollercoaster.
Most of the time an emotional moment. This, this came up in various conversation. So, Andrea and David probably already heard this, but for me, I was just, my mind was blown away when I saw the book coming together. Because until that moment, everybody trusted that in the end it would work. But this never happened before, probably in the history of bookmaking that editorial design and, and all that.
So seeing that in the end, it converged into something that was, that worked and looked beautiful and was a complete that really? Yeah. That was an emotional moment for me.[:
[00:05:15] David: Say that's not encouraged as it has been general role.[:
[00:05:31] David: I do remember the the three of us putting together the book, this was early on, in talking about content and page layout and wondering how much space we had for each article. And, in a standard design project, we get the content from the client.
First, we find out what they have to offer, and then we start to lay it out, put it together. But in this case it was opposite. And we all agreed. This was the worst possible client we could have as far as our workflow goes. And then they were really just pushing us they, the collective, entity, just required us to work this way.
So we made it through, but it was, that was comical to try to do everything backwards that we had learned as professionals. But I couldn't be more proud of the results. It really did come together. It tickled me to see that happen. It was a leap of faith, I think, but thanks to some sturdy leadership, and goal setting, and a lot of encouragement from some folks that mattered. We were able to pull it together and not pull our hair out too much.[:
[00:06:37] Andrea: Oh, gosh. Yes.[:
[00:06:43] Andrea: There were a couple of times when we thought we were on a certain process and then something got flipped and or something got out of order and that had a massive cascading effect, which usually meant that either duplicate work was being done or we were using charts that weren't going to be in the book, or we were looking for charts that were never going to be designed all these different things that happened on several occasions.
And that was always challenging because then you had to kind of reverse engineer or back everything up and pick a place to start and then get agreement on where to start again, and then you could proceed. So it was definitely frustrating in the moment, but it was also a very good experience to witness because it was just another one of those examples about, of how everyone had faith that the other people were doing their very best, even if there was some kind of mix up somewhere along the line, everyone was doing their best in the moment. And so as long as you can trust that you can keep going forward and you can continue trusting.[:
[00:08:13] David: I jumped in like everybody jumped in cold and tried to figure out what to do, what was going on And I joined a few groups and saw some conversations and I believe it was Seth who mentioned an index and does anyone know I had to do an index? So I said, yes.
And then I realized quickly, you don't just say yes, he actually just go ahead and do the thing. So I just went ahead and built an index because that's the next thing I say. Yes. And then he says, okay, where is it? Or go ahead and do it. So rather than wait for that step, I just went ahead and did it.
And did that a few times. And. Became a way to, Seth started saying, thank you for leading. And I'm like, what do you mean leading? I'm just doing a thing, but it turns out that's what leadership is, having an idea and then doing it and then helping other people to help you to get it done so that was simple in a sense to be able to do that.
But I was really impressed with the this organization, how Seth set it up and Louise and the, the people that really founded the organization to start with, they set it up as a true meritocracy. Like you said, no one came in with a title and anything that got done, it was because. Else air quote promotions here, but you know, any promotions that happened were because people were doing things and it was just based on, on merit.
Then the three of us did a lot. We had ideas, we contributed it and then we followed up and made the things happen.[:
I knew whatever, every word, everything was going around everywhere. And I knew where there was a need. And so I jumped in and yeah, I found myself among this amazing group of people doing your work, the work, like putting the work, putting the book to. But, and, and now I feel like to community, I belong to the community and I have friends here and there but again, a lot of it for the way I made personally it's because I'm here from the start and the group was very small and it was easy to be heard and to find your place then.[:
[00:10:46] Felice: Well, you know, and it's not just any community, like the people that are getting involved. I like, I can never dream in my whole life to be mixed up with the caliber of people that I entered the project. And so, yeah, for me, it's a constant fight with the the desire to make a difference and help, and the knowledge that you have a skill set that you can put to use.
And on the other hand the imposter syndrome that probably everybody fought with, like, what am I doing here? Like this may have been an even matter here. Should somebody else take that spot because they get probably going to be better than I could ever do. So, yeah, it's a, it's a struggle. But we do it because it's important. if it wasn't important we wouldn't be here talking about it.[:
[00:11:38] Andrea: I feel like I came in at just the right time, where, so I came in in like early to mid December and I had been lurking a little bit, not volunteering for anything, trying to just figure out what was going on. And I, I think within about a week I noticed, or I think I joined the design group and then somebody asked for x design to be made. I forget what it was just basically a template. So I just said, okay, I'll do that. So I did it. And then from there, I think I just continuously saw the need for different things to be done. So I volunteered to do those things. And then it coincided with when David was going on vacation because David was leading the design at that point.
And maybe Felice as well. I'm actually not quite sure, but, Then David went on vacation and I was like, okay. He says, he's going to be checking his messages, but I know how terrible that is when you're on vacation. Like, you don't want that pressure of seeing a million messages. So I tried to step in there and take that off David at that point.
And then there's always room for more leaders. So I definitely had concerns that I was stepping on David's toes, but at the same time, I also assumed that spreading out the responsibilities would be a good thing for everybody. So I tried to just tell myself no, it's okay.
I'm I might be stepping on David's toes, but also this is probably will come to something good in the end. And then it just kind of came to be that the three of us just led it all together.[:
[00:13:30] Jennifer: And when we're talking about sprints to the finish line. This group went from no book in September, nothing. Just an idea when Felice first got here, to a fully edited, ready to publish book by February. So how does that feel to have been part of that accomplishment.[:
[00:14:15] Jennifer: Felice how do you feel knowing that the book is out there and getting ready to be out in the world?[:
[00:15:10] Andrea: Seeing what can happen when dedicated people come together, that has changed me. I also know that if you're going to take on a project like this, and it can, even if it's something much, much smaller, if you have a group of 10 people, but you want to do some ambitious project it is pretty critical to make sure that everyone is invested, because I think that is what made this work. The people who worked on it were fully invested and nobody was willing to drop the ball anywhere because I think because we wanted to keep each other's respect and each other's trust. I think it made me a more resilient leader because I see that problems can come up, but you just work through it.
It's, it's just the experience of having had, yeah. Having had that experience. Now I know I can do it again and I want to do it again. As I've been sending the link to everybody I know because I am so proud whenever I get to see the book on a website listed anywhere and I'm going to be handing it out like candy come June, because I just want everybody to see the book because I'm so proud of the work that went into it. Also, I think the content is fabulous and truly critical, truly needed. Um,
[00:16:34] David: That's a great question. I don't know where to start. I am just so happy and honored as everyone say to, to have worked with such high caliber people, um, and realizing that it really does matter who you work with and having people of quality with a single focus makes a huge amount of difference.
I've been wanting to do projects and trying in fact, actually doing little things on my own to support climate change, climate awareness and nothing I'm sure will get anywhere close to, to this project. I've put years of, of my own time into things prior to this, but having a group of people working together. And I would say with deadlines, um, I'm a very relaxed person. I don't like deadlines in general, but I I've come to appreciate them a lot more. So having those handy and giving us an anchor point in time to rally around is really helpful. Understanding also that, things sometimes can be good enough to ship without making them perfect. There were a few times when a very respected individual in the team had said it's good enough for him. And I figured, well, if it's good enough for Seth Godin it's gotta be good enough for me. Like how can I actually add any value when the man, the best-selling publisher of 20 books already has said, this is good.
Like it really made no sense for me to continue making something better to what I thought should be done. So learning to just stop and realize something is good enough. It really means it's good enough. It doesn't need to be like the, the perfect quintessential work of art that best designers like to produce, Um, for it to have an effect.
So, so learning, yeah, I would say there's two things, a deadline, and then knowing when to stop and moving onto the next thing that was really part of, I think the really helpful leadership structure and framework that was in place was we've got to stop working on this so we can start working on the next thing, because there were so many things to do. So I really appreciated that extra framework to help get this done.[:
[00:18:53] Felice: Oh, I have, um, a lot I've made a lot of illustrious friends, so, that must mean something. And yeah, and one thing I learned and this latches onto what they just said, like, sometimes it is worth it. And we mentioned this in some and some places in the Almanac too. Sometimes it may be worth it to do things the hard way because doing, doing it the hard way allows certain things to happen.
The Almanac, even though it happened in a very short amount of time, it was done the hard way. It involved hundreds of people. It took hundreds of revision. We went to the last minute that dig in final details and with the pressure of something that needed to go to the public. It was not a small project that you could get any you know, when something goes wrong.
No problem. It's a big endeavor and we did it the hard way because it was necessary because we wanted people to get involved. We wanted to start a movement and just write another book of climate change. And so yeah, do sometimes doing things the slow way, the hard way may be the right thing to do. When you have a good reason.[:
[00:20:27] Andrea: I love Felice's spread that he did with the Maya Angelou poem that I think it was beautifully done. It was so simple, but so striking. I thought that was amazing. I know there are more. But I love, but I, that one always jumps out at me.[:
[00:20:55] David: One thing that did stick out was the amount of energy that Bitcoin uses compared to the entire country of New Zealand. I think it was one and a half new Zealand's worth of energy just for this virtual currency. And that's just Bitcoin. That's not even all of them. That's just that one. And that's just a phenomenal amount of energy. Yeah. To replace something that used to be just made on a piece of paper.[:
[00:22:09] Andrea: I've always considered myself an environmentalist and I'm always doing things to like help the bees or help nature. But this brings climate into focus more for me as like. If I want to help the bees, if I care about preserving nature, climate has to come. First. Climate has to come before most of the other problems that we're looking at, because if we don't fix that, the rest of it doesn't really matter. Or like we, we won't have influence over these other things anymore.
So I think it's switched me more from considering myself. Person who appreciates sustainability or environmentalism to a person who recognizes that climate is one of the biggest problems of our time. And we have to put our energy into that. We have to put almost all of our energy into fixing this.[:
[00:23:26] Andrea: Felice I've always wanted to know how you wound up in Portugal. Like what brought you to Portugal?[:
[00:24:10] David: And I'm mostly curious how, how you all relax. I've seen how you work and it's, it's wonderful. It's focused and concentrated. And, how do you relax and when you're not working that's so I think we need to spend a week together doing that.[:
[00:24:30] David: hi, Portugal's on my list now. It may be destiny.[:
[00:24:40] Jennifer: Working in a group that is spanning nearly 50 countries, or I guess it's up to 90 countries now. This working with people around the world for me has been so fascinating and to hear how even the climate crisis is represented in different countries. Do you have any aha moments about that? Like just this collaborative nature that is spanning the entire globe.[:
So I didn't feel like there were cultural barriers in that sense, because we were, we were focused and we were all here for the same reason. So our microculture well, it was a perfect match and that works really well. And the time zones of course is a little bit of a challenge, but some folks from Felice's is at least in this afternoon here, it's not, you know what 1:00 AM for him. But folks in India of course were burning the midnight oil to meet with us. I really appreciate that their, their dedication.[:
[00:26:33] Jennifer: I always refer to that as the Akimboverse, always say like, oh, well, if you know, if they're in the Akimboverse, then likely we're going to get along just fine.[:
They care about, I mean, they're just respectful people. They they want to contribute more than they take all these great qualities that you find in people who are attracted to Seth and who are willing to give their time to a project like this are basically just willing to give their time to anything. Yeah, you just see that these are good quality people and it's always a really rewarding experience.[:
[00:27:44] David: I'm curious how we can keep the magic going. I know of course the Carbon Almanac network is growing and growing and growing, and I wish I could just do that. There are so many opportunities to pitch in there, which, which are amazing. Unfortunately I still need to work for a living.
So my, the problem I need to solve is how do I earn a living while doing. And some of us are talking about that. How do we work together with this small group of folks to, to support ourselves, to continue earning a living and make that work? Um, so we can continue doing good. things.
I'm only able to do good things because I've had enough good clients to support me that I can take time off to do this type of work, but at some point that that free ride comes to it or the earned ride comes to an end. I don't know what that's a question or an answer, but, um, I'm really looking for that
and that I hoping to, to be able to find some additional magic that we can add on to, and, and continue doing that. So we can support ourselves, our families, as well as the, the mission to support the climate.[:
[00:28:55] Andrea: Well, I think a good question, which ties in, I think the question that would lead to David's answer and the question that I want to ask everybody else is how will you use this energy or this momentum going forward? And I think for me, it remains to be seen, but I I'm definitely on the lookout for smaller scale projects that I can do maybe with my friends.
With my community to basically put this into practice again and do the experiment over like, okay, can I be the central leader this time? Can I be the one who makes the decisions and keeps the project moving forward? It's I think that's way harder. It seems even working in this project. I just want to take this forward and do it again and keep making my own impact on climate change.
And I really always want to know, okay. What are other people planning to do after this project is done?[:
[00:29:58] Andrea: I know, I know.[:
And now I feel kind of guilt for having waited for something to fall into my lap. And now I live with the knowledge that there is something I can do. Like I just did it. So it is a responsibility now to plan so that you keep facilitating towards the direction that you believe is as right.
So once you step, you know, it's a, it's a one-way door once you're in, you're in, and now there is a new found sense of responsibility that you need to live up to. And it's easy. It's not easy, I guess that's just how things go. And I hope it will be a driver for positive change in my life.
Yeah, I definitely feel that way. I just want to, yeah. I just want people to know that and you know, probably this is obvious. It's just, wasn't obvious to me, this is just a one-way door. Once you're on the other side, there is no other way you can go back to the comfort of waiting for something to fall in your lap or just recycling plastics. It's not, it's not enough. And it reading even re read the Carbon Almanac once that's going to happen to you. Like you're going to have to deal with who you are and the way you, you live in this world, it's going to force you to do that. And the closing the book and putting it away. Will it be enough for you to go back to where you were? Probably not.[:
It's very approachable from that sense. So I think that that concept. Of those elements was brilliant. It's a book for every person to read. Really. I think that our target reading level is eighth grade reading level, as Seth said, not because that's where people need to be, but because that's what busy people like you just, you don't want to have to work too hard to digest. I've read some wonderful books that are the concepts are great. the information is great, but it just, it actually takes work to, to digest a sentence or a paragraph it's, it's linguistically difficult, but this book is easy to read from that perspective. So I really, really liked that.
And I feel like. It's just a brilliant piece of work. And I'm just going to say I can't thank Seth Godin enough for this. He's been blogging and he said he started off, he wrote a blog post 15 years ago and he's been wanting to write something about climate change since then. So Felice don't feel bad. About not about that starting sooner.
Um, Yeah, he his ability to pull together, people followers, as Andrea said, is people that read his, his work are, are just, I don't know. Necessarily the people that read his work except you guys, but I take your word for it that they're more inquisitive and more curious, they're more engaged.
And that certainly bore out, in the group of people that we had to work with and his ability to reach out and motivate people or inspire people to join and work with him. Was wonderful and. I doubt that I could do. I don't have a thousand followers on my blog, so his ability to leverage his popularity and to pull together this group was just a wonderful piece.
And then, his Demeanor as both a gentleman and as a true leader was just masterful. He praised people. He didn't praise people too much. I think he was careful about liking too many things. And, if you, if you post, I made, I was disappointed that he didn't like, but I'm like, okay, you can't like everything. But he was just, he was just business. He got to the point, he complimented people when they needed it. And, um, and having Louise I think also being, I want to think of her as our spiritual guide and this year she sort of a much better than a cheerleader, but just somebody that really helped to imbibe our community with spirit and joyfulness and thankfulness.
That was just wonderful too. So every Wednesday we'd be thanking a number of people in the group that we worked with and now they shifted it. So now we do it on Thursdays and it's a really nice thing for building a community. And that just really sets the tone. I've I have not worked.
Any group that is nearly as functional as this, early on Seth, I said, thanks for leading on something. And I just kind of joked back. It's a lot easier than my homeowners association. And it's really true trust try trying to plant some flowers around a tree. And my homeowners association takes three meetings and I'm just doing work here was so much easier and it was appreciated and we just got things done. So if you're listening, Seth, thank you.[:
I think just the empowerment that I feel and it, it truly has been a life-changing experience working on this project. And I think what I want anyone to take away, anyone who might be listening to. Is that you can do the same thing. You can have the same life-changing experience as we all did you just have to take the steps, incremental steps, just keep moving forward. Just do the work.