The Trouble at One Year

A reflection on what we’ve accomplished by our first birthday, and how we can be better going forward.

Photo by  Brett Jordan .

Photo by Brett Jordan.

We launched The Trouble one year ago with one fundamental purpose: to serve the climate movement in its search for coherent and effective strategies. Looking back on our anniversary, we’ve had some successes and failures, and we write here to pull back the curtain for our readers. 

We have worked to provide a forum where old ideas are dissected and new ideas are proposed for anyone who shares a leftist vision of decarbonization: one centered on transferring economic and political power to workers, people of color, indigenous people, and women, and away from corporations and the wealthy.

How do we make progress towards climate justice? To answer this question, we’ve explored all kinds of topics and formats, from profiles of specific organizations to 30,000-foot visions, sweeping views of intersecting issues to practical guides for aspiring unionists. Our writers have argued for creative power-building policies on issues ranging from intellectual property to geoengineering, covered the implications of developments abroad in Germany, the UK, Mexico, and India, and dug into the nuts and bolts of local campaigns. Some pieces have served as warnings against toxic tendencies within our ranks or old foes revived from the past. Others have analyzed discourse and even our own psychologies to explore how we can remain resilient and committed when, at this late hour, there is so much reason for despair. 

Through all this, we’ve received positive feedback—on Twitter, Facebook, via email, and in person. Our articles have been read and shared widely. We’ve been able to fundraise a modest amount without turning to advertisements, and we always pay our writers. With each new author, we’ve opened up avenues to new audiences, and given those with very different roles in the movement an opportunity to understand the way others think about effecting change. Our hope when we started The Trouble was that at least some of our readers would come away better equipped to deal with the political challenges constituted by the climate crisis. From the survey responses we’ve received so far, this thankfully seems to be the case.

In other ways, we’ve fallen short. Frankly, our editorial team and writers are too white—we don’t reflect the diversity of background, experiences, and theories of change of people currently in the climate movement. This shortcoming is owed largely to the fact that we have relied too much on the online article pitch box, which is disproportionately populated by white men. We clearly have not done enough to build strong relationships with writers and organizers of color, whether through active recruitment or general outreach. Therefore, we are committed to ensuring at least half of our content in the coming year features or is written by people of color and women. Aside from rote representation, we also commit to building stronger relationships with smaller EJ groups, working-class POC organizations, and labor unions, all groups we haven’t yet built strong ties with (as opposed to DSA, professional NGOs, and academics, where our ties are stronger). 

Second, not enough organizers have written (or been interviewed) about their own campaigns and unique theories of change. This is where we think the heart of The Trouble’s usefulness lies: ensuring people employing tactics and strategies on the ground can share their experiences with others. While we’re still committed to showcasing the strategic thinking of those deeply involved in actual politics, much more of our content may come in the form of interviews.

We hope this window into our publishing strategy can help remind everyone in the climate movement of the big questions. Am I working to build power? How can I better work towards victory? Is my coalition big and diverse enough? What can I learn from my peers and the past? We can’t be so taken by grand visions and platitudes that we forget the (often harder) work of strategizing and action.

Only by constantly improving our strategies and movement can we win climate justice. We hope you provide feedback and continue reading, but most of all, we hope you stay in the fight. 

In solidarity, 

The Editorial Team

Guess what didn’t fund this article…advertisements! Big corporations! Billionaires! What did fund this article? Just donations from our readers and the odd grant. You could be one of those people funding new essays on the most important issue of our time. And if you already are, thank you!