Environment: Interview with John Romankiewicz of China's Green Beat

China's Green Beat is an effort by “Green brothers” John Romankiewicz, Shane Zhao and Rene Ng to raise awareness about environmental issues in China. The project has developed more than ten short films, complete with bilingual Chinese-English subtitles.

From its inception a year ago, China’s Green Beat has received a fair amount of attention in the international blogosphere. It recently was named one of the best blogs covering China by Danwei.


Green Beat co-founder John Romankiewicz shared some thoughts with Global Voices for our second GV-Enviro interview.

“Green” – one of the three Olympics themes – got a big boost in China during last month's Games. What do you foresee for China's environmental movement now that the Olympics have passed?

At least in Beijing, there's been a big focus on how Beijingers are very happy with the blue sky the Olympics have brought, and many have even proposed keeping the car restrictions in place. But for some people (rich people and migrant workers alike), one effect that the Olympics have had is that people associate car restrictions, factory closings and construction restrictions with “Green Olympics.” They associate this economic restriction that has been put on their economy for over a month with the word “green”, which I think is a very bad thing. On the other hand, the government is making laws which include language like sustainable development (可持续发展) and circular economy (循环经济), which is a sign of good things to come…The Beijing Olympics show that the national government has full dominion in Beijing and areas immediately surrounding; the real test will be if the national government can show growing enforcement power over all provinces and especially rural areas, perhaps through growing ministries such as the Ministry of Environmental Protection and recently-formed National Energy Bureau.

How effective has blogging been for spreading the Green Brothers’ message?

Blogging, and especially video blogging, is a very effective way of getting out the message quickly. Because other blogs and websites can embed our videos into their site, we get so many more eyeballs. The visual content adds so much to the message.They remember our faces, it leaves an impression, because we start off the videos in such a personable way, with simple name introductions….
On the other hand, this kind of online community doesn't replace or come close to the meaningfulness of a physical community, with meetups and face to face interaction. So in the future I think we'd like to continue to create online activities, but begin building our message and network offline as well.

Do you use other social media? If so, which sites?

I also use Current.com for reading news and video journalism. I subscribe to a bunch of RSS feeds relevant to China and the environment from small bloggers to big-wig blogs like Worldchanging and Treehugger as well.Recently I just found about avaaz.org.

What's next for China's Green Beat?

We'd like to expand beyond video content into more articles, resources, and online tools to learn more about the why and how of going green. Also, since [Green brother] Shane is in school in America now, Shane will begin producing videos (with Chinese subtitles) about America's environmental solutions/movement. We hope to breed more cooperation on environmental issues among people in America and China, because we're all in this together (no matter what the current political argument is about who is and isn't responsible for GHG emissions) and we can all contribute.

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