On October 11th 2008, Global Voices Environment, Carbon Smart and Urban Sprout organized a meetup for environment bloggers in Capetown South Africa. What follows is a rundown of what was discussed.
Blogging about the environment is a multi-faceted endeavor, because it is such a broad topic. This was reflected in the concerns brought to the table by bloggers, and when you visit their blogs, you will see that each of them writes about the environment with a different style, and that they have varying concerns. From Green building techniques and green-tech on Carbon Smart, to reviews of eateries and films on Relax with Dax…The South African bloggers have passion for the environment and are part of the ‘green movement’ happening world wide. The question I was asked was, how come the bloggers in South Africa are the most active African writing about the environment? Part of the reason is the digital divide. The internet penetration rate in South Africa is relatively higher compared to other Sub Saharan countries. We have not seen more ‘green bloggers’ emerge in other parts of Africa in as big a way as they have in South Africa (particularly Cape town) I am no social scientist, but I do hope that as internet penetration rates increase in Africa, that we have more people writing about issues relating to the environment.
We discussed the business of blogging briefly, particularly whether to accept advertising on your site, particularly whether you can do this effectively without compromising your ‘voice’. For example if you do not condone the actions of a multinational company, yet when you have google ads, their ad could appear on your site. How do you manage that effectively? This remained an open question, though Wanda of UrbanSprout suggested having control over which ads can appear on your site with whichever method of ad service you pick.
Another issue was brought up by Rafaela of greenflavour, about using blogs for environmental activism. The resulting actions such as cease and desist letters from companies that try to sue you for stating an opinion. I did mention Eff.org as a resource, and checking the Berkman Center for Internet and Society on guidance in terms of law and free speech online.
Rory of Carbonsmart challenged all of us that we need to show transformation, to show that the environmental movement is happening, and that people are thinking about their impact on the environment and doing something about it. To this end, Rory has began a mapping project called ‘Greening Africa’. The map was mentioned on an earlier post on GV enviro.
Glen of Urbansprout is considering creating a map of the information contained in the exhaustive directory of green businesses. He and Wanda created the directory from scratch and it is currently part of the Urbansprout site. It is a good resource for the many football fans flocking to South Africa in 2010 for the the world cup. Do bookmark Greenstay.co.za, as he gets this project together.
There were so many other great conversations, but the consensus was that this was the first of many such gatherings for bloggers who share a concern for the environment to meet, exchange ideas and collaborate on various initiatives. I would like to thank each and every one of the bloggers who attended. I hope that this is but the beginning of many more meetups. I left encouraged, and inspired by the environment bloggers of the Mother City.
Links to their blogs are listed here (in no particular order).
Rory Carbon Smart
Cecile Dream in Green
Candice Aspirant Locavore
Raffaella Green Flavour
Tracy Capetown Oracle and EcoStreet
The wiki is available for future meetups and as always if there is a blogger interested in joining the Global voices team for enviro-bloggers, please comment.
Pictures of Capetown are posted on the flickr set ‘I love Capetown’. Thanks again to the enviro-bloggers in South Africa for their time and for their hospitality.