Joycelyn Longdon is the founder of ClimateinColour, an online education platform and community making climate conversations more diverse and accessible. She’s also a postgraduate student at Cambridge looking at the application of AI to Climate Change, with a focus on centering indigenous knowledge into algorithms.
Joycelyn does a fantastic job of translating the complex research and science behind intersectional environmentalism and climate change through easy-to-understand graphics and resources on Instagram and beyond.
Please introduce yourself! Who are you and what are you up to?
Hiya, my name is Joycelyn! I am a 23-year-old postgraduate student at Cambridge looking at the application of AI to Climate Change with a focus on centering indigenous knowledge into algorithms. Right now, I am preparing to go into a meeting with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to talk about the UN's strategy for Environmental Racism.
Tell us about ClimateinColour - how did that start and what was the intention?
I started ClimateInColour in April 2020 when I was accepted into my current course. ClimateInColour is an online education platform and community making climate conversations more diverse and accessible. I believe in knowledge-sharing, and I don't think that information should be locked into academic institutions. I also believe that knowledge is power and that it is important for everyone to have an understanding of the world and systems they live in; the realities of the climate crisis for marginalised communities, and how we all have a role to play in this movement to create change.
The intention has always been and continues to be the creation of high quality, well researched, accessible and beautiful content to inspire, inform, and engage in a nuanced yet hopeful way.
You're doing your PHD in using AI to Climate Change - can you tell us a bit more about that?
Yes, I am currently in my MRes year (it's a sort of integrated program), and my PhD will start in September. I am currently writing my drafts for my proposal/abstract for both the MRes and PhD project. I’m narrowing in on using remote sensing (e.g. satellites) in combination with indigenous knowledge through participatory methods to monitor tropical forests and call for land rights recognition for those communities to whom the forest is home -- and can, therefore, care for it and protect it the best.
Where would you like to see the discourse and conversations around climate change over time?
I wish the discourse could become more nuanced and be more realistic and accepting of the different views people have. I also wish the conversation would become less performative, with people focusing less on how they are the "better" activist, and instead focus on being compassionate. Finally, I wish there was more exploration in imagining the different futures this world could have, rather than one homogenous outlook for a utopian world.
In the long run, I'd like to see conversations around climate change become a thing of the past, something we speak about in past tense, like other horrible moments in history. I hope it’s something we look back on and sigh with relief that it's over, but maybe that won't happen in my lifetime...
How do you see your role within your platform and community? What is your intention for your platform?
People assume that just because you are on social media and care about certain topics that you are an activist. That comes with expectations and connotations that just aren't accurate for me, personally. I love to learn, and I love to share my learnings; but I also love to make art, music and dance. I practice deep spirituality. I love to cook and immerse myself in nature, I love to write, and I love to love. These things all make me who I am; I am not just a climate "activist" or "influencer." I actually don't see myself as those things at all.
ClimateinColour’s role is that of education, and the intention is to make learning about the intersections of climate, race, gender, identity, and class more accessible.
My role as an academic is to influence the changing of systems and, hopefully, influence justice.
My role as a human is to love and cherish this earth as much as I can, and in the ways that are accessible to me, or align with my values and beliefs.
What are three books, articles or podcasts that you'd recommend for people interested in learning more about the climate?- Hope In The Dark - Rebecca Solnit
- Woman On The Edge Of Time - Marge Piercy (not specifically a climate book but an amazing prompt for expansive thoughts on what makes an equitable and sustainable world)
- Any of the articles on "Ours To Save" and sign up to the "Atmos" newsletter!
Are there three brands or items that you personally love in the sustainability space?
I'm not much of a consumer. Growing up low-income means I’m used to just making things last. Most of my clothes are from charity shops, or I've had them since I was 13, and I just re-use most things I have! Here are some though: I like "Salt Of The Earth”’s Deodorant, "The Good Club" for my organic and majority zero-waste pantry items (I think it's UK only), and "Ren Skincare" for face products.
What are you up to next?
ClimateinColour just launched The Colonial History of Climate, an online course that explores the interconnectedness of climate, science, and European Imperialism. The material is split up into modules broken up with interactive prompts, questions, and reflections to allow you to push the boundaries of their perception, scepticism, and understanding of our oppressive history and how some of those behaviours persist in our climate crisis today.
What are you hopeful about right now?
I'm hopeful about conversations about imagination and the future in the climate space.
If there was one thing you wanted people to know about climate, what would it be?
That you have a place in the movement to protect this planet, and it doesn't have to look like everyone else's. Step into your purpose to protect this planet.