TCD Best of: Rihanna $15M pledge to climate justice group! Plus Nivi Achanta’s “Soapbox Project”, and NetImpact.org
TCD Best of: Rihanna $15M Pledge to Climate Justice Groups, Nivi Achanta’s “Soapbox Project”, NetImpact.org
CLIMATE CHAMPION, NIVI ACHANTA
Here’s a fascinating person doing small things in a systematic way to achieve big goals. Her name is Nivi Achanta. She’s founder of The Soapbox, a newsletter-driven community that provides bite-sized action plans to tackle one aspect of climate change each month.
Before TSP, Achanta worked as consultant for Accenture because it touted itself as a place where “You can join our company and change the world.” Turns out that wasn’t the case. According to an interview with Hello Alice, Achanta said, “That sounds awesome, but it was sort of a misleading proposition. I realized that most of my time was spent on very typical corporate tasks. It was a very jarring shift going from this spirit of solutions with Net Impact to following the rules and checking the boxes.”
You see before she graduated from UC Davis as an econ/stats major, Achanta had a classic, “I’m-now-a-senior-and-I’m-about-to-graduate-with-a-degree -my-father-told-me-to-get-but-what-do-I-really-want-to-do-with-my-life” moment. Based upon her self-analysis, she started a local chapter of Net Impact, an international non-profit. It’s mission is to inspire and equip emerging leaders to build a more just and sustainable world.
Starting a Net Impact chapter was a form of counter programming to all her UC Davis (read “silicon valley”) classmates creating startup companies, gunning to become entrepreneurs. Through Net Impact, Anchanta created a space where the membership who were really interested in very specific environmental causes, like water management and waste management could flex and grow their own talents.
The Accenture consulting experience not only frustrated her for its lack of world-changing capability, it also reminded her of how powerful she is. And that’s why Nivi Achanta matters to us. As she said, “I went to work frustrated at how I had the resources and knowledge and intention to do something positive in the world, but I wasn’t really doing it. All I was doing was talking about how I wanted to do it!”
Achanta’s words give us permission to stop thinking and start acting on climate. The Soapbox Project newsletters et al, give us direction. How? Well you’ll just have to stick around past the music to find out more!
THE SOAPBOX PROJECT
Nivi Achanta started her post-college career as a consultant at Accenture. She says it was the 2018 Paradise wildfire—which incinerated her partner’s home—which spurred her to action, writing fun, approachable, bite-sized climate action newsletters.
She named her concept The Soapbox Project because of her fascination with the phrase,” I’m sorry, I’ll step off my soapbox now .” She said people say it after they have said something very important! So Achanta wondered, “What if you can give everyone a soapbox to amplify their own voices?” It was this idea of having a platform that would allow other people to step up and say their piece, and have an audience that would listen to them.
Achanta believes Community-led efforts are the future. TSP facilitates community-led efforts by giving folks from various locales ownership of local action channels presented on her platform. Imagine it as a Craigslist for good green works.
Beyond access to opportunity, TSP provides resources for groups to actually achieve the goals they’ve been working so hard on. Recently, Soapbox has dedicated programming to Bitcoin, fast fashion, food waste, fracking, and beyond. The idea is to deconstruct each topic into easy-to-understand parts and encourage readers to take immediate, impactful, and local action — all while (hopefully) having a good time.
Why does The Soapbox Project matter to us? It was created as a space on the internet and in real life where anyone can take action on something that’s meaningful to them in a way that works for them.
As Achanta puts it, she “knows that the world is burning. But what are we all going to do about it?”
“A lot of people don’t have close friends in their life who they can talk to seriously about social issues. Our community is a great place to actually share what you’re thinking and what you’re reading and what you’re listening to — and then do something about it within your community.” It’s designed for “Zillennials” but I think we could all use a dose of this solutions-oriented project mapping.
So what’s a Zillennial? If you were born between 1993 and 1998 – you can officially call yourself a Zillennial.
DEEPER DIVE: The Soapbox Project
So what’s this Net Impact that started Nivi Achanta, CEO and founder of The Soapbox Project, on her journey? According to its website, Net Impact Net Impact is a global community of students and professionals who aspire to be effective drivers of economic, social, and environmental change.
The organization is approaching 30 years of service in 2022. In those three decades, Net Impact has fostered almost 440 local chapters, each mobilizing next-generation leaders to use their skills, and their careers, to make a positive impact on the world.
Three types of chapters exist, undergrad, grad and professional. It does this through various programs, including “Making a Path Program,” which is open to all three chapter types. This is a 4-6 week course offered on a rolling basis. MAP s an opportunity for Net Impact chapter leaders to facilitate workshops for their members that support them to explore social impact career pathways
Net Impact Climate Ambassadors is another one. This is an 8-week program where folks will learn to use data and Climate Interactive’s tools to model scenarios that mitigate the worst impacts of climate change. Ambassadors have a 3 part experience: learning cutting edge climate data and tools, building relationships with climate-concerned Net Impact members from around the world, and amplifying impact by leading presentations to communities and climate decision makers worldwide.
Every year, Net Impact picks a theme on which to focus. In 2021, it was ‘Reimagining Capitalism’, digging deeper into the shifting and refined role business can play as a force of good.
According to its website, “Together, we will explore topics such as alternative economic models, defining and engaging stakeholders, harnessing technology for good, transforming business education, the intersection of people, planet, and profit, and so much more.”
RIHANNA COMMITS $15M TO CLIMATE JUSTICE
33-year-old superstar singer Rihanna, just pledged $15 million to 18 climate justice organizations – through her Clara Lionel Foundation, a foundation she created in 2012.
CLF supports and funds climate resilience and justice projects in the U.S. and Caribbean and advocates for policy and systems change to improve the quality of life for communities across the globe. Rihanna named her foundation in honor of her grandparents Clara and Lionel Braithwaite.
A statement from CLF said: “Climate disasters, which are growing in frequency and intensity, do not impact all communities equally, with communities of color and island nations facing the brunt of climate change. These grants support entities focused on and led by women, youth, black, indigenous, people of color and LGBTQIA+ communities. We invite others to join us in elevating, funding and supporting these groups and others who are on the frontlines of the climate justice movement.”
This funding is part of the CLF’s justice pillar, which focuses on “fighting for new, equitable systems and policy change.”
Why does Rihanna’s Clara Lionel Foundation gift matter to us? Other than that, we’re talking RIHANNA?? Seriously, her organization recognizes the intersectional nature of climate change and social justice. Which means the crisis is felt most keenly along the existing fault lines of inequality. Recognizing it’s a feminist issue, a racial justice issue, an economic rights issue, and a disability rights issue, Rihanna is now working to rectify the problem.
(Maybe that’s why Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley named her a national hero of Barbados, and Ambassador Robyn Rihanna Fenty.) Some of the grantees include the Black Feminist Fund, The Caribbean Youth Environment Network, and the Climate and Clean Energy Equity Fund. For a list of the other 15 organizations, check out the Deeper Dive section of this story at TheClimate.org/episodes.