In the fall of 2020, a new app burst into view just as lockdowns began in Europe and North America. “Clubhouse” went from little-known Silicon Valley investor darling to worldwide phenomenon in just a few short shelter-in-place weeks. It was exactly what a subset of Internet natives were looking for: A way to connect both with existing friends and new ones. Some planning, more serendipity.
In its early stages, the app was simple: Anyone with an invitation could start an audio-only chat room, either private or public. My first experiences with Clubhouse included having Chinese artist Ai Wei Wei pop in to a conversation on the Chinese government, and then listening in on a the leaders of a large Latina-oriented club arguing what to do about the discovery that one of the founders of the club was not born Latina, but only identified that way.
Separately, I was talking with Zoe Schlag, a once-and-future colleague and present friend of mine about climate migration, an issue we both wanted to understand and hoped would provide a keyhole into learning more about the human impact of climate change.
For five weeks (about as long as the buzz around Clubhouse lasted), Zoe and I held weekly conversations for whoever wanted to join, in which we followed along with a self-made syllabus on climate migration. Check out our reading list here, and then go find a copy of Ministry for the Future and Open Borders: