#VisualGreenTech: Challenge Retrospective


Photo Credit: Unsplash

About #VisualGreenTech

On April 1 (2021), we launched the #VisualGreenTech challenge with an announcement on the HelloWorld show and a blog post on the Microsoft Green Tech Community blog.

The challenge itself consisted of 24 prompts shared on social media with the intent of raising awareness and action around topics related to sustainable living and green technology in community and workplace contexts. Readers were invited to review a linked resource, think about a question posed in the daily prompt, and respond with a visual that reflected a related insight.

On April 22, we held a special #EarthDay themed edition of the HelloWorld show where we reviewed the submissions we had seen till then, and talked to Microsoft Student Ambassador Locksley Kolakowski who was our most profilic and consistent participant, logging a visual response for every one of our prompts.

Today is May 3 - and in this post, I want to briefly review the prompts (and explain the reason behind them) and give shout-outs to everyone who contributed content to the challenge.

Challenge Prompts

The challenge consisted of 24 prompts that were broadly organized into 4 groups:

  1. Apr 7-21 | Principles of Sustainable Software Engineering
  2. Apr 22-24 | Minecraft Education: Various
  3. Apr 25 | Eco Challenges & Community
  4. Apr 26-30 | Microsoft & Sustainability

Target: Technologists | The first focuses on the (2) core philosophies and (8) core principles of sustainable software engineering as described in this fantastic Microsoft Learn module. Use it to understand (and reduce) the carbon footprint of your project and product development processes.

Target: Educators & Students | The second focuses on K-12 audiences, using custom-crafted Minecraft worlds like Sustainability City to learn how critical processes like food production, water treatment, green buildings (think cities), sustainable forestry, energy-efficient housing (think suburbs), and power grid are made sustainable.

Target: Indivduals & Communities | The third focuses on individual/community education and habit formation using initiatives like EcoChallenge.org. By joining an active challenge (and team), you are motivated to take actions regularly that educate you, and create collective impact on the environment.

Target: Large-Scale Organizations | The final group focuses on initiatives at the scale of large organizations. For example: Microsoft has been vocal about its sustainability goals, making this site a good resource for exploring tools, guides and challenges for achieving goals like being carbon negative, water positive, zero waste and environmentally biodiverse.

Community Response

Given the social nature of this challenge, I hope to tell the retrospective story almost entirely through tweets.

  1. The challenge was officially kicked off on April 1, 2021 with this tweet that gave a sneak peek at the various upcoming prompts, and the dates (calendar) for their activation.
  1. Our first community response was from Locksley Kolakowski who went on to post a record 24 responses (i.e., one for each prompt) with an incredibly productive approach that used a mix of Powerpoint (fonts) with hand-drawn (doodles) to create a signature series of visuals.
  1. Days later, we had our second Microsoft Student Ambassador participate, this time it was Racheal Chek taking on the concept of being water-positive.
  1. Then, we had this amazing visual for zero-waste from Microsoft PM Dasani Madipalli, a talented doodler in her own right. Check out her visual notes on her blog at dasanidecoded.com
  1. We also had this burst of sunshine from Cloud Advocate Lead Jen Looper who tackled the topic of energy proportionality in the most uniquely flowery way!
  1. On April 22, we invited the amazing Locksley to join us live on Hello World, to celebrate our #EarthDay special, featuring her visual art from this challenge in our special #ABSee segment. Check out this post for links to all the segments airing that day!
  1. Last but not least, I celebrated #EarthDay weekend by working with my 12yo to create our first stop-motion animation story about sustainability. You can can watch the video linked in this tweet and meet the cast of characters (and dialog) in the tweet below:

I’ll leave you with two main resources that might help you navigate this content:

  1. A #24DaysOfSustainability Twitter Moments collection that captures the daily prompts, responses and other engagement around the #VisualGreenTech challenge.

  2. Locksley’s website where she has collected her visuals into four blog posts (one per week) for quick scanning. The figure below shows her entire #VisualGreenTech contributions in one image.

Next Steps

As someone said poignantly, every day is Earth Day!.

While we ran the #VisualGreenTech challenge as a means of jumpstarting awareness and motivating action in April, the truth is that climate change is possible only if we remain vigilant and committed to this course of sustainable best practices across work, home, and community.

I set up this site as a way to continue the exploration of sustainability and green computing concepts, challenges, and initiatives - through a visual storytelling lens. In the upcoming days, weeks and months, expect to see more articles that conduct research on a broad topic (using a number of resources) and distill that into a visual guide (single page, hi-res image) for quick scanning, understanding and recall.

`If you have a topic or resources that would make a suitable target for visual guides, please let me know by tagging or DM-ing me @nitya

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