I never expected to win the 2016 Littlewoods Ireland Blog Awards, which is why I decided to go all out for my circus-theme costume in the hopes of at least winning a spot prize for my wardrobe efforts!
The competition in the Current Affairs and Politics blog category was intense. Some of my competitors get 250,000+ hits a month and even have online shops! It seemed impossible for the Verdant Yank to compete with that scale, so thanks to the voters and judges who saw past my lack of professionalism and still valued the sweat and tears I've put into my blog over the past two years.
I'm thrilled and deeply honored to receive a blog award. I'll confess when I started blogging, I didn't think much of the genre but was simply using it as a tool to brush up on my expertise and collate the evidence base for my arguments. If I got something wrong in a blog, I figured there would be plenty of people out there willing to correct me and I would learn a lot in the process. What I didn't expect is how much I would grow to value blogging both for the personal benefits it brings me and for its wider societal benefits.
Blogging also allows us to write in a far more personal style than most other types of writing, a style that is sorely lacking from most environment and climate communication. It took the scientist in me a while to shed my technical skin and let rip, but now that I have I'd find it hard to go back. We're only human and it's natural to need personal stories to connect to a complex message. We need to understand that environment and climate are not separate from us. Thank goodness blogging has finally given us a style to convey that essential concept.
On a personal level, blogging has become quite therapeutic for me. When the "good fight" has gotten me down, I've found myself taking to the web to vent frustrations. In that virtual world, I find like-minded people who echo my feelings and encourage me to keep going. At times, we join forces and become stronger through collaboration. I doubt I would still be active in climate campaigning if it weren't for that global network of virtual support. The task would simply feel too big and lonely.
Ironically, when I re-branded my blog six months ago from 'Cara's Climate Friday FAQs' to 'The Verdant Yank' it was partially out of frustration for always feeling like an outsider in Ireland despite having Irish citizenship since birth and living here longer than any other place in the world. No matter how hard I tried to prove my Irish-ness, I was repeatedly rejected professionally on the basis of my American accent and Danish last name so I decided to finally own the label and accept my place as an outsider. I assumed being a 'Yank' would preclude me from winning an Irish blog contest, so thanks to the organizers for making this Yank feel Irish for a change! That feeling of belonging, acceptance and validation for voluntary efforts couldn't have come at a better time.
Congratulations to all my fellow 2016 Blog Award Winners, who I really enjoyed meeting and being inspired by at #LWIBloggies2016, and extra special congratulations to my colleagues at GreenNews.ie who won the Science and Education corporate category. Two environmental blogs winning this year's competition means more than just a personal win for The Verdant Yank, but a bigger win that demonstrates public interest in environmental issues, and that gives me warm fuzzies....