Climate Curious speaks to HERO co-founder, Mauricio Porras, to learn about the platform providing a stable monthly income to activists.

Transcript: How you can pay climate activists a fair wage, with one click

TEDxLondon Climate Curious

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Coffee or a liveable future? You decide! Climate activists are doing one of the world’s most crucial, and dangerous jobs. So how come they don’t get paid for it? In this week’s Climate Curious, we’re talking to Mauricio Porras, co-founder of HERO |, which is the subscription platform providing a stable monthly income to activists on the frontlines of climate policy campaigning with the support of citizens worldwide. For the price of a grande pumpkin spice frappuccino (which we estimate to be about £6), every month, you can support climate activists around the globe who are working to secure our future. 

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Maryam Pasha:  In this week’s Climate Quickie from Climate Curious by TEDxLondon, we’re talking about climate activism, with the founder of the subscription platform putting money behind young activists, the Hero app.

Ben Hurst: Mauricio Porras joins us to share why climate activists don’t actually want to be heroes. But if no one else is willing to wear the cape, what else is a guy to do? I’m joking, but on a serious level, it’s not fair that young climate activists have the weight of the world on their shoulders, they’re risking their civil liberties, and they’re not even getting paid.

Maryam Pasha: Mauricio is working to change all that with his app, Hero. Let’s hear about it, and remember,

Ben Hurst: stay curious.

Maryam Pasha: stay curious!

Maryam Pasha: So we’ve had some pretty awesome activists on this podcast over the last two and a half years. Um, and I think many of them young activists and [00:06:00] Each of them has talked in their own way about the difficulties of, of doing this work, uh, both psychologically, financially, personally, the barriers that they face, all of the different kinds of things, and one thing that has struck me in all of those conversations is that, you know, these young people and, or older people who are activists have very much This is their life’s

Ben: Yeah.

Maryam: they have had to make decisions to not to do other things that maybe they were interested in or love to do this [00:06:30] work, which is why I’m super excited that we get to have this conversation with

Ben: conversation. I mean, this conversation feels timely because everybody is broke . It’s a, it’s a, it’s a cost of living crisis out here. The streets are cold. No one’s making any money, and you’re right.

Maryam: mean, you should all know that Ben is dressed in head to toe pearls, but yes. I made these. We’ll talk about that another time. Another episode.

Maryam: But let’s, let’s get into it cuz I want Welcome Mauricio. Thank you for coming here

Mauricio: Thank you for having me.

Maryam: Alright, if you can just tell people a bit about HERO, and what it is in case people haven’t heard about it, because I’d like to start with that work.

Mauricio: So HERO. What it is the first climate platform powered by citizens. Uh, it allows you to fund the top climate campaigners, upcoming campaigners, doing what we call the most important job of our time, and it allows you to fund them directly. Just like other platforms, for example, like Patreon, where you fund artists, this is your platform to fund the top campaigners in the world to enact policy change from the ground up.

Ben: So good!

Maryam: Yeah. So for those who haven’t come across this on their feed yet, tell us how it works.

Mauricio: Yeah, so you know that there’s thousands of climate campaigners. There’s a whole new generation that wants to take action [00:09:00] for their future and our future. Uh, and the way we work is that we have bedded the most promising upcoming climate campaigners through an independent board.

Mauricio: So we’ve worked a lot on the governance of hero to strive for transparency. Uh, so we have an independent board. Campaigners apply all over the world to H. E. R. O. to be in the platform, and they’re vetted, and the main aspect that we take a look at is the fact that they have a track record of non violent advocacy, [00:09:30] and that they’re focused on policy change.

Mauricio: We really want to push, you know, the bar up in terms of policy change where, where we see that is where we can have the biggest impact.

Maryam: It’s important. Because policy change is not…

Ben: the biggest impact.

Maryam: It’s,

Ben: It’s not cool, is it? I mean, I mean, speaking honestly, it doesn’t feel like the coolest thing of all time.

Maryam: Yeah. I mean, what’s really, for me, what’s interesting is it’s just not, it’s not just you and your mates. Like you have vetted these people. You have a, a way that people get onto your platform. Um, That feels very thorough, but I do think what you’re saying, Ben, around policy change is interesting because I’ve, I worked in policy change for a bit or

Ben: you’re saying cool, it is

Maryam: but what I mean is that

Mauricio: that

Maryam: was, it’s

Mauricio: hard. It’s complex. It’s

Maryam: complex, but actually one of the things I found was that it’s hard to get funding for it because people want to fund things where they

Ben: change right away. They want to fund

Mauricio: where they can

Maryam: the change right away.

Maryam: They want to fund like a shelter or a thing, you know, like a thing they don’t necessarily understand. Yeah. Yeah.

Ben: how to fund policy change.

Mauricio: Yeah, no. And it has been a challenge because we really we’ve wanted to disrupt the way that you approach climate action. So here has like several components and make it very unique. For example, I was having a conversation the other day saying like What I love about HERO is that when you think of climate action, you think about saving, I don’t know, tigers, uh, or planting trees or, uh, coral reefs, but with HERO, you can actually support humans, like you can have a direct connection with those and support their journey from the ground up.

Mauricio: thinking so is this a way for Climate activists to get a salary because I feel like the thing that stops the big barrier Is that people are often working for months or years at a time

Ben: With no real income stream, um, which ends up looking like a lot of sacrifice And I think that’s probably one of the things that we don’t really talk about It’s just this expectation that people will do this work for free because they believe it’s important or because they care about you because they’re good People but actually like the practicalities of that are In lots of cases unbearable.

Mauricio: And then you lose all that amazing people. We were seen five years ahead and thinking like, okay, this 21 year old 22 year old campaigners,

Ben: campaigner

Mauricio: they’re all in today, but we still live in a capitalistic system. So as you said, you need to pay the rent, you need to pay the bills, you need to make a living. out of your career.

Mauricio: So how do we engage or keep them engaged in the long run? Because we have seven years to bring down global temperature to 1. 5 and we cannot afford to lose them in two years. So who, who then secures those policies?

Mauricio: Yeah, we want to empower people to empower these campaigners from the ground up.

Mauricio: They’re working in their local communities, and then they go to the global stage. We’ve seen various examples of this. Elizabeth Wathuti, for example, in Africa, she started in her local community. Now she’s Negotiating at COP, you know, the Loss and Damage Agreement, for example. Adelaide, you know, organizing in Belgium, and now she’s literally, uh, you know, holding politicians accountable at the EU level.

Mauricio: So these are the stories that we want to multiply by the thousands. We actually have a goal in the next five years, with the help of citizens, to fund the next generation of 10, 000 climate campaigners. So just imagine. What the world could look like if we had 10, 000 Gretas, 10, 000 Liz Wathuti, and so on.

Mauricio: It would look totally different.

Maryam: How much do people, does a subscription cost? Like what are we, what are we talking about here? Yeah,

Mauricio: are we talking about here? Yeah, it starts at six euros So two coffees a couple of beers a month

Maryam: in London, that’s one coffee in

Ben: that’s half a coffee.

Maryam: In New York, it’s definitely half a coffee.

Ben: yeah.

Maryam: But, but

Mauricio: you put it in perspective so what we’re trying to do because generally how this works is You get, you know, big chunks of funding and then you fund and it’s a process that you just described you have all these applications and all this Sort of bureaucracy and it doesn’t reach everyone with this, you know, it’s six euros But if we get ten thousand people to put six euros 20,000 and so on, then it becomes an interesting amount to provide a stable income to all these campaigners.

Maryam: and so on, then it becomes

Mauricio: the goal. That’s the goal,

Maryam: interesting amount to provide a [00:33:00] stable income for all. how much you’re able to bring in for those people. Like,

Ben: people? How many citizens are involved? Yeah.

Mauricio: Yeah, I mean, millions, millions of citizens, I think, I mean, when you look at the numbers of citizens in the world, uh, our goal is to reach out to everyone. I think everyone has the power to, to do something and, and what we’re striving for is to make it as easy, as seamless as possible for people to just say, okay, I care about climate.

Mauricio: Sometimes I don’t have the time. I have also my career, which I love and it’s totally fine, but this is a very simple way to just with your phone, literally six euros a month have a very outsized impact.

Ben: This is so interesting. I feel like a proper venture capitalist sitting here. I feel like I’m being pitched to. This is so good.

Maryam: is actually about your own self interest, right? If you were smart,

Ben: you would invest

Maryam: I want to have a future.

Ben: Yeah.

Maryam: Can I, you know, just like you invest in your pension or your, you invest in other kinds of things.

Maryam: Maybe it’s like people go to the gym to invest in their bodies so that they have a body when they get old. I have not invested enough

Ben: of

Maryam: knees. Um,

Ben: me either.

Maryam: but it is that mindset shift. I think that’s really actually a super cool. Um, because I do think that part of what. I think the passiveness that people might feel when

Ben: my gosh. Yeah.

Maryam: um, I feel it, like I’m someone who’s super passionate about causes and sometimes I feel like I just lose my energy when I’m just giving to something and then it’s like, oh, I’ve done, it’s just, it’s like given and it’s

Ben: Yeah,

Maryam: but when I feel like I’m investing in something, when I feel like I’m engaging in something, I have such a different

Mauricio: energy

Ben: Yeah

Mauricio: you know, we we have put a lot of mind and thoughts into how to put this in the, you know, this power, to give this power full tool.

Mauricio: And put it in the hands of everyday citizens, like we want this tool to be the tool for people, for people and by people, right? So it’s, it’s not about just, you know, getting, you know, the certain funds, you know, to just scale this and, and get the funding. It’s actually about involving the citizens in the whole journey.

Mauricio: Because when they’re supporting these campaigners, they’re not just. Giving actually, as you said, investing, they become part of their journey. So, you know, you can fund an upcoming climate campaigner that you haven’t heard about in the news yet. And then seeing their progress in the next two years, when they have the tools, the funding and seeing them at the global stage that was because of you.

Ben: it does feel like it’s literally a couple of clicks away.

Ben: The difference between me doing nothing and me having a massive impact on

Maryam: feeling, feeling of

Ben: Yeah, feeling like you are able to do something like you’re making choices and decisions that are benefiting the world, right?

Mauricio: Hero Hero. Six zeros a month. Outsize impact. Amazing climate campaigners.



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