Interview: Juan Villanueva on eco-journalism, Spanish and Manchester

We’re running interviews with folks who are supporters of CEM’s work, and those involved in campaigning for a greener and more socially just Manchester. Same questions every time. This time, it’s Juan Villanueva, whose latest piece for CEM was about the 22nd July NESC meeting...

  1. Who are you (Where were you born, When did you come to Manchester, if you weren’t born here. Why? What made you stay?)

My name is Juan, I am originally from Malaga (Spain) and I came to Manchester in 2018. On the first place, I came to Manchester to improve my English. My intention was just to come for a couple of years max. Then I knew friends, then the Uni, then I started writing about environment, then…well, you get the idea.

  1. When and how did you first come to realise that climate change is such a serious, urgent situation?

When I started my course at the Uni, the professor asked me what I was interested about. Among other topics I said ‘Environment’. It wasn’t climate change, global warming, or something like that, just a very vague answer to a professor. The thing is, I started writing about it. More research I did and more involved I was, more I realised we were very close to tipping points that will define the not-too-far future.

  1. What has been your experience (positive, negative, whatever) of involvement in environmental groups? (in Manchester and beyond. If it’s really negative, leave out names of groups!)

This question is complicated for me, because I mix personal and professional interest. The former has been great; I have discovered a whole new thing that I really think is the topic of the 21st Century (forgot COVID) and really interesting people to help to understand a really complicated subject. The latter… well let me put it on hold for now.

  1. Why did you start to get involved in CEM? What have you done? What has been your favourite bit?

To have a space where to write and get knowledge on how a city council works in the UK. I have followed up Scrutiny Committees at Manchester City Council. My favourite bit is I have felt I have a backup to approach the council. In addition, I would mention also the social side of it. To find like-minded people is an extra point.

  1. What other projects are you involved in that you would like to give a shout out to?

I am writing at The Green Bee: Eco-Journalism. This is my main project at the moment. It is a website where I publish articles about environment. I cover topics such as renewable energies, waste management, policies, etc…

  1. What things are you expert or ninja at, and would you like to share those with others?

I wouldn’t say ‘ninja level’ but I’d highlight following Scrutiny Committee. Although the content can be very different on committee to another, the dynamic is always the same. Very formal, very wordy, and very boring but critical for fighting against the climate crisis at local level.

  1. What things would you like to be better at (call out for help)

My English language. Although I think I am improving on it, I know I still ‘sounds’ very Spanish in my writing.

  1. A year from now, “success” for CEM looks like –

To join different activists groups (BAME, LGTB, Homelessness & other environmental groups) in pressure the council(s) for a better future.

  1. Anything else you’d like to say

To join us. The target for CEM is not only raising awareness about Climate Crisis but to enhance pressure on the council on different topics. So, regardless what are you interested at you will learn how to approach to your council. In addition, you will know interesting people!

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