Interview with Pablo Ruiz-Múzquiz: CEO and Cofounder at Kaleidos, Taiga and Penpot, Penpot
I decided to devote my professional career not to Physics or Science, but Engineering and applied technology through open source as a means and an end.
Pablo, thanks for coming on and thank you for your time. You’ve got an interesting and pretty unusual project in my opinion in Penpot. Before you go into that, give us a bit of background about who you are and how you got here?
Thanks for having me. This is a very exciting time for me and the rest of the team at Kaleidos. Personally, my background is in Science and Engineering, Physics and Computer Science. I’m always interested in how to promote critical thinking in society through Science. When I found open source in the 1990s, I saw that as a way to have a nice impact through technology, society, transparency, agency and all that. I decided to devote my professional career not to Physics or Science, but Engineering and applied technology through open source as a means and an end. I had the privilege to be given super big opportunities, chances and build my own teams. With these teams, we’ve come up fast-forward 2011, not a great year in Spain where we were raised in financial crisis but we had that immense credit and privileged to be able to kick start our own company and that’s Kaleidos.
We are fourteen people knowing that we could experiment with a different type of company in the IT sector. We would go and be your technological partner for your big startup, “I want to be the next Facebook.” Those days that was a big thing. We would be your IT partner for a couple of years, super big challenging projects, tons of money but no team, and we will be your team for a period of time. At the same time, we would make sure that we would incubate our own ideas. We would experiment with our own technologies, projects and things that would please us with no restrictions. We have had these hackathons probably for six months. We would enjoy hackathons and it was for fun. It turns out that become what Kaleidos is. We came from this hybrid model where we do first for the people and we also incubate our ideas and they’ve evolved so much that it’s unbearable for good reasons.
It’s either we keep doing this hybrid model where we don’t have a focus or we just concede and say, “Let’s go all-in with Taiga and Penpot.” Penpot was released and we were going to cover that. It’s very exciting for us. Taiga was released a few years ago. We are very excited at the moment. The critical mass foregoing product, open-source product, driven and focused, is having made possible with Penpot. We have two very potentially successful products that are open source. It’s fair to question whether you want to keep on doing your consultancy even it’s very prestigious and boutique. We want you to just focus on your product, ideas and pushing your own agenda through your technology. That’s the background in terms of me. I’m coming from a strong copyleft mindset, very horizontal management, self-managed teams, trustworthy relationships, very open values in companies and all about the team, respecting the team, generosity, honesty, all that and understanding that technology is not neutral at all. Technology is never neutral. Technology that exists is already having an impact.
Who wants some technology to exist or some other thing not to exist? It is a decision that underlines the agenda. I’m not saying agenda in a bad way, just people pushing their values through technology or any form of artistic work. Kaleidos is called Kaleidos Open Source. That’s the name of the company. Imagine how important open source is to us. We were met with this pain a few years ago when we were forced to use subpar open source project management platforms. Since team management, project management, methodologies, agile and lean practices were important to us, we decided to fix that for us. This is very typical with tons of teams that have not only the idea but the capability to implement it, so we developed Taiga. Initially, it was a pet project and it was with a funny name that I won’t say here, but it turned out to be Taiga.
Taiga has become very quickly a leading open source agile project management platform and is now used by millions everywhere. It’s a very global, multicultural, multilingual, multi-functional team project management platform. We’re very successful and happy with that. It’s very nice to see that people don’t see Taiga as a clone of anything proprietary, and not the open-source version of alternative. It is its own thing. Taiga is Taiga. You can compare us to anything, to Trello, Jira, Asana and all that, but you won’t ever see someone saying that it’s the clone of something.
Probably half of the agencies in the world had a go at building their own project management tool. The thing is building a future project platform is quite good because there are not that many. It must be up there with a to-do list app like one of the most common things that people have an opinion about. To be one of the surviving few from the thousands that must have been started is an achievement.
It’s quite similar to frameworks. It’s very tempting to not develop the product but to develop a framework and then which frameworks survive? There are a few. It’s tempting to develop your own project management platform because it’s all about opinions, processes, workflows, and who doesn’t want to fix dysfunctional teams through a tool? Develop a tool or a framework so you can then develop faster products but you never go and develop products. You just get stuck with a framework and if the framework is not good, then it’s a total failure.
Taiga is not that. It was about developing something that is useful for us, for other people, sustainable, making a difference and creates value. It’s a serious thing. It’s not a pet project. We raised some money and kept on developing new features. We released Taiga6, which is an amazing release. Taiga6 is a game-changer for us and all people. We’ve seen the metrics and we stay on metrics in terms of updating existing Taiga releases and new adoption. The next pain and is important for people to understand. Kaleidos still had major pain. We got the thing that is super painful, which is project management, so team relationship sorted out. We have our own stuff like, “This is where I buy design.” Since we were getting more into the design as a key component of how we approach data products and on our workloads and the design process was more important coming from a back end centric perspective myself. I am Python Developer.
More UX/UI team members joined the ranks of Kaleidos. Our motto is a beautiful code and they say, “We get that code is important and beautiful, but it’s also important that the product is beautiful.” We say, “A product cannot be beautiful if the code is not beautiful and the code is not beautiful if you cannot look at it like open source.” This is something I would encourage all the IT shops or agencies, if you are coming from a developer-centric mindset, to welcome designers, user experience and UI people, because the moment you see the value they give, you will want more out of them and you will transfer part of the leading role in some aspect to them because they do a great job in conceptualizing, leading and making decisions. The design process is very important.
What was the pain in Kaleidos? We needed a professional design tool and we are Kaleidos Open Source. What options did we have?
I don’t mean a tool where you can design but a platform where you can collaborate, design mock-ups, get feedback, have multiple users real-time collaboration, have assets multiple project views so you can share assets, libraries, icons. It’s like a full-fledged professional design and prototype tool. There was nothing. We had this situation where the design team said, “Sorry but we need to use a prototype tool. You developers, front end and back end, live in paradise.” This is paradise. Open source gives you everything. If it’s not leading the segment, the tool you’re using is a serious challenge to the leader. You have all the choices. You not only have the freedom that the tool gives you but you have this freedom of choice. We don’t have such luxury.
I’d never considered it but it’s true. We’re in a wealth of riches. There are hundreds of web frameworks and languages that can serve millions of requests a second. I remember back in the day, there was a job of Java server called Blue Martini. It was $50,000 per CPU. Those days are long gone. It sounds ludicrous now. I’d never considered it if UX or a graphic designer then you’re completely out of luck.
Yeah because they don’t have the luxury of these frameworks between the EMMX. They could not even have frameworks over different open source platforms. They get something good enough for them to be productive and feel creative. People say, “Code is a very artistic and very intellectual activity like coding.” Design is certainly is a very artistic and intellectual activity. The extension of your brain and your hand is a tool. You want that tool not to filter out. You want that to promote your creativity. They were saying, “Sorry but we need to cross this red line to use something that is not open source.” We said, “No, we were fearing this. That’s what happened where you allow people from the designs phase. They want to use prototypes.” No, they didn’t. It’s just we are saying, “We need this. We don’t want it but it’s a survival mode that we have to go into.” We asked, “What is that tool?” They anonymously say, “Figma by far is the best approach.”
It shares some ideas from Taiga in terms of team collaboration and also it’s browser-based. We can use Linux. Everyone here uses Linux. No one uses Mac or anything. They were like, “It’s browser-based. This is great.” You can imagine that same day Penpot was born because this could not be a permanent solution. This had to be a temporary solution like, “How is this for the time being?” This is something that a lot of people probably have thought, “I’ll develop a design tool.” It turns out, it is very tough to develop such a tool.
People can very easily understand that when you are designing a tool for designers, you are entering two challenges. One, technological. You have to manipulate and transform mathematical objects at lightspeed, super slick UI and all that. Performance-wise, this has to be the leading edge. The tiniest lack and you feel out like, “No, this is wrong.” The second challenge is the UI/UX because this is for people to design other tools. It’s quite meta, in a way, it’s a framework. You can not anticipate what people are going to do with Penpot.
You must ensure that people are free to create whatever they want. It is not easy. Starting with the technological challenges. No wonder there are only a handful of these tools out there. It’s not like people don’t want to develop this. It’s very tough to develop this. You need a certain level of talent and expertise. We launched Penpot Alpha. The response from the community has been amazing because people have seen this, appreciated the silent work put on this and understood the value.
What about the open standards, SVG, the multi collaboration, web-based, self-hosting? The unique approach to these multifunctional teams that we also want to promote on Taiga like code, design, hand-in-hand. For agile methodologies, Taiga is great for designers because designers will always say at the beginning, “Agile is not for me. Lean is not for me. I need like proper silo times.” Taiga is very welcoming for designers. Penpot is very welcoming for developers. Penpot is the design tool for designers that developers would love.
It’s interesting to say that because I used Figma property for the first time when we redesigned our website’s homepage. I didn’t design it but someone much more talented than me. I was raving about it to everybody that I could speak to because it spoke my language. I subconsciously respected the engineering behind it as well. It’s an amazing tool and also the front end web assembly is pushing the frontiers of what’s possible on the web and in a browser. That’s an interesting point because that totally rung with me.
We also got that first impression out of Figma like respect. This is serious stuff here and people had accolades going under a hood see things and say, “I like this.” It’s nice that years later we are receiving the same responses from other people like, “These guys are using Clojure.” This makes sense because this is a functional programming language meant for functions and mathematical objects. Clojure and ClojureScript. Some products do require that exception to the rule where you probably don’t want to go for the mainstream technology but it makes sense.
It’s for the good and right reasons. You can get that first impression in terms of engineering to respect but Penpot doesn’t want you to feel respectful or that you appreciate that, but also that you feel at home because there are interoperability open standards and the intuition with cod. It is native to the platform. As a developer, I prefer my designers to use Penpot because it makes my life easier. Starting with SVG, whatever you see as a design, that is already a valid code. The moment you understand that Penpot is at the storage level somehow is SVG. It could be a file because in SVG you could persist that into a file. You start looking at how to interrogate that with a gate repository.
As a designer you think, “Now I can commit designing some Penpot and that gets into the report.” For the first time, a designer is going to feel they are first-class citizens with a gate repository because I haven’t seen these in some interviews in open source and technology. The repository is a room for developers because it’s all about files and code that you can read and open. Binary files? I don’t like that. Designers could potentially be part of that. They either used something like SVG. Penpot can breach that gap. I dream of that day when a designer is using Penpot, creates their version of something they designed, commits, pushes or whatever we think is appropriate vocabulary, and gets pushed into the repository. With a continuous integration process, it gets into production.
The designer somehow would become a key element of the team and the whole process. Having code and design together closer is something for these decades. We started with Taiga in central methodology like making these dysfunctional teams functional through a tool that is meant for that conversation to flow. With Penpot is the design process to make sure that code and design in terms of the output are also integrated. In the end, this team Kaleidos is all about super beautiful professional-grade, open-source platforms for cross-functional teams, code and design. Why? Because that’s what we are and what we understand. We think we are enjoying a great time, and we think other people could enjoy the potential that we’ve achieved in terms of what we are able to develop together.
How many of your team went and ran under their desk when you told them you were going to build a vector design tool?
None because it came from the team. This is the beauty of Kaleidos. The team itself and designers included said, “We need to fix that.” I couldn’t argue with that. It’s like, “Are you serious?” We had these hackathons and some prototypes were presented. We were like, “There are a lot of potentials but it was a long shot.”
Did you have any idea whatsoever about how much time it might take to get to a useful tool? As an experienced engineer, it’s like the point that you mentioned that there aren’t many out there and there’s probably a good reason for that. It’s that they’re hard and they take a ton of effort. That would be why I would run under the desk.
That’s very risky. We had a reference with Taiga to get to something that worked for us, which was only the very selfish-oriented decision-making process, whether it’s, “What is the minimum time will require for us to substitute Figma?” We don’t care about other people. It’s just we need to fix this problem. We said, “Last time, it was 1.5 years. Let’s do 1.5 years.” That forces you to prioritize and hope for the best because in Kaleidos, what we did is the revenue and profits that came from projects for their people were diverted into making sure that we had a completely fully devoted team for this. The team would do a great job. There’s no shortage of motivation, talent and passion.
That 1.5 year is irrelevant compared to the other ingredients. We’re also very mission-focused and driven like we need something that replaces Figma and Ambition and all the potential tools that we would use. Replacement-driven development but not cloning. This is important because that was not so exciting to clone something. In another probable universe, this failed. We are not having this conversation. This was a super failure and sad. We are living on Earth 87 and this came out successfully.
Talk a little bit about the technology choices that you made. Did you make those choices around Clojure and the server-side infrastructure? Where they baked in from day one or did they iterate over time?
The main building blocks about Clojure Reactive and event-driven architecture were pretty early on. It was the realm of 1 or 2 people and that was not good, but the main decisions were okay. We opened it up to a bigger team. To this day when you ask the team, you won’t get the, “We need to reflect on all this now.” I’m happy not to hear it. What is the best technology for this challenge? What is the best team? Kaleidos can throw at it without the best technology and the best methodology. We typically say, “The best methodology, team and technology depend on the outcome that you want. If you want to transfer the project to a startup that is a client at the moment, those decisions go one way. If this is going to be your own product, the decision would be different.”
There’s no concept to the character?
The left and right alignment, paragraph structure or auto wrapping of texts are not something that has to do with vector, has to do with how you approach that abstraction that is a text for you as a human being. That was a challenge but we sorted it out. That was a huge roadblock at some point like, “We could have hit our big issue here,” but we overcome that. We were happy with the technology choices. We are happy that the technology community is looking at Penpot as a great example of what you can do and achieve with Clojure.
Certain technology typically belongs to certain product categories and you never see that. I used to develop using Fortran and I’m pretty sure you will find a way it belongs. All the technologies are multipurpose in essence, but in practical terms, they are very niche. You might have gone through that. I can put a nice counter-example of that. It can also be used for an end-user interface heavy product.
I’m thinking that the streaming nature of the network and collaborative data that you’re talking about, in my head, maps perfectly to a functional language. Functional languages are streams of things and almost philosophically, SVG is a stream of things as well.
It’s a stream of data, functions of functions, composite functions, composite objects, abstractions that fortunately here are just very pure mathematical objects. At the same time, you cannot have any loss of information. You have a very complex design. You decide to group and rotate a tiny degree. You have to be mathematical pure and your screen has pixels on it. At some point, there is some loss of information in terms of the accuracy of your pixel and density. At the storage level and the representational level, you know that is a function. You can rerun it as many times as you want.
It’s the only way that you can keep adding features because you can be certain that the underlying functioning structure is very stable and easy to test. It’s not trivial to test but the testing development here benefits from the functional programming paradigm. I’m not saying you can use all the technologies. Certainly, we have examples of that. The message here is this is not a failure, this is part of the success. There are no plans for an immediate refactor anytime soon. On the contrary, we released a new minor release every couple of weeks and people are like, “Just two weeks and we have all this?” It was like, “We can code at this speed.”
You’ve spent the last years terrified that you’re suddenly going to hit, run out of the road with the SVG format that you want to do something that it can’t encapsulate. I presume Sketch and Figma have proprietary data formats. Do they?
That’s the way they sorted it out. They neglected open standards, that you can export to SVG, but there’s a lot of information. Lost in translation as we like to call it. It’s not bad but this is not the native format. The way all the other tools fix these is they create their own format as always. We said, “We need to make sure we exhaust the SVG option.” We were successful but I’m not saying two years terrified, but six months, yeah.
Whenever I’m working with an SVG like in IDE, I always open it to look and see that it’s just text. It amuses me and I find it incredible.
This is very important. SVG in itself might have some inherent limitations because it makes sense not to treat texts as a word processor. You have to do some hacks with HTML. That’s okay. We could do that. We do smart things and using open standards and all that. With SVG, you need browsers to adhere to the standard. You need browsers to be super friendly team players because you cannot go and redevelop the Mozilla SVG support. It’s the same way that some browsers have eventually treat CSS.
They had their own way of adhering to standards and metrics will tell you that they support that. SVG also falls within that more degree of noncompliance. You have to make sure that you’re aware of that and fix that. Sometimes the challenge with SVG would not be SVG itself but that certain browser is not treating SVG as it should. Why is that? Fortunately, SVG is the language of the web also and we don’t have many issues. We are here with the most challenging task which is everything is SVG. If there was a tool to test open standards adherence, that is Penpot.
I remember back in the good old days of Internet Explorer 6. There were those huge CSS testing web pages that you could go to. You’d end up with some garbage on the screen and your browser crashes. Does that exist for SVG or not?
It does exist with one happy change or difference. That is that your users will typically accept the right browser for the task. You still want to have 100% score for marks on Chrome, Mozilla, Safari and Edge. In the end, it is Firefox or Chrome technology. You want to target those. Chrome is a bit better on Firefox in terms of overview. A designer that is using Penpot on the browser probably is using the latest browser technology. It’s in their interest for other reasons. The only thing that might matter to you is that those latest Mozilla Chrome-based technologies, how they are supporting SVG? You don’t need to go for the equivalent of Explorer 6. There’s no Legacy browser that you need to support because your audience is not interested in that. Perhaps they’re developing for that but then they themselves are not suffering from that. Those metrics do exist and we follow them very closely, any change and improvement is big news for us.
Are you filing bugs with them when you find something that you think is wrong with the implementation?
You have to be very humble. These people are developing operating systems. First, let’s think it’s us. What is the most likely outcome here? “That is my fault, that I haven’t done this right.” There are sometimes where the only plausible explanation is that the browser is not following the standards to its very core. We said, “Find already reported box on this.” It’s like, “It’s not just me. There are other people.” At the same time, it’s more often than the bad news moments. We found that using open standards allows us to develop faster. I’ll give you a very beautiful example. For ages, users, developers and designers have begged Figma and others to have RTL support or Right-To-Left language support. It was like this, “It’s too complex. No way. Not a priority.” I won’t go into why is that not a priority anyway, but Penpot got that feature request in mid-February. Mid-March, we have RTL support, the first design tool that has RTL support.
People were like, “It was not tough after all.” We said, “It wasn’t because we were using open standards, web standards, SVG and HTML.” We took advantage of that and we wanted to have RTL support. The equation is both ingredients. The fact that other platforms to this day still don’t have it is probably because they’re also lacking the two ingredients. They don’t see that as a priority. For their users, they don’t see that as important. Second, they are not using open standards and they have to develop every bit of that feature themselves.
We get some minor roadblocks in terms of how browsers implement things, but at the same time browsers are accelerating the rate at which we can give away features. We have our priorities. We want to develop something. The same happens with Taiga. It’s a web-based platform. There are some things that you won’t find in other tools, too many clicks, too many micro-interactions. Taiga is usually a web standard. RTL support is also a nice example, and you get it. This is just the beginning for Penpot. We’ll see in a year time that there are some fundamental limitations that we weren’t aware of.
It sounds to me like you intentionally didn’t put too much thought into what you wanted the end state of the project to be, especially around commercials. Is that right or was that clear in your head?
You’re right but that’s purely because of our privilege. You are making a living out of your talent for the people that pay you an hourly fee to develop great stuff. That puts food on the table. You don’t need to sort out the monetization model for the tool that you want to exist because it serves your very selfish purpose of not using prototype software. It’s good to start with that very relatively humble approach depending on the challenge they had.
First, let’s make sure I can replace my own proprietary tool and then I have the luxury of thinking whether this could be monetized or to use a more profound and philosophical term. This is sustainable and important. I’m not saying this as a euphemism. Sustainability and open source are some of its key ingredients but also it’s very important. Other people have asked, “How are you going to make this sustainable? This is great but it has to be sustainable.” I totally agree. This cannot be just two year’s worth of work and then there’s no continuity.
Everything we develop for the people, we also make sure it’s sustainable from the beginning. Many years ago, we said, “This is about the sustainability of technology.” This is one of the things that we don’t want to say, “You need to refactor all this and redo this.” We don’t want people to come to our code and say, “Who did this?” Sustainability has always been an issue for us and it has to be for our products. They have to be sustainable. Sustainable means technology, the rate at which you add features, the rate at which you get bugs, and how did you have a contribution model that scales. Also, if you need a team of 10 or 15 people, you need some revenue, that will come in the next years. It’s not something relevant now.
Do you think that’s an underappreciated model of building open source projects? I get the feeling that if you didn’t have a commercial aspect or entity to the business, the daunting challenge with that but without it seems like it would be almost impossible.
For some projects that have the scale, it is almost impossible. You have to get some revenue. You could have some funding. It doesn’t have to be revenue from sales or anything. That’s the way we have incubated so far because that’s the key question, not the revenue, “Where’s the funding to sustain a team that is fully devoted to this? We have a lot of projects. Is that an employee-owned company, Kaleidos?” We have the authority to say, “It’s not monetary profits. What we do is channel those profits to keep those teams working on that.” People could say, “Let’s go and monetize a new model. You have these consultancy services and you channel profits.”
At some point, they are big that in order to keep those teams fully devoted, it needs that you have more services like sell more consultancy. We are not excited about that. The ratio between consultancy and product development could be 2 to 1, or 3 to 1 probably. Could there be another monetization model that is not channeling revenue, and that doesn’t rely on charity and foundation because it’s too early for any of that? You could create value-added services for certain types of companies or users that are understanding that while they spending, your product goes to continue to sustain the team.
That allows us to say no to services and external clients, which we love because we have this filtering and ethical committee. We say only yes to a very small handful of clients. We are okay with that but we are not okay with a ratio. That’s where we’re going to experiment with. The worst that could happen is that it wasn’t our time or the product, we made the wrong decisions and start over. Our privilege is that we can start over and that’s fine. I cannot picture this as easily in other demographics or sectors but as technologists, we can do this.
It’s a missed clearing list in terms of where the ship is heading as a project and entity?
The project is headed and this is very exciting for us to have Kaleidos as the project that will develop as many tools for cross-functional teams that rely on open source, and are meant to bridge the gap between code and design. It’s not like for the first time because that’s a very ego-driven sentence, but making sure that free and open-source software takes on the end-user and the design arena where the overlap between your end-users and developer and contribution ecosystem is more. Your user is now your developer and they probably even don’t care about open source. Benefiting from it? Sure. Understanding it? Less likely. Blender is a nice example or even WordPress make sure that end-users in other creative or backgrounds can access open source benefiting from transparency, governance and freedom without having to develop.
We’ve seen these when investors approached us because we got noticed. They said, “What is your category?” They have this chart and metrics. You see DevOps, databases, operating systems, frameworks. We say, “None of that.” We have to create our own category, which is designed tool, productivity or team collaboration. Historically, open source has sorted out what the open-source contributors have wanted to sort out, which is typically backend infrastructure, operating system and all that, which is fine. Kaleidos belongs to this generation of free and open-source enthusiasts that are also designers. That shift enables this new huge category of the type of tools. We want that to be first-class in open source.
It’s funny how there’s always been the meme being the year of Linux on the desktop. Suddenly you realize that there are four billion Linux kernels in the world on everyone’s phones. History even took that meme. I hadn’t considered that before.
It is completely understandable. I understand perfectly that you haven’t considered this level of depth. What is important to us is that once you think about it, you want it to happen. It is important for you. It’s relevant. Is nice to have or you see that it’s part of a bigger trend, open-source free and open source. It cannot be eaten from the deeper layers. It’s from beneath. It has to come from many angles and this is just another angle. This is the angle that we are comfortable with.
All the companies and organizations will come up with all the angles of attack. Kaleidos, just because of its nature, reaching that code, design mindset and open source, happens to be good at this. These are the type of tools that allow people to innovate, incubate, be creative and develop together. It looks like it’s very nice and exciting. Enabling other people to go for their full potential, making sure they don’t have to sacrifice their freedom while doing that is great. This is not like I want to be a criticism or anything, but the design community in general, in the first world are not aware of their privilege. You will sometimes hear, ”It doesn’t matter what tool you use. It matters what you create with it.” For some parts of the world, it matters what tools are available for you. Open source knows that. In order for this to make sense and to be successful, we need to make sure that both ends of the spectrum, people who don’t need it and who desperately need it, come together and see that this is great for everyone.
That’s been a truly fascinating episode. You are giving me a ton of stuff to think about. Thank you for your time and contribution to all of these projects. I’ll keep an eye on your progress with interest and enthusiasm because this is truly heartening to know.
We could have a follow-up in the future. I’m always happy and thankful for having this opportunity to get this measured out because it’s about the vision and the ideas that I would want to have, not just about the product itself. This was a great opportunity for me and the team on behalf of which I’m speaking. I was very comfortable. It’s a super friendly environment.
We’ll follow up in the future and see where we’re going to see. How many shredded copies of the SVG specification are around your house. Thank you. Take care.
About Pablo Ruiz-Múzquiz
I co-founded Kaleidos, a great hybrid between a technological partner for start-ups and an incubator for employees’ ideas (Taiga and Penpot being great examples). On a personal side, I love my trad archery/geek life with Angela and a bunch of great friends. I actively support public understanding of science, the fight against climate crisis, civil rights & feminism.