Engineering, Technical Program Management, and Co-Design

Harvard's Institute of Qualitative Social Science

Climate, abolition, and Afrofuturism in Harlem

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Pathways To Earthseed explores the experiences of Black residents in Harlem through an intersectional lens of climate, abolition, and Afrofuturism. This project is part of the inaugural Climate Justice Design Fellowship at Harvard’s Institute of Qualitative Social Science. This project explores the lived experience of Black people living in Harlem, how they engage with their natural environment and physical space, and what visions they have for the future.

Bocoup was excited to be a part of this brilliant and important project by handling technical project management, engineering, design, and implementation. We met with Pathways To Earthseed’s steward Dominique Thomas weekly to ensure that her vision could fully come to fruition.


The design is deeply influenced by Afrofuturism. As you navigate the site you’re forever under the watchful eye of the brilliant Earthseed creator, sci-fi author Octavia Butler. The resource rich pages slide through a color gradient to aid the evolution of the text’s story, and the story of Black Harlem. The walking tour portion of the site features custom software that we built specifically for the project. We were able to integrate our work with Web Maps to create smoother and more accessible maps to flesh out the and pinpoint the geographic scale of the project - from the vastness of the Black diaspora to illustrating gentrification in Harlem. An additional element of the project is a guided walking tour of Harlem. Using the embedded map and accompanying audio (or text if that’s your preference) you can explore Harlem “through the lens of climate justice, Afrofuturism, Black feminist ecological thought and abolition.”


Part of Dominique Thomas’s process was co-designing with Black residents of Harlem, and continuing to include their input and oral histories. The project is continually unfolding as we experience the past, present, and future at the same time. Environmental racism is still an underanalyzed aspect of the climate justice movement, and Thomas’s incredible analysis of climate catastrophe and white supremacy’s impact on just one borough is an incredible demonstration of the centuries of damage once hidden and now brought to light – and a brilliant model of how to tell these stories and take action.

a pink and purple background with the word
a screenshot of the Walking Tour. Main text reads:

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