Listening for the ‘I’ in infrastructure (and community) repair

Benedetta Piantella, Alex Nathanson, Tega Brain, Kayla Desportes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Infrastructure work and maintenance are forms of care work as they involve the upkeep and repair of systems that sustain communities. We explore a global experiment of digital infrastructure stewardship and collective imagination called Solar Protocol: a network of solar-powered servers distributed around the globe. Through Sam, a dedicated maintenance worker in the Kalinago Territory in Dominica, we examine a journey through renewable energy technologies and community infrastructure in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. The Solar Protocol network was created as a provocation and social invitation into collective stewardship and into rethinking planetary limits and environmental rhythms as creative opportunities rather than constraints. By using the Listening Guide (LG), a qualitative and relational research method focused on uncovering how people navigate human experiences, we explore the emotional aspects, challenges and motivations associated with caring for and with infrastructure. We demonstrate how the LG sheds light on the nuanced and complex emotional landscape of individuals and communities involved in digital stewardship work.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)101-106
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Environmental Media
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2023


  • Listening Guide
  • climate event
  • community tech
  • infrastructure stewardship
  • interdependence
  • maintenance and care
  • resilience
  • solar-powered media

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • General Environmental Science
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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