What is this?
Moving Day will be the home for regular posts, photos, contributions from readers, and other items from me. I’m Susan Crawford. It’s a common name, so make sure you’ve landed on the page for the right one. (I get a lot of misdirected emails for my fellow Susan Crawfords.)
I write books and teach at Harvard Law School. I’m on my third or fourth career, depending how you count. I’ve been a partner in a DC law firm (Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering, now WilmerHale); taught at a number of universities; was once a White House staffer; and specialized in technology policy. I’ve been an active musician all my life. Recently I’ve shifted to climate adaptation policy, a field that needs a better, less Latinate, brand. I’m focused on how governments, working with many other institutions, can help people lead thriving lives as the climate changes rapidly. The throughline of my work is an abiding interest in the role of government.
I grew up in Santa Monica, California. I’ve lived for extended periods in Brooklyn, Los Angeles, Manhattan, Ann Arbor, and Cambridge MA. I am now based in Washington D.C.
I have been a columnist for Bloomberg View, Backchannel, and Wired. A list of my books is below. The most recent of them is Charleston: Race, Water, and the Coming Storm, which grew out of years of interviews I did in Charleston, SC. (NYT review)
Why Moving Day?
The Charleston project convinced me that every level of the US government needs to focus on the gigantic problem of planning ahead for the departure of millions of people from coastal areas over the next few decades as the waters rise with extraordinary velocity. One label for this issue is “managed retreat,” but, like “climate adaptation,” that’s a lackluster brand. In particular, “retreat” is not something Americans pride themselves on doing.
I’m interested in relocation, so “moving” is an important term for me. I won’t be writing only about that subject, though. I’ll write about what local governments are up to, infrastructure, books I’m reading, the role of the private sector in climate finance, the emergence of power structures that are hidden in plain sight, and whatever else seems vital in any particular week. “Moving Day” signals that it’s time, right now, to get to work on many levels. It’s an intentional and not wholly optimistic signal.
Long before I was a columnist I had a blog. I posted many times a week for years. People commented and wrote back. This was 20 years ago, when online back-and-forth was still new, and I loved it. The practice of frequent writing, responding, and learning in public became central to my intellectual life. Since then, I’ve focused on longer-form projects, many of which have taken years to be revealed. The blogginess of Substack is attractive now that the effects on human lives being caused by increasing heat are becoming visible so quickly. I want these posts to be both clear and reflective, because I know we are living through a fundamental transition in human society.
It’s also a time of transition in my own life. I spent years writing about technology, and particularly about internet access, and now I’m in a new field. I am very interested in being helpful to that field, and I very much want to hear from you.
Do I have to pay to subscribe?
No. Subscriptions and access to these twice-weekly posts will be free. Your support and interest are important to me, and if you value it and can afford a paid subscription at any level, please click the subscribe button and choose one of the paid options. Feel free to forward posts widely, and if you are reading this “about” page because someone shared a post with you, please sign up. The newsletter will come directly to your inbox.
With any luck at all, this will be a growing community interested in informed discussion about a crucial set of climate-related topics.
To find out more about the company that provides the tech for this newsletter, visit Substack.com.
Here are books that I have written, listed from most to least recent:
The Responsive City: Engaging Communities Through Data-Smart Governance (with Stephen Goldsmith)