The Skywriter

Building a climate movement to rival the power of dirty coal


Building a climate movement to rival the power of dirty coal

Boston Storms Congressional Offices: Movement Building.

I recently attended the 2011 Good Jobs Green Jobs National Conference, and I was struck by a number of things. The first thing was the attendance – we were filled to capacity! As an organizer, however, what really got me was the intense focus on movement building from all involved – panel speakers, moderators, and participants alike.

We are beginning to realize that our strength lies in our numbers, and that we need to get organized! I knew that’s what we were doing here at 1Sky, but it was hugely inspiring and empowering to hear that goal echoed across the community.

EPA Director Lisa Jackson opened the event by speaking about the huge job potential in the Clean Air Act and its amazing history of spurring investment and innovation in clean energy tech. The real excitement for me came from a full panel on coalition building.

The panel was packed with experience, with representatives from the Blue-Green Alliance, Common Cause, Alliance for Justice, the Strategic Campaign Center, and even the Communications Workers of America. For those of you who couldn’t make it, here were some of the key points I took away:

  1. We should build coalitions and movements because we need to build power.
  2. Movements are about getting people together and keeping them together.
  3. Movements need to be built around simple principals – why we should work together.
  4. We need to recognize the urgency of our issue.
  5. Movements work when there is mutual interest and intensity amongst constituents (see point 4)

The good news is this: The community is together and on the right track. We know that in order to fight back against corporate polluter dollars in politics, to protect the environmental regulations we already have (like the Clean Air Act), and to build the mindset needed for real and meaningful change at the national level, we must build our collective power. The bad news is that big polluters, like dirty coal, that profit from the ability to spew unlimited toxic chemicals like carbon pollution, arsenic, lead and mercury into our air are fighting hard to put their interests above those of the American people.

I see that as our call to action. Do we step aside and let their dirty money dictate the health of our environment and families for the foreseeable future, or do we step up, organize ourselves, and fight back? They might have the money, but we have the boots on the ground.

We’re building teams across the country that are in it to win it – whatever that may take. We all know that we can’t do it alone, and nothing builds more power than unity and working hand in hand with like-minded organizations and people the world-over. I talk to our many community leaders and volunteers on the ground on a daily basis, and I am constantly blown away by the intensity and commitment we share.

Good Jobs Green Jobs, thanks for confirming that building a movement is what it’s going to take to halt man-made climate change in its tracks, and thanks for confirming that we’re well on our way to do exactly that.

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