organizing

An open letter to all people and organizations working to combat global warming

6
Aug
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This open letter was originally published on August 6, 2010 in response to the Senate's failure to pass climate legislation. Please share it widely and you haven't already, consider making a generous tax-deductible donation to 1Sky, then tell your friends and family to do the same. -- Gillian.

From members of the 1Sky Board of Directors: Jessica Bailey, KC Golden, Bracken Hendricks, Bill McKibben, Billy Parish, Vicky Rateau, Gus Speth and Betsy Taylor

As we find ourselves surrounded by the tatters of the climate debate in the U.S. Congress, it seems fitting to take a moment to step back and ponder where we go from here. While the blogosphere is buzzing with assignments of blame for the failure of the Senate to act, we are much more concerned about how we move forward with urgency and clarity of purpose. Unfortunately, we do not have the luxury to pack our bags and go home as the Senate did only moments ago. We just staggered through the hottest six months in recorded history worldwide. People everywhere are being impacted by the damage we have done through decades of carbon loading, and it is clear that our ailing planet will not sit idly by as our political leaders have done.

In reflecting, we find ourselves returning to the founding principles of 1Sky when we formed in 2007: We must redouble our efforts to unite American society across all divides in an unyielding call for action on the scope and scale of the enormous challenge and opportunity we are confronting. We are galvanized by the understanding that the political, human rights and economic repercussions of climate change transcend the ‘environmental issue’ label, and present a nation-wide challenge requiring a unified response. As United States citizens, we understand our moral and ethical responsibility to act with resolve – both as members of a global community, and as the leading per capita emitters of global warming pollution. We must succeed in building a nationwide movement that changes the politics of what is possible to deliver what is necessary; our very lives depend on it.

The central aspirations of our campaign as embodied in the 1Sky Solutions which have been endorsed by more than 600 allied organizations nationwide continue as our north star:

  • Reduce global warming pollution at least 35 percent below current levels by 2020, and at least 80 percent by 2050.
  • Create 5 million green jobs and pathways out of poverty by rebuilding and refueling America with a comprehensive energy efficiency mobilization including immediate investment in a clean-energy infrastructure.
  • Re-power America by imposing a moratorium on new coal plants that emit global warming pollution and replacing dirty fuels such as coal and oil with 100 percent renewable energy.

But what lessons can we learn from the last three years, years in which the advocacy for action on climate change was better funded and coordinated than ever before? We all had high hopes, and the debate was closer to center stage than it has ever been. But in the end, we are left largely empty-handed.

We feel it is imperative to pause, ask tough questions about what went wrong and why we as a community failed to achieve our aspirations, and – more importantly - to look carefully at what is most needed given the new legislative and political landscape. Toward this end, we are holding a retreat in mid-November with key allies, organizers, 1Sky staff and board, but also with leaders from other sectors to help us see in fresh ways, and to explore what role 1Sky can best play as we move into the next chapter.

As we prepare for the strategic discussions we will be having, six key lessons strike us as salient and worth offering now for discussion and debate. We don’t pretend to have the answers, but we are committed to grappling with the tough questions and to road-testing solutions. Our thoughts at this time:

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Organizing tip: shadowing your senators in August

3
Aug
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By 1Sky intern Amy Plovnick. -- Luis

If, like me, you are frustrated and angry that the Senate has failed to pass legislation to address the climate crisis, you might be wondering what you can do about it. Clearly, senators need to hear that it is unacceptable that they did not address the biggest challenge of our time. We need to use grassroots pressure to show our senators that they must do their job on climate – and if they don’t, they will risk facing the consequences. But how can we deliver this message?

One way to put pressure on elected officials is through shadowing them at town halls, candidate forums, and other public events. Shadowing, also known as bird-dogging, involves going to public (and sometimes private) events and asking elected officials questions that will get them to take a strong position on climate or expose their lack of effort on the issue. Throughout the August congressional recess, when members of Congress return to their districts, 1Sky volunteers will be asking them to rise above the influence of Dirty Coal and Big Oil and do their job to address climate change.

Here are some tips for making your shadowing event successful, based on the experiences of 1Sky volunteers:

  • Shadowing is a team effort: A successful shadowing squad involves more than one person asking a difficult but relevant question to their elected official. There are plenty of other ways to be involved in an essential way, such as by contacting the media before the event, making signs, recruiting people, and documenting the event. Which brings me to…
  • Take pictures and video: Recording the event is critical for getting the word out, especially if the elected official says something notorious like this:




    So make sure that you have people assigned to record and photograph the question being asked and the senator’s answer, as well as your group with signs and props. To capture a great, compelling photo, remember to…
  • Use visuals! This August, we will be using the visual of oily hands to convey the scope of our addiction to fossil fuels and show the influence of dirty energy money in Congress. You can also make large signs that convey your message. Make sure that the person or people you have designated to ask the question are not holding signs or visuals, as it might make the elected official less likely to listen to them. When you do get to ask a question…
  • Be assertive, and don’t be afraid to follow up. Practice asking the question beforehand so you feel confident about it. If there is a limited amount of time, be assertive so that you have the opportunity to ask your question. If the elected official tries to give an easy answer ( “I support clean energy”), ask a follow-up question to get them to take a strong position on the issue (“What will you do to make sure that we transition to a clean energy economy and don’t invest in new coal-fired power plants?”).

If you follow these suggestions and come up with creative ideas of your own, your shadowing event is sure to be a success. By keeping the heat on our elected officials, we can turn our anger into action, and our action into a reality in which Congress comes to its senses and addresses climate change.

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"Hands Across the Sand" a huge success -- thanks to you!

2
Jul
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By 1Sky intern Florencia Foxley. -- Luis

All we’ve heard about this week here at 1Sky are fantastic stories of the 50-plus Hands Across the Sand events from this Saturday. The creativity and dedication that went into these events is truly impressive. Our folks in the field really went all out! It’s no wonder that Hands Across the Sand, as an international effort, was a success. Here's a slideshow with some picture we've been receiving from events all over the country:

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Organizing Tip #5: Make your visuals memorable

13
May
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Nothing screams fun at an event more than having bright and memorable visuals. These can also help to distinguish your action and organization to potential new volunteers and the press. The great thing about visuals is you don’t have to be an artistic, barefoot college student with windswept hair pulling all-nighters to design them (although you get extra points if you meet those criteria). Nor do you need to have a professional photographer nearby to convey how great they are. Anyone can do these!

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Senate climate champ's office welcomes "The Storm" in Colorado

2
Apr
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By 1Sky Colorado organizer Micah Parkin. -- Luis

On Wednesday, 1Sky, 10 allied organizations, and more than 50 activists politely “stormed” Senator Michael Bennet’s Denver office to urge him to fight back against congressional efforts to gut the Clean Air Act. Representatives of the groups stated their concerns and urged Senator Bennet to make a public commitment to fight to defend and uphold the Clean Air Act, delivering a poster-sized joint request letter signed by all of "The Storm" participants and group leaders.

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