Roots Camp, right after the election was a pretty overwhelming experience.
One space + a whole bunch of passionate 'progressive organizers' x attempting to simultaneously (recover from campaigns + process what a Trump presidency means for their causes + figure out what to do next) = chaos (mostly positive).
The upshot is that everyone is still trying to figure out what to do, but no one is backing down. Here are some of my main takeaways:
- The next four years are going to be critical for stopping manmade climate change if we want to avoid catastrophic, irreversible global impacts.
- We should all watch: Before the Flood; & Years of Living Dangerously
- There are tons of newly energized people. We need to get them plugged in to real action and keep waking people up to the fact that this administration is NOT NORMAL so they don’t go back to being disengaged.
- Management training is really important for field organizers. So is establishing a culture (& standards) that support self care to avoid burnout. Overworked, overtired people don’t deliver peak performance and DO burn out and leave teams and causes.
- Loosing executive support for climate action is a big deal. National movements are going to be defensive (and urgent!), we need to also get offensive at the local and state level.
- Many opportunities for resistance to fossil fuels: Point of destruction, point of production, point of consumption
- There are local/regional fights & orgs for almost every cause, they aren’t always easy to discover
- strategies need to get creative & aggressive
- Storytelling and visual documentation are incredibly powerful. People don’t connect to statistics.
- The environmental movement has an image problem. It can read as privileged or fringe, but we will need to dramatically broaden our base if we want to make progress despite a Trump presidency and a congress full of climate change deniers.
- It’s important to explicitly articulate an inclusive vision for the environmental movement. (org mission/vision statements etc.)
- We all need to reach out to new allies & bring in groups that have been alienated by the traditional environmental movement.
- Build relationships first: Identify the core values of the community you are reaching out to and find common ground before describing environmental threats or making asks
- Find community leaders who resonate with the cause you are championing
- Tone is important: don’t assume people are less informed than you or unreceptive to your message > let them teach you
- Offer solutions and opportunities for collaboration tailored to who you are speaking to
- Know and make the economic argument
- DIVEST from the problem and break up with your megabank - do you know what your money is doing while it is earning interest?
- Solidarity is critical
- SHOW UP for other orgs (marches, calls & creative tactics etc.)
- LISTEN & support existing movements and organizations
- No member of a marginalized group wants to be asked to constantly represent that group all the time. You have google. Use it.
- Allies educate themselves & advocate to others, they take real action and don’t assume they know everything.
- Transgender people are one of the most marginalized groups in all workplaces (organizing included). The National LGBTQ Task Force released an best practices report to help employers go beyond legal obligations to eliminate discrimination in hiring and create inclusive work environments. You can find it here.
Outside of the conference, James and I really enjoyed getting to briefly catch up with my cousin George and his girlfriend Morgan, and my cousin Neal and his wife Sandy. They’re awesome and inspiring people and we’re incredibly grateful that they let us sleep in their guest rooms on fairly short notice. It was also really fun to compare recipe stories with Neal & Sandy. Although we work from rather different staple ingredient lists, we share a lot of kitchen gear and a similar attitude towards meals as art and celebration.
* we failed to take any pictures in DC so the cover is from the women's march on Houston ... ages later