Last night I dialed sixteen numbers, put my ear-up to the phone and heard the voices of one Mike Brune (Executive Director or Sierra Club), one Phil Radford (Executive Director of Greenpeace) and more than 75 inspiring youth organizers. What magic movement hotline was I on, you ask? No shame I’ll tell ya: it was none other than the “100 Actions for 100% Clean Energy” kick-off call.
9PM sharp and the business started. Howling regional shout outs followed by a task: More than 100 student-led aggressive actions for clean energy nationwide.
Why us? Students have always led social movements: think women’s rights, civil rights, and the anti-war movement. Every major social revolution has been led and driven by young people; it’s time for the green movement to be added to that list.
What kind of actions are we looking for? Well sure as hell not petitions. Do something BIG, LOUD, get everyone’s attention. Flash mobs, die ins, sit-ins, overflow the president’s voicemail asking the same question: “what date will you be shutting down the coal plant?” Think of Powershift, the sentencing of Tim DeChristopher and, most recently, the Tar Sands Action. Now’s the time that people are willing to step up and take bold action. Give them a vehicle to pour that energy into.
Some tricks to keep up your sleeve from two guys who really know their organizing:
Phil says: Never lose your sense of humor. We’re talking about some serious stuff—the greatest extinction since the dinosaurs. Be a normal likeable person and people are bound to join you. Also, take the time to think about what’s really effective—how do you put pressure on the right people? Who are the right messengers? Collect those folks within your community and convince them to do something peaceful.
Mike says: Listen to what your people care about, what their concerns are. The work that we’re doing is all encompassing, so there’s a lot of angles from which to approach your audience: economic competitiveness, national security or climate change straight up. Design an approach to meet the community’s specific needs.
The pandemonium starts October 1st at Virginia Powershift and from then on, it’s up to us. Sign up here to create a national story about local actions that can be directly delivered to our leaders in Washington at the end of the month. Ensure that the next big question on Air Force One has to deal with the ever-growing strength of the youth climate movement. As Phil Radford said last night “great presidents will only be great leaders if there are great movements pushing them.”
- Abbie Rogers is the Greenpeace Student Board Online Social Networking Coordinator