Blog 10: Environmental/Social Series – Knowledge + History + Movements

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Following will be a short discussion on topics that could take up several books. They are noted this way because it is difficult for a person to be involved in any type of movement without knowing the background and history of what is being promoted.  It is necessary, for example, that we obtain the information behind the reasons hate groups believe what they do and why they are so committed to its cause.  Are they just blind followers or believers of the doctrine and aware of its history and its beliefs.  Understanding this type of knowledge is necessary to obtain in order to keep it from spreading.  Another example is the internet article “Why are protests in Hong Kong?  All the context you need.” (BBC)  Knowing the history of Hong Kong explains why they are occurring and by who.

The same applies for anyone joining a movement.  You have to learn what the movement stands for (its principals) and the history behind it.  There may be other movements closer to you with some of the same principals and easier to join but lacking the same commitments.  This is just one of the many factors to consider.  The type of people joining (or friends that you know) can be part of your decision making process.  The main thing is that you enjoy the group and would work hard to make a positive contribution with it.  This decision would be determined in part by the work you do in obtaining knowledge and history of various movements.

Bill McKibben in Falter noted that humans in general believe in humanity.  He feels that two technologies could keep people from destroying themselves and they are the solar panel and the other is nonviolent movements.  Both are transformative and the power they wield is human in scale.  The beauty is that they can be found in every country and members can be any color, age or creed.  Hopefully, even the children in the picture can have a chance to speak out against poverty, but better still offer solutions that only they can design.  Our system has to change to give them better opportunities in life so they can work to improve themselves through their own labors.  Presently the indigenous people have the most sustainable and self-sufficient societies throughout the world but are generally ignored.

A movement can start with one person with an idea and/or a commitment to a belief in that movement.  You can talk to other people about what you would like to see accomplished within the movement (or your idea).  Then this idea or movement could spread or be associated with another movement.  With the problems of government and no action on climate change something has to be done.   The article “Will More Climate Strikes Achieve the Breakthrough That We Need” describes some actions that need to take place. They note that substantial research shows that we need to arouse anger, empathy and hope in order to counter fatalism.  It provides excellent descriptions of actions that could be taken.

Bill McKibben has written a small article “What is the Climate Movement’s State of Play?” He originated 350.org with just himself and seven undergraduates. They found people who wanted to act, so in their first big action. In 2008, they managed to coordinate 5,100 simultaneous demonstrations in 181 countries. CNN called it the most widespread day of political action in the planet’s history. From that time they have gone to organize 20,000 such rallies. They have a staff of 120 spread around the world.

Another article by Otto Scharmer “As Systems Collapse, People Rise: Seven Faces of an Emerging  Global Movement.” (Medium). He describes in this article “seven faces” or aspects of a shift in global awareness and the youth-led movement that is taking shape now.  He has developed the Presencing Institute platform for helping teams move their ideas into action through the Societal Transformation Lab (u.lab-S).  They have involved more than 130,000 registered users across 186 countries.  It can be found on www.ottoscharmer.com.

Information like this can be found on Resilience and Peak Prosperity Weekly and both are well worth reading.  Many of the articles I use come from these sources.

The article “How movements can use drama to Seize the Public Imagination.” Drama can be used to get attention but it must be used carefully or it can wear out the audience. The Sunrise Movement is one example of using drama to get attention when it was promoting the New Green Deal. Another example was the Quaker Action Group or AQAG used a sailing ship to carry medical supplies to the North Vietnamese during the war.

“Moving from Resistance to Repair” shows we can start healing the earth now instead of waiting for the climate movement to get ratified. Using Permaculture now to restore the soils and sequester carbon would be one example. It would be one method of earth repair. Groups could use ideas like this to establish causes that could be useful now.

Kevin Buckland wrote the article “Organizing Cultures of Resistance: Activism in the Anthropocene.” The Anthropocene is the period we are living in now. Kevin engages art as a tool for enabling change. This interview is an attempt to cast a wide glance at the different strains of organizing cultures that are emerging inside the global movement for climate justice. This is a series of essays about the subject of climate change using art. Kevin Buckland is an artist, artivist organizer and the “Arts Ambassador” for the grassroots global network 350.org. He has worked with the International Youth Climate Network to promote creative communication and beauty in the call for climate justice across the globe. Harkening on the call to “make this movement as beautiful as the planet we are fighting to save,” he employs comedy, tragedy, farce, satire and a great deal of cardboard in his attempts to end empire and globalize justice. Videos, writings and participatory projects can be seen on his website. http://www.ctriartshift.org

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The following information is from an article in Yes magazine ” A Climate Action for Every Type of Activist”. It starts out by mentioning the group U.S. Climate Action Network. They list on their website over 175 member organizations and this does not include all the environmental groups out there. They also have designed a strategic plan.

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Other groups discussed in the magazine are:

Citizen’s Climate Lobby, It has a bipartisan, non-confrontational style suiting the author. It tries to get support on both sides of the aisle. It has a single legislative goal – to see a fee placed on carbon, with the proceeds returned to the citizens as dividends.

The Alliance for Climate Education. It offers educational and interactive resources that can be streamed to high school classrooms. It also fights anti-science policies.

350.org. This organization has been discussed earlier. It goes to the streets and one example was it fight against the XL pipeline.

Moms Clean Air Force. This is a million strong organization. They work with politicians togged them to recognize climate change and they bring their children with them to do this.

Hip Hop Caucus. They embrace hip hop and they take a holistic approach to problems linking culture and policy.

The Sunrise Movement. The Sunrise Movement targets ages 14 to 35 for its membership. The group is growing fast and they just opened 100 new hubs within 2 months after November. It wants to make climate change a priority across the country.

Evangelical Environmental Network. The membership is mainly evangelical Christians. They are more conservative than traditional environmentalists so they can reach a different market.

Wikipedia has lists of environmental groups in every country and is guaranteed to keep you occupied in order to see how strong the various groups are and their methods of working. If you live here and born in another country it would be valuable information for donating. Bearfoot Theory has a list of 31 environmental and conservation groups mainly in the U.S. This could go on and on, but gives you an idea as how to proceed in this process. In my book, Toward Self-Sufficiency I list over 300 books on subjects relating to sustainability. The main thing is for everyone to get active and help save ourselves and Mother Earth.

-George Hunt