Advice for joining the climate justice movement

Advice for joining the climate justice movement from Cynthia Kaufman, author of The Sea is Rising and so are We: a Climate Justice Handbook.

I would encourage anyone wanting to do this work to find a group to work with. 

We need to join with others and use our collective power to get institutions to change from a business-as-usual course. The work can be slow, and it requires us to think strategically about what will make a difference. And for many people it is a new way of being in the world and it can stretch us out of our comfort zones.  

There are several organizations that have a national organization with local semi-autonomous hubs. In most cases you can join a hub or start one. 

For young people wanting to work on the Green New Deal: 

You can join Sunrise Movement:

A broader youth group is For more Or Earth Guardians:

For those interested in direct action, you can join Extinction Rebellion has groups all around the world and they focus a lot on policy shifts

Fridays for the Future does a lot of street actions

Stop the Money Pipeline is calling for direct action to confront banks and other financial institutions to get them to end financing for fossil fuels.

There are many organizations working on shifting how the places we live function, but I’m not aware of any climate based national organizations coordinating that work, instead you need to search for local initiatives. 

Many organizations fighting for better biking go under the name Critical Mass

The Mayor’s Institute on City Design has great resources on projects to try to make happen where you live, but I don’t know of any go to national organization.

Much of the exciting climate justice action is happening now is at the level of state and local policies. This is an area that most people don’t know much about and that many people are cynical about because it has rarely been a fruitful place for grassroots activism. But we are in a very special moment where this work is crucial and where it is possible to make a real significant difference. In every state in the country there are is state level legislation that needs to be supported, or that needs to be opposed, and there are groups to join to learn how to do that work. 

Right now there are many unions that are doing important work to achieve the goals of the Green New Deal. And there are many unions that are allied with their bosses in opposition those goals. If you are in a union, work to ensure your union is doing all it can for the climate. 

One organizing slogan I like is “to change everything start anywhere.” I think that applies to the climate crisis. Everywhere we turn there are institutions that are enabling the extractive economy and there is work being done to build a just and sustainable world. Find your people and dig in where it seems the most productive and joyful to you. 

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