Whether you are a seasoned anti-coal activist or a first-time organiser, here is a simple guide to get you started.
Not all these steps may apply to you, but these are some ideas to help you on your way to planning a creative, engaging, and powerful action to make fossil fuels history in your community or city!
1. Bring together a coordinating team
Johannesburg, South Africa– May 12-14, 2016 Photo: Leeroy Jason
Bring together a core team of people with the necessary skills or expertise that you require for your action. Think about how you are trying to grow the local movement, and in which direction. Remember to involve partner organisations who can either be part of your core team or will be tactical allies with whom you share ideas and information.
2. Invite People to join you
Emalahleni, Mpumalanga, South Africa. Photo: Leeroy Jason
Invite your friends, neighbours, and local organisations to assist in organising, mobilising their members and participating in the action. Reach out to any local church, mosque, synagogue, or other religious institution, labour/trade union, sports team, university, or arts cooperative that would be interested in getting involved in the issue.
3. Plan with your team
Bori, Ogoni, Rivers State, Nigeria. Photo: Babawale Obayanju
Decide on your desired outcome, target, impacts focus, the action and your narrative.
Groups and campaigns are strongest when they regularly communicate about why they are invested in this work. Climate change communications often suffer from being about other people and events far away or too big: all these increase the likelihood that your audience will disconnect from the story.
As part of the Break Free Mobilisation, people across the continent will be talking about how climate change has impacted something important to them, as a means to create connections to the bigger trends and impacts of climate change, and the need to break ties with the fossil fuel industry.
Take care of all logistical details as soon as you can, including the timing of the action, directions, transportation, bathrooms, sound system, permits for use of public spaces, and any legal briefings or training (eg. in direct action) if you need them. You can contact the deCOALonise team for support and advice.
5. Spread the Word
Make a plan to reach out. Set a goal for how many people you’d like to see at the event and try to create a plan for reaching far more than that number. Ensure that you register your event. Invite and link up with partner organisations interested in your action. Talking to schools, religious groups, community meetings, putting up posters around town, sending emails through listservs, getting a public service announcement on the local radio, share on social media, send out emails, write editorials for local newspapers, get on community calendars, ask organisations to include the action information in newsletters and bulletins and put up posters all over town.
6. Create your visuals
An image can be worth a thousand words. Think about how you can clearly show your narrative in a single image or phrase. This will make sure that everyone who sees your action, including the media, hear exactly what you are trying to say.
How can you represent the impact you are trying to highlight? Think about showing what is not there (such as snow, water, or crops) as well as what is there. Use these climate impact stencils to make t-shirts, placards or banners.
How can you represent your target? Can you change their corporate logo or slogan to show the impacts they are having on your community? Think dinosaurs to represent the dirty, old fossil fuels of the past.
How can you show who is being affected? How can you visualise who are the most affected sectors of your community? Sometimes a single person’s story can speak for a whole community’s experience – whose story are you trying to tell?
How can you articulate the world you wish to see? Show the alternatives to centralized fossil fuel-infrastructure by focusing on community-owned wind turbines and solar panels.
Banners and signs with the local equivalent of ‘Break Free From Climate Impacts!’ (add the name of the institution you’re calling on to divest, or the particular fossil fuel plant you’re targeting instead of “climate impacts”) can help to unify the Break Free Mobilisation’s actions and show we are unified global movement. Lastly, include the colour ORANGE – the unifying colour of the Fossil Free movement.
7. Inform the Media
It’s important to contact local, state, and national media to make sure they report on Break Free Mobilisation actions in your area. Think about what print, radio, television, and online sources you’d want to have to cover your event and start getting in touch now! Here is a media kit with additional ideas and sample texts you can use for guidance.
8. Take Action
Johannesburg, South Africa. Photo: Leeroy Jason
The weeks of planning culminate at this moment! Share your photos on Facebook and other social media such as Twitter and Instagram with the #BreakFree2018 and #fossilfree hashtags. Also, send it to your friends and press contacts. Have a fun and meaningful day, knowing that you’re part of a rapidly growing continental effort creating the pressure and momentum needed to solve the climate crisis. Aim to use earth-friendly products and materials, and to leave a positive footprint.
Remember to celebrate with your group, and to plan a next meeting to debrief the action and discuss next steps.
9. Report Back
This part is very important: As soon as your action is over, be sure to select your best photo, video footage and written stories from your action and email them to firstname.lastname@example.org. This will enable the communications team to deliver the strongest possible message to the media and to the world’s decision makers.