Principles & Processes

Replenishing trust: Civil society’s guide to reversing the trust deficit

Trust-building is actions aligned to values — it’s not just communicating about what matters, but doing it. Trust for institutions across society is declining. This growing trust deficit is a serious problem: It erodes a high-functioning pluralistic democracy, compromises public health and makes it impossible to solve collective problems like climate change. Trust doesn’t just happen. American civil society institutions have an important role to play in increasing trust — which is necessary to create the kind of world we all want to live in.

The Momentum Model: A Living Model for Hybrid Organizing

The Momentum model is a synthesis of best practices from diverse sources including: research from the field of civil resistance, social movement theory, labor and community organizing, organic systems theory, and the long history of socialist strategy as well as through on-the-ground experimentation within our own community of practice. Momentum sees itself as descendants and students of social movements from around the world, such as the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, the Civil Rights movement in the US, the Color Revolutions in Eastern Europe, and decolonization efforts throughout the Global South. Momentum trains and supports organizers in a living model to build social movements that change public opinion and institutionalize wins on the most pressing justice issues of our time. This living model contains foundational frameworks and practices as well as core tools to deploy based on a particular movement context.

The Kernel: A Tool for Developing Good Strategy (and Avoiding Bad Strategy)

The Sunrise Movement successfully relied on the “strategy kernel for campaigning.” The kernel involves three elements: a diagnosis that defines or explains the nature of the challenge, a guiding policy for dealing with the challenge, and a set of coherent actions that are designed to carry out the guiding policy. The Sunrise Movement used the kernel by convening the leadership team for a meeting to discuss each layer of the kernel; usually, a small team then took responsibility for completing the kernel, providing overarching direction for our shared work. In strategy work for movements, this resource’s author has been part of many conversations that began instead with deliberating the third layer of the kernel—the actions the group should take—and ended up spiraling into disagreement. The #ChangeTheDebate campaign in the spring and summer of 2019 is an example of how Sunrise used the kernel: Diagnosis—a central challenge is that the Green New Deal (GND) is polarized and presidential candidates are not talking about it because of the strategic narrative attacks from Fox/right-wing media; Guiding Policy—the movement must force presidential candidates to publicly and boldly talk about the GND in the media; Coherent Actions—launch the campaign will compelling visuals, host debate watch parties across the movement, catalyze a centralized mass action, birddog Biden and other candidates, and run a targeted, escalated action demanding time during the debate devoted to climate.

Blueprint for a Multiracial, Cross-Class Climate Movement: The Workbook for Coalitions

This workbook is meant to help you translate the analysis and recommendations we provide there into workable features of your organizing. Whether you’re currently involved in a multiracial, cross-class climate coalition, thinking about starting one, or evaluating a past coalition on reflection, we hope this workbook clarifies for you and your coalition partners the breadth of considerations and decisions you should be prepared for.

Blueprint for a Multiracial, Cross-Class Climate Movement: The Report on Coalitions

Multiracial, cross-class (MRXC) coalition-building is essential if the climate movement is serious about tackling the climate crisis at the scale it demands. However, a historical lack of collaboration, trust, or healthy mechanisms to deal with conflict often impair those efforts. This Blueprint report and accompanying workbook provide an analysis of the difficulties MRXC climate coalitions are likely to face and offer recommendations for a proposed path forward.

Supporting grassroots justice-oriented activists around the world: A year’s worth of learnings

The emerging picture of the most-often cited challenges grassroots groups are facing currently includes: 1) Help with building intersectional narratives and coalitions to link struggles together; 2) Activist safety & security in repressive environments; 3) Maintaining activist engagement and working together efficiently in groups; 4) How to secure funding for grassroots organizing and how to report impact; 5) How to build effective strategy within non-hierarchical structures; 6) Managing burnout among activist communities & collective care. The Global Grassroots Support Network is a collection of 84 seasoned grassroots organizers, campaigners, coaches and more. The Network supports struggles for climate justice, reproductive justice, LGBTQIAS+ rights, housing justice and workers’ rights. These members currently come from: Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Kenya, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Spain, Tanzania, Turkey, Uganda, the U.S., UK and Zimbabwe. If you’re excited by the mission of supporting grassroots justice-oriented activists, the Network has lots of room for new members and you can commit the amount of time that is accessible to you, and the input that supports your mission.

Nuts and Bolts for Building Resilient Organizations

These are the skills that leaders need to develop in order to build resilient organizations. Humility: A culture of humility lowers everyone’s blood pressure, providing the key foundation for people to be able to work through their differences together. Self-discipline: Self-discipline builds power at scale. Imposed discipline occasionally has its place (firings, etc.), but anything held together only through imposed discipline will be a lot smaller, more fragile, and less powerful than an adaptable, decentralized organization with self-disciplined leaders. To create self-disciplined leaders, we emphasize the skills of simplicity, habits, and joy. Love: It’s valuing people for who they are, seeing the best in them, and figuring out how to integrate people together into mutually beneficial relationships.

Get Up, Stand Up: What Actions Move the Needle?

The climate movement has recently tried more disruptive direct action tactics. Some of these include protests by the group Just Stop Oil throwing soup in famous art and the movie How to Blow Up a Pipeline. Sociologist Dana R. Fisher argues that these tactics generally can have the effect of mobilizing more people to join movements (not persuading people in the middle. Further, more research is needed to understand the various political effects of direct action tactics. The intensifying effects of the climate crisis have grown the climate movement, and its focus has changed to more material effects on people’s lives. A diversity of tactics is necessary for movements to create lasting change. Rose Abramoff, a climate scientist, protested lack of climate action and eventually lost her research job because of it. Ilana Cohen, cofounder of Fossil Free Research and leader of Divest Harvard, helped push Harvard to divest from fossil fuel investments. Cohen argue that persistently organizing with creative tactics helped the campaign win.