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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 Anger Monitor helps harness and redirect anger for positive impact. MindWorks measures the changing quality and quantity of anger to help advocates and organizers understand and leverage this emotion in campaigns. Anger can be destructive, often exploited by populists or extremists for their own agendas. However, it can also be constructive. Many historic social movements were built on anger.
Eco-anxiety is present for young Americans and young people around the world. Youth are turning this anxiety into activism. UK climate protesters went to prison after blocking roads and oil terminals. Just Stop Oil activists hurled soup at famous paintings. This guide describes other examples like these. (See pages 38-39 of the guide for the climate focus.)
In the spring of 2020, Sunrise Movement had a goal of making 300,000 phonebank calls on six congressional primary races. Sunrise decided to create volunteer teams to manage other volunteers, liaise with campaigns, set goals, and develop strategy. The volunteer leaders of these teams took on a level of responsibility and autonomy typically reserved for staff. The team members took responsibility for setting goals, creating strategy and tactics, liaising with campaigns, and managing the work of thousands of other volunteers.
A broad current of the US Left has been practicing the “inside/outside” strategy—building powerful organizations and protest movements outside the halls of power, while also electing champions to work the inside game. This episode features a panel on the inside/outside strategy hosted by Momentum and moderated by Hegemonicon host William Lawrence. The panel asks: What have we learned about bridging the outside and the inside? How close are we to our goal of actual governing power? How important is it to deliver material wins to communities through political action while building “political instruments”? The four panelists each have built a somewhat different political instrument for their own contexts: Lizzy Oh of NYC-DSA; Kamau Chege of Washington Community Alliance; Asha Ransby-Sporn, Chicago organizer; and Evan Weber of Sunrise Movement and Our Hawai’i.
The climate group that threw soup on a Van Gogh knows they annoy you, but that might be part of why their controversial approach works. Contrary to many of these criticisms, there is also a large body of academic literature arguing that radical activism could be beneficial for the environmental movement as a whole. More recently, several polls and surveys have shown that the use of disruptive radical tactics can increase awareness of key issues and generate support for more moderate groups in the same movement. Other studies show that radical tactics are effective when they are contrasted with a set of moderate demands that the government can easily adopt. This article interviewed 12 members from around the U.K., asking how radical flank effects function when applied outside the ivory tower of academia.
The Sunrise Movement has had successes but also experienced internal difficulties. This article, a personal reflection on Sunrise experience, argues that the energy and mobilization of the 2018-2020 years that led to a surge of youth joining the Sunrise Movement won’t be possible in the next four years unless a new organizational strategy is built in the youth climate left. This author organized with a local Sunrise “hub” and then joined national leadership teams. However, Sunrise internal politics were based on who you knew.
The climate movement is getting more confrontational—is it working? In October 2022, activists with the group Just Stop Oil in the UK threw tomato soup at Van Gogh’s famous painting, “The Sunflowers,” in the National Gallery in London, then glued themselves to the wall under the painting, asking onlookers “What is worth more, art or life?” Within 24 hours most major media outlets had covered the protest in some way. Many covered it multiple times over the course of several weeks. It also inspired multiple copycat actions, with activists throwing mashed potatoes on a Monet in Germany, and pea soup on another Van Gogh in Italy. While the reaction to “Soupgate” seemed over the top, it’s also not terribly surprising that people were upset by it, because shock was the point, according to Dana Fisher, a sociologist. Part of the point of what researchers call the “radical flank” of any movement is to get this sort of reaction.
Last month, President Joe Biden announced the launch of the American Climate Corps, or ACC — a program that will train some 20,000 young people in careers in climate and clean energy. In this resource, Sunrise Movement co-founder Evan Weber discusses the years of Green New Deal organizing that led to the landmark new jobs program to address the climate crisis. A broad paint brush of tactics contributed to the win that is the American Climate Corps. These tactics included 500 young people getting arrested for blocking the White House in the summer of 2021 while demanding a fully-funded civilian climate corps in the Build Back Better negotiations. They also included behind-the-scenes lobbying and policy negotiation, coalition building and the electoral work that delivered some of the highest youth voter turnout in modern history — with climate being the reason that happened. The latter is also the reason President Biden went more aggressive on climate and updated his climate policy.
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