Yesterday I tried to provide an introduction to the Sunrise Movement, which is currently the organizing force behind the Green New Deal. What I didn’t do was convey why I feel such hope and interest in this movement.
I’ve spent a lot of time and energy for years with a number of organizing efforts, including the Keystone Pledge of Resistance, Indiana Moral Mondays, Black Lives Matter, Kheprw Institute, peace efforts, American Friends Service Committee work related to North Korea, Friends Committee on National Legislation, the Dakota Access Pipeline, Poor People’s Campaign, First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March, and most recently beginning to be involved with Bold Iowa. Some of these efforts were more effective than others.
One of the things that impresses me is the scope of the Sunrise Movement’s Plan (see here). The plan recognizes the magnitude and urgency of what needs to be done now if we are to have any hope of survival. It recognizes that we have to move to 100% renewable energy within the next 10 years.
The plan also recognizes that our social fabric is in tatters. Millions don’t feel connected to any community. Far too many turn to drugs, too many to suicide. Millions are hopeless because they don’t see how to lift themselves out of poverty, even when working 2 or 3 jobs and don’t see things improving for their children.
The Sunrise Movement at its core addresses diversity, poverty and equity. Key to achieving that is the millions of good jobs the will have to be created to transform our energy, transportation and food systems to be powered by 100% renewable energy.
Many organizations have had good sounding plans that didn’t work out in the end. My experiences are that one key to success is to build a community of people who get to know each other well, who support each other over the long haul. So many people today have no sense of belonging to anything. It takes good organizing skills to build such communities across the country and world. The Keystone Pledge of Resistance excelled at that. Experienced activists traveled to 25 cities in the U.S. to provide training for people who would become local organizers. Locally we not only received excellent training in how to design and create nonviolent direct actions, but we also got to spend time with the leaders of the Resistance that we would be communicating with via monthly national conference calls after our local training. Those of us who received the training became good friends as we worked together, and learned how to pull others into the resistance. It was comforting to know these people would support us, including if we were arrested.
One of the things that was often missing, though, were young people. All of this organizing and training takes a lot of time, often more than young people have, or feel they can give. The difference with the Sunrise Movement is that it is being led by young people. Youth are showing up because they know it is their future on the line.
The Sunrise Movement has organizing plans similar to the Keystone Pledge of Resistance. Local groups will learn about nonviolent direct action as one tool that might be needed to capture attention. Sunrise response teams will go to every environmental disaster, not only to help, but to bring attention to why the disaster occurred. Plans also call for the formation of literally thousands of local activist communities, Sunrise Hubs. There will be hubs in neighborhoods, schools, and churches.
Those who are in the Sunrise Movement have already demonstrated how they can be in touch with each other using Internet apps and social media. Last night’s conference call was via Zoom, an app that allows everyone to see and hear each other. And that’s what really made me believe in this Movement, seeing these excited young people. Hearing the wonder and passion in their voices. It gave an old organizer such joy to hear several kids tell their stories. You could hear it in their voices, talking about how scared they were to start taking on responsibilities and doing things they never thought they could do. “I was freaked out!” And then to hear their voices change as they began to have success, and have other people look to them for leadership. Finding they could provide that. How much it means to them to have these new experiences and skills. And wanting to do even more.
Just because the Sunrise Movement is led by youth, it is going to take all of us to accomplish this massive re-tooling to achieving 100% renewable energy within 10 years. We don’t have a choice if there is going to be a future.
I urge you to learn more about the Sunrise Movement https://www.sunrisemovement.org/ and the New Green Deal, and teach others what you learn. Write letters to the editor. Talk about this in your school and church. Talk to your Congressional, state and local politicians.
Ed Fallon and I talked a little about this on the Fallon Forum this week (below).