Tips​ ​for​ ​adapting​ ​the​ Sunrise ​message​ ​at​ ​home

The following is from the Sunrise Movement Plan, which I’ve been sharing in this series of posts. It’s a lot of material and I thought breaking it up, and having available online, would help spread the message. This part on adapting the message is really well done, I think. You can find the complete plan here.

You​ ​saw​ ​the​ ​basic​ ​message​ ​here (Mission and Plan).​ ​The​ ​message​ ​is​ ​honest,​ ​straight-forward,​ ​and​ ​if​ ​millions  of​ ​people​ ​hear​ ​it,​ ​we​ ​will​ ​win.​ ​But​ ​America​ ​is​ ​a​ ​big​ ​country,​ ​and​ ​not​ ​everybody​ ​“speaks​ ​the  same​ ​language”​ ​–​ ​both​ ​literally,​ ​and​ ​metaphorically.​ ​So​ ​rather​ ​than​ ​asking​ ​you​ ​to​ ​repeat​ ​the  message​ ​word-for-word​ ​(though​ ​you​ ​can​ ​do​ ​that​ ​if​ ​you​ ​want!),​ ​this​ ​section​ ​helps​ ​you  understand​ ​its​ ​crucial​ ​components​ ​so​ ​you​ ​can​ ​adapt​ ​it​ ​to​ ​your​ ​own​ ​context. 

A​ ​simple,​ ​meaningful,​ ​and​ ​hopeful​ ​message.​​ ​Three​ ​of​ ​the​ ​biggest​ ​reasons​ ​people​ ​don’t​ ​take  action​ ​is​ ​that​ ​they​ ​think​ ​they​ ​don’t​ ​know​ ​enough,​ ​don’t​ ​think​ ​the​ ​issue​ ​matters​ ​to​ ​them,​ ​or  don’t​ ​think​ ​they​ ​can​ ​make​ ​a​ ​difference.​ ​We​ ​need​ ​to​ ​change​ ​this.  

We​ ​keep​ ​our​ ​message​ ​​simple​​ ​by​ ​using​ ​terms​ ​people​ ​are​ ​familiar​ ​with​ ​to​ ​talk​ ​about​ ​what​ ​the  core​ ​problem​ ​is​ ​and​ ​what​ ​we​ ​can​ ​do​ ​to​ ​change​ ​it.​ ​One​ ​of​ ​the​ ​ways​ ​we​ ​keep​ ​it​ ​simple​ ​is​ ​using  this​ ​simple​ ​sequence​ ​that​ ​we’ve​ ​found​ ​effective​ ​in​ ​explaining​ ​this​ ​complex​ ​challenge​ ​honestly  and​ ​clearly:

  1. Climate​ ​change​ ​is​ ​hurting​ ​people​ ​right​ ​now​ ​and​ ​is​ ​getting​ ​worse​ ​every​ ​day 
  2. We​ ​have​ ​the​ ​solutions​ ​to​ ​stop​ ​it​ ​and​ ​create​ ​millions​ ​of​ ​jobs 
  3. But​ ​fossil​ ​fuel​ ​billionaires​ ​are​ ​buying​ ​off​ ​politicians​ ​to​ ​stall​ ​action 
  4. So,​ ​we​ ​need​ ​to​ ​build​ ​people​ ​power​ ​and​ ​elect​ ​honest​ ​leaders​ ​who​ ​will​ ​work​ ​for​ ​us 

We​ ​make​ ​it​ ​​meaningful​ ​​by​ ​connecting​ ​climate​ ​change​ ​to​ ​our​ ​life​ ​and​ ​the​ ​lives​ ​of​ ​people​ ​we  are​ ​talking​ ​to.​ ​People​ ​should​ ​feel​ ​like​ ​this​ ​is​ ​urgent​ ​and​ ​important​ ​enough​ ​for​ ​them​ ​to​ ​take  time​ ​out​ ​of​ ​their​ ​day​ ​to​ ​support. 

Our​ ​message​ ​is​ ​​hopeful​ ​​about​ ​what​ ​we​ ​can​ ​do​ ​if​ ​we​ ​come​ ​together​ ​to​ ​break​ ​our​ ​country​ ​free  from​ ​the​ ​grip​ ​of​ ​fossil​ ​fuel​ ​billionaires​ ​who​ ​are​ ​holding​ ​us​ ​back​ ​from​ ​a​ ​safe​ ​and​ ​prosperous  future.​ ​Climate​ ​change​ ​is​ ​scary,​ ​so​ ​it​ ​is​ ​important​ ​to​ ​remind​ ​people​ ​that​ ​we​ ​can​ ​do​ ​this.

We​ ​talk​ ​about​ ​jobs​ ​and​ ​the​ ​economy.​ ​​If​ ​we​ ​stop​ ​wasting​ ​billions​ ​in​ ​taxpayer​ ​money​ ​giving  handouts​ ​to​ ​oil​ ​and​ ​gas​ ​CEOs​ ​and​ ​instead​ ​put​ ​that​ ​money​ ​to​ ​work​ ​helping​ ​develop​ ​wind​ ​and  solar,​ ​we​ ​can​ ​create​ ​millions​ ​more​ ​jobs​ ​and​ ​lower​ ​energy​ ​prices​ ​America.​ ​It​ ​is​ ​important​ ​that  we​ ​make​ ​this​ ​clear​ ​because​ ​these​ ​issues​ ​matter​ ​a​ ​lot​ ​people​ ​and​ ​fossil​ ​fuel​ ​executives​ ​have  tried​ ​to​ ​deceive​ ​the​ ​public​ ​about​ ​the​ ​economic​ ​opportunity​ ​of​ ​wind​ ​and​ ​solar. 

This​ ​is​ ​about​ ​the​ ​people​ ​and​ ​places​ ​we​ ​love.​ ​​​ ​Our​ ​message​ ​is​ ​most​ ​impactful​ ​when​ ​we​ ​are  talking​ ​about​ ​tangible​ ​things,​ ​not​ ​abstract​ ​ideas​ ​and​ ​figures​ ​(e.g.​ ​how​ ​much​ ​carbon​ ​is​ ​in​ ​the atmosphere).​ ​You​ ​can​ ​do​ ​this​ ​by​ ​sharing​ ​about​ ​what​ ​makes​ ​this​ ​personal​ ​for​ ​you,​ ​or​ ​talking  about​ ​the​ ​local​ ​environmental​ ​and​ ​health​ ​impacts​ ​of​ ​climate​ ​change​ ​and​ ​fossil​ ​fuel  infrastructure.​ ​(Fracking,​ ​pipelines,​ ​asthma​ ​from​ ​refineries,​ ​drought,​ ​sea​ ​level​ ​rise,​ ​etc.)

WE.​ ​​At​ ​the​ ​broadest​ ​level,​ ​we​ ​are​ ​young​ ​people.​ ​You​ ​can​ ​be​ ​as​ ​broad​ ​as​ ​that,​ ​or​ ​get​ ​more  specific​ ​with​ ​it.​ ​Just​ ​remember​ ​–​ ​we​ ​are​ ​building​ ​a​ ​movement​ ​for​ ​all​ ​young​ ​people,​ ​including  people​ ​who​ ​have​ ​never​ ​gotten​ ​involved​ ​in​ ​politics​ ​before​ ​–​ ​so​ ​don’t​ ​describe​ ​Sunrise​ ​in​ ​terms  of​ ​identities​ ​that​ ​your​ ​audience​ ​doesn’t​ ​share,​ ​e.g.​ ​”activists.”​ ​E.g.:  

  • “Sunrise​ ​is​ ​a​ ​movement​ ​of​ ​young​ ​people​ ​here​ ​in​ ​Wisconsin​ ​to…”
  • “I’m​ ​part​ ​of​ ​Sunrise,​ ​and​ ​we’re​ ​connecting​ ​(high​ ​schoolers​ ​/​ ​young​ ​Christians​ ​/​ ​young  Muslims​ ​/​ ​young​ ​immigrants​ ​/​ ​etc…)​ ​here​ ​in​ ​Florida​ ​to…” 

THEM.​ ​“​They”​ ​are​ ​the​ ​wealthy​ ​executives​ ​of​ ​oil,​ ​gas,​ ​and​ ​coal​ ​companies,​ ​who​ ​have​ ​spent  millions​ ​to​ ​deceive​ ​the​ ​public​ ​and​ ​buy​ ​off​ ​politicians.​ ​“They”​ ​are​ ​also​ ​the​ ​politicians​ ​who​ ​have  taken​ ​the​ ​dirty​ ​money​ ​to​ ​let​ ​fossil​ ​fuel​ ​billionaires​ ​craft​ ​their​ ​policy.​ ​“They”​ ​is​ ​not​ ​“the​ ​fossil  fuel​ ​industry”​ ​because​ ​that​ ​includes​ ​fossil​ ​fuel​ ​workers​ ​whose​ ​labor​ ​and​ ​communities​ ​have  been​ ​exploited​ ​by​ ​these​ ​same​ ​executives.​ ​Whenever​ ​possible,​ ​talk​ ​about​ ​direct​ ​collusion  between​ ​politicians​ ​and​ ​executives​ ​–​ ​this​ ​is​ ​a​ ​powerful​ ​message​ ​that​ ​elicits​ ​a​ ​lot​ ​of​ ​anger.  E.g.: 

  • “Corporate​ ​greed​ ​and​ ​complicit​ ​politicians​ ​are​ ​hurting​ ​our​ ​environment.” 
  • “We’re​ ​challenging​ ​Governor​ ​Walker​ ​(politician)​ ​to​ ​put​ ​the​ ​interests​ ​of​ ​Virginia’s  people​ ​over​ ​that​ ​of​ ​Dominion​ ​Resources​ ​(electric​ ​and​ ​gas​ ​company).​
  • “This​ ​decision​ ​by​ ​Trump​ ​is​ ​a​ ​giveaway​ ​to​ ​wealthy​ ​oil​ ​CEO’s.”

This​ ​is​ ​about​ ​a​ ​wealthy​ ​few​ ​vs.​ ​the​ ​rest​ ​of​ ​us.​ ​​Huge​ ​majorities​ ​of​ ​Americans​ ​want​ ​action​ ​to  stop​ ​climate​ ​change,​ ​but​ ​a​ ​small​ ​handful​ ​of​ ​very​ ​wealthy​ ​people​ ​have​ ​bought​ ​out​ ​politicians  of​ ​both​ ​parties​ ​to​ ​hold​ ​back​ ​progress.​ ​It​ ​is​ ​much​ ​more​ ​powerful​ ​if​ ​we​ ​talk​ ​in​ ​these​ ​terms​ ​and  call​ ​out​ ​this​ ​greed​ ​rather​ ​than​ ​use​ ​partisan​ ​rhetoric​ ​the​ ​American​ ​people​ ​are​ ​tired​ ​of.

We​ ​highlight​ ​how​ ​fossil​ ​fuel​ ​billionaires​ ​use​ ​racism​ ​or​ ​classism​ ​to​ ​get​ ​their​ ​way.​ ​​Polluting  facilities​ ​are​ ​often​ ​deliberately​ ​located​ ​in​ ​poor​ ​neighborhoods​ ​and/or​ ​communities​ ​of​ ​color  that​ ​have​ ​less​ ​political​ ​influence​ ​to​ ​stop​ ​them.​ ​These​ ​same​ ​communities​ ​are​ ​less​ ​likely​ ​to​ ​get  government​ ​help​ ​to​ ​protect​ ​them​ ​from​ ​the​ ​effects​ ​of​ ​climate​ ​change.​ ​This​ ​is​ ​messed​ ​up,​ ​and  telling​ ​this​ ​story​ ​can​ ​be​ ​a​ ​very​ ​effective​ ​way​ ​to​ ​connect​ ​with​ ​people​ ​and​ ​get​ ​them​ ​involved. 

Acknowledge​ ​differences​ ​but​ ​focus​ ​on​ ​similarities.​ ​​To​ ​succeed,​ ​our​ ​movement​ ​needs​ ​to  engage​ ​millions​ ​of​ ​people​ ​from​ ​all​ ​walks​ ​of​ ​life.​ ​For​ ​decades,​ ​political​ ​elites​ ​have​ ​tried​ ​to  divide​ ​us​ ​by​ ​our​ ​political​ ​party,​ ​our​ ​skin​ ​color,​ ​and​ ​where​ ​we​ ​live.​ ​We​ ​refuse​ ​to​ ​play​ ​into​ ​their game.​ ​There​ ​are​ ​differences​ ​among​ ​us,​ ​which​ ​we​ ​can​ ​acknowledge​ ​and​ ​celebrate,​ ​but​ ​we  focus​ ​on​ ​what​ ​unites​ ​us:​ ​our​ ​shared​ ​strategy​ ​and​ ​vision​ ​of​ ​an​ ​America​ ​that​ ​works​ ​for​ ​all​ ​us 

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