Sunrise Movement and the Democratic National Committee

Together, we will change this country and this world, sure as the sun rises each morning.

In these challenging times especially, I always look forward to attending meetings of the Sunrise Movement. I’m so inspired by the passion and determination that infuses everything we do together. Most of our meetings are online via ZOOM, which allows us to see and hear each other.

I see parallels with the anti-war movement I was involved in during the Vietnam War and with the civil rights movement at that time.

I really enjoyed seeing some of the members of the Sunrise Movement in person when they were in Des Moines for the Green New Deal Tour on Earth Day.

You may have been hearing news stories about the conflict in the Democratic party regarding having one presidential debate that focuses solely on climate chaos. Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairman Tom Perez has angered the environment movement by refusing to consider this idea, claiming climate change to be a single issue. Indicating that if there was a debate solely about climate chaos, others would want other single issue debates. That statement shows how out of touch he is regarding the scope of environmental destruction.

In response to the DNC’s refusal to hold a climate change focused debate, the Sunrise Movement quickly organized another sit-in in front of the DNC headquarters in Washington, DC. Last night’s Sunrise mass organizing call was a chance for us to hear about that sit-in, and the plans to continue to demand a climate centered debate.

Josh and Luis began the meeting by telling about the DNC sit-in. Sunrise Movement meetings are all about sharing stories, which is one of the main reasons, I believe, the movement has been so successful. One of the 11 Sunrise Principles is “we tell our stories and we honor each other’s stories”. You can see all the principles below.

They talked about the disbelief and anger they felt when they heard the DNC decision to refuse to hold a climate focused presidential debate.

“Our institutions are utterly failing us.”

Thinking of how to respond, they quickly put together a sit-in in front of the national DNC headquarters in Washington, DC. Much of what then happened was spontaneous. I am really impressed by how creative and effective Sunrise is in organizing.

When Sunrise Movement members, many from the Washington, DC Hub got to the DNC offices, they began telling their stories, as they always do. In response the building’s doors were locked!

The Sunrise members stayed and continued to tell their stories.They called on the DNC to have the moral courage to focus on environmental chaos. Much of what happened was spontaneous. They sang songs and camped out, staying there for 60 hours. One idea was to hold an outdoor watch party. Other Sunrise Principles are “we take initiative” and “we embrace experimentation and we learn together.”

They talked about the great community support. People brought meals, sun screen, etc. Other Sunrise Principles are “we ask for help and we give what we can”, “we take care of ourselves, each other, and our shared home”, and “we grow our power through talking to our communities.”

The Sunrise Principle I see all the time is “we shine bright.”

Because of this sit-in, Tom Perez will now put a climate focused debate up for a vote when the DNC meets August 22nd.

There were nearly 750 of us on the call last night! During the call, 400 of us committed to either plan or attend an action at our local Democratic party offices in the next few weeks. We want to pressure our local party leaders to vote for a climate only presidential debate when the DNC holds its August 22nd meeting.

Use this link to sign up to participate in whatever action becomes planned at your local Democratic party offices.

These are guidelines of our movement which we all commit to uphold. Any action that does not embody these principles is not a Sunrise action.

  1. We are a movement to stop climate change and create millions of good-paying jobs in the process. We unite to make climate change an urgent priority across America, end the corrupting influence of fossil fuel executives on our politics, and elect leaders who stand up for the health and wellbeing of all people.
  2. We grow our power through talking to our communities. We talk to our neighbors, families, religious leaders, classmates, and teachers, in order to spread our word. Our strength and work is rooted in our local communities, and we are always growing in number.
  3. We are Americans from all walks of life. We are of many colors and creeds, from the plains, mountains, and coasts. A wealthy few want to divide us, but we value each other in our differences and we are united in a shared fight to make real the promise of a society that works for all of us.
  4. We are nonviolent in word and deed. Remaining nonviolent allows us to win the hearts of the public and welcomes the most people to participate. We need maximum participation in order to achieve our goals.
  5. We tell our stories and we honor each other’s stories. We all have something to lose to climate change, and something to gain in coming together. We tell our individual stories to connect with each other and understand the many different ways this crisis impacts us.
  6. We ask for help and we give what we can. We all have something to offer to the movement. Some of us give time through volunteering anywhere from 1 to 50 hours per week. Some of us give money. Some of us donate housing or meeting space. We invite our community into the movement by asking for the help we need.
  7. We take initiative. Any group of 3 people can take action in the name of Sunrise. We ask for advice — not permission — from each other to make this happen. To make decisions, we ask ourselves, “does this bring us closer to our goal?” If yes, we simply do the work that is exciting and makes sense.
  8. We embrace experimentation and we learn together. We welcome imperfection, share innovations, and learn through honest mistakes followed by honest conversations that help us move forward together. If we see something we don’t like, we contribute with something we do like, modeling an alternative.
  9. We take care of ourselves, each other, and our shared home. We maintain our health of body, mind, spirit, and environment to the best of our ability so that we can maintain a strong movement together. We respect that for each of us this looks different. 
  10. We stand with other movements for change. Stopping climate change requires winning and holding power at every level of government. This is a huge job and we can’t do it alone. When it makes sense, we work with other movements who share our values and are also working to win political power.
  11. We shine bright. There are hard and sad days, to be sure. This isn’t easy work. But we strive to bring a spirit of positivity and hope to everything we do. Changing the world is a fulfilling and joyful process, and we let that show.


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