“Everywhere throughout Honduras, like in all of Latin America, Africa, Asia, women are at the forefront of the struggles for our rights, against racial discrimination, for the defense of our commons and our survival. We’re at the front not only with our bodies but also with our force, our ideas, our proposals. We don’t only birth children, but ideas and actions as well”.
– Miriam Miranda, Honduran human rights and environmental activist
Ready to take action? From global conflict to democratic uprisings, it’s hard to know where to start. But it doesn’t have to be. Across the globe, activists are working together to promote justice for both our planet and its people. Organizing for a just world occurs globally on small and large scales. You may wonder, how do these movements start and how do I get involved?
One of the most powerful ways to get involved is through grassroots activism, but what exactly does that mean? Grassroots activism begins with individuals working together. The CLIMA Fund, a leading grassroots environmental group, defines their work as coming from, led by, and accountable to the people most impacted by a problem. By working from the ground up to include the voices of those most affected, these movements intimately understand the immediate concerns of a group, and in turn, can more effectively address the issues.
Grassroots activism happens all over the world and in nearly every movement for social change. From the Women’s Rights Movement of the late nineteenth century to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s, grassroots organizing allows for direct action and democratic community building. Today, countless groups are doing grassroots environmental work across the globe. In Kenya, the Kuruwitu Conservation and Welfare Association built their country’s first ever locally managed marine area to ban fishing in polluted and overfished ecosystems. In Pakistan, the Baltistan Wildlife Conservation and Development Organization is a community-based effort by village farmers to protect snow leopards and change the relationship between the wild cat and their livestock herds. The Indigenous Environmental Network, a nonprofit formed from the gathering of many Indigenous environmental groups, tackles environmental justice from the ground-up with concern for protecting the lives and land of those native to a given area.
In these movements and many others, grassroots are built by people born and raised in the area they seek to change or protect with a longstanding and intimate knowledge of both their land and the people on it. By working with local governments, community organizations, or starting their own organizations, these groups tackle the issues important to them and promote environmental progress.
One shining example of grassroots organizing can be found in the story of Nalleli Cobo, a 21-year old climate activist who has devoted her life to environmental justice. Growing up across the street from oil extraction facilities in Los Angeles county, Nalleli developed cancer at a young age as a direct result of the oil industry. Once she overcame her battle with cancer, she devoted herself to fighting against the oil industry by starting a nonprofit called People Not Pozos (“wells” in Spanish). It’s people like Nalleli that are making a difference with and for their communities and for the world
At Turning Green, we are proud to partner with nonprofits who strive to address challenges by starting at the community level. Our partner, Re:wild Your Campus, is a student-founded initiative dedicated to ending herbicides on college campuses across America. Re:wild Your Campus is a perfect example of grassroots organizing; it started with two students at one school fighting to end herbicides and has blossomed to 17 campuses in just a few years. Project Drawdown, another nonprofit partner of ours, is a leading resource for information and insight about climate solutions and provides a network of people working toward the mutual goal of reducing greenhouse gas levels.
Our sponsor for today, Patagonia Provisions, is taking grassroots agriculture mainstream, using the power and influence of the Patagonia brand to popularize food products that are made using farming techniques derived from the grassroots regenerative organic agriculture movement. What’s more, Patagonia only funds environmental grassroots organizations, because they have always believed that environmental change only starts from the ground up. Since 1985, Patagonia has given $100 million in grant money to fuel grassroots environmentalism.
While often small in scope, grassroots mobilization involves communities in a bottom-up structure focused on environmental justice, progress, and systems change. There are opportunities to get involved with grassroots organizations on your campus or across the world. Learn about the ways that environmental justice is dependent on grassroots organizing, and bring your voice to the conversations around the environmental issues that you care about.
Environmental issues are being addressed in many ways across the planet. Different problems require different solutions, so it is important to consider not only the nature of an environmental problem, but also who it affects and how it can be addressed.
Identify an environmental issue in your area, and research local grassroots organizations that are addressing it. Then answer the following questions.
Write a statement about your findings and post with an photo that will garner attention on Instagram, tagging @TurningGreenOrg with #PGC2022, and the social media account of an organization you find (where applicable).
Upload a PDF document with your visual and narrative incorporated and a screenshot of your social media post. Include your name (or team name), username, and school on your upload.
Community-based organizing is happening across the world, making it all the more important that we use our voices to elevate the work.
For the grassroots organization you found in the Green challenge (or any org you are drawn to), create a flyer promoting their work. Be creative, and include details about current initiatives, contact information/ social media, and powerful visuals to attract an audience. Canva and Google Slides are great free resources to get started on your flyer, but feel free to use any creative softwares you can find.
Post a copy of your flyer on social media, tagging @TurningGreenOrg with #PGC2022, and the social media account of the organization you highlight (where applicable).
Upload a PDF document with your visual and narrative incorporated and a screenshot of your social media post. Include your name (or team name), username, and school on your upload to be eligible to win.
Today, you have learned about grassroots movements, and how and why they work. Now it’s time to put your knowledge to work, and imagine your own grassroots campaign or organization. Before you start, here is some inspiration (video)
Think about an environmental issue that has captivated your attention over the past 23 days. Now imagine building a campaign to address the issue. Check out these resources on how to build an effective campaign here and here. Then, write a one page letter to your school president, or a politician who represents you, outlining the work that you would need to do in order to remedy the environmental issue of your choice. Remember, grassroots activism starts with one or two individuals and grows into an entire movement– this is your chance to become an eco hero!
Try to address these questions in your letter, but also ensure that your letter is compelling. We want the authority figure that you’re writing to to become as captivated as you are about this issue.
Once your letter is complete, send it to the authority figure that you want to influence and post a picture of it for social media. Be sure to tag @turninggreenorg!
Upload a PDF document of your letter and a screenshot of your social media post. Include your name (or team name), username, and school on your upload to be eligible to win.
Up to 10 Greener and 10 Greenest outstanding submissions will be selected as winners.
Each winner will receive: