Advocate for change
Ready to take action, but don’t know where to start? From global conflict to democratic uprisings. Activists are working together to promote justice for both our planet and its people. Organizing for a just world occurs globally at 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 United States Women’s Rights Movement of the late nineteenth century to the Civil Rights Movements 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.
“When the world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.”
— Malala Yousafzai, Pakistani education activist
One great 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 which is likely linked to carcinogenic chemicals released from oil industries. 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.
Our non-profit partners for today strive to address tough issues starting at the community level. Re:wild Your Campus, is a student-founded initiative dedicated to eliminating toxic pesticides on college campuses across America to “improve human and environmental health, foster biodiversity and fight climate change”. Re:wild Your Campus is a perfect example of grassroots organizing that was started by two students at UC Berkeley fighting to end herbicide use on their grounds and the work has expanded to dozens of campuses in just a few years.
Today’s sponsor, Patagonia Provisions, is taking grassroots agriculture mainstream, using the power and influence of the Patagonia brand to popularize food products 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 how environmental justice depends on grassroots organizing, and bring your voice to the conversations around the environmental issues 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 a photo that will garner attention on Instagram, tagging @TurningGreenOrg with #PGC2023 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 connect to one another and elevate the work.
For the grassroots organization you found in the Green challenge (or any org you are drawn to), create a flier 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 flier but feel free to use any creative software you can find.
Post a copy of your flier on social media, tagging @TurningGreenOrg with #PGC2023, 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 wisdom to work and imagine your own grassroots campaign or initiative. Before you start, here is some inspiration (video) .
Think about an environmental issue that has captivated your attention over the past 21 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 Greener Winner will receive:
Each Greenest Winner will receive: