350.org’s 10-10-10 Global Work Party
In October 2009, 350.org coordinated 5,200 simultaneous rallies and demonstrations in 181 countries (called the International Day of Climate Action) to bring attention to climate change. CNN referred to the event as the “most widespread day of political action in the planet's history" and, as you can see from the video below, people gathered around the world to lift public awareness about need for climate action.
With the November 2010 United Nations Climate Change Conference approaching, how could 350.org, an international organization intent on uniting the world around solutions to the climate crisis, continue to raise awareness and strengthen its movement? Was it possible for the group to top their successful campaign just one year later and reinforce a sense of urgency for their cause? And given the failures of the Copenhagen Climate Conference and the U.S. Congress to pass a Climate Bill, would people be too discouraged to participate?
350.org adopted the motto “Get to Work” and began organizing a “global work party” for October 10, 2010. It helped that 10-10-10 was a day easy to market and remember! The goal was to “send a strong message to our leaders: 'If we can get to work on solutions to the climate crisis, so can you.'" Supporters were asked to hold parties in their local communities to work on projects that cut carbon emissions and promote clean energy. 350.org founder Bill McKibben wrote “It’s an effort, in part, to shame our political leaders—to show them what actual work looks like.”
THE TOOLS AND TACTICS
Since the organization coordinated the International Day of Climate Action just one year earlier, they already had an existing base of supporters around the world to activate. After posting a call to action and announcing the 10-10-10 campaign on the website, 350.org aimed to further mobilize its supporters by offering a number of online of resources including:
Banner ideas: http://www.350.org/en/banners
Work party ideas: http://www.350.org/en/workparty-ideas
A 10-step guide to organizing a work party: http://www.350.org/en/10steps
A guide to getting media coverage: http://www.350.org/en/resources/media
They also had a wiki with resources and downloads including banners, posters, flyers, sign-up sheets, and tips like how to use Facebook to rally a local movement.
The key to successfully coordinating events for the day was to take a decentralized approach. While 350.org’s resources helped organizers to take a lot of the guesswork out of the planning process, they did not dictate what types of events supporters could hold. This left organizations and individuals at the local level with the freedom to come up with their own ideas for events that would resonate with their particular interests and community needs.
Organizers were asked to register their work parties on the 350.org website, which made it easier for the organization to keep track of what was happening and for supporters to find parties in their towns. A number of local organizations created their own blogs and Facebook pages dedicated to their specific events. There was a wide spectrum of parties, ranging from tree planting and gardening to bike rides, trash clean-ups, and marches.
Aaron Packard, Pacific Coordinator for 350.org, leveraged his personal and professional network and sent out e-mails inviting individuals to participate in events. He also found the 350.org tee shirts to be very popular with participants. Aaron works with Pacific Islanders, who often have trouble with internet connections, so he found that using DVDs about climate change to be a valuable resource. He relates, “Some of the feedback that I got is that DVD resources are the most useful as many villages don't have internet connections, but someone will at least have a DVD player. So I gathered up as many DVD resources as I could and sent them around to Tuvalu, Samoa, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, and Fiji.”
350.org also encouraged organizers and event participants to share photos and videos from work parties, making it extremely simple to upload them to the 350.org website.
THE STUMBLING BLOCKS
One of McKibben’s concerns was that the U.S. media would be more hesitant to cover the demonstrations than media outlets in other countries. He even wrote a piece for GOOD magazine titled, "I Dare the Media to Cover This." His prediction, unfortunately, came true, with Ben Jervey, contributing editor of GOOD, writing after the Global Work Party, “While the 7,347 actions in 188 countries worldwide made big media waves all over the world, there was barely a ripple here in the United States.”
By all accounts, this grassroots model of crowdsourcing activism by asking supporters to take part in specific tasks on behalf of the organization proved successful. The number of actions surpassed that of the International Day of Climate Action, with over 7,300 total work parties held in 188 countries.
What types of events were held around the world? Here’s a sampling of different work parties:
New Zealand: A sunrise launch event with a "solar panel boogie" to kick off the global work party
Los Angeles, California: Rally to Kick Coal and Oil Out of L.A. hosted by Greenpeace and the Sierra Club
Iran: More than 700 students took part in an event organized by students at at an international school in Tehran. The event featured an exhibition on global warming and a celebration of the school's solar panels.
Namibia: The Namib Desert Environmental Education Trust hosted an “in-house” event since they are 150 km from the nearest town/settlement.
Kuwait: More than 150 people, including the British Ambassador, participated in an event in Kuwait City organized by Kuwait Change. Word about the event was spread through the group’s Facebook page and three major Kuwaiti television stations covered the gathering.
Abu Dhabi: An event brought together children and adults for a screening of environmental videos, arts and crafts, furniture and jewelry design competitions using waste, and a pledge tree.
Iganga, Uganda: High school students, community members and the school chairperson installed solar panels and planted trees at the local school to promote clean energy and reforestation as solutions to climate change and to urge politicians to pass clean energy policies.
Oakland, California: 400 Oaklanders came out to the Laney College Community Garden to the "Get Down and Dirty" work party, which included gardening, a hip hop concert, local natural foods and workshops to promote environmental activism as a solution to climate change.
China: Over 30,000 students from 200 Chinese universities launched the “Great Green Initiative,” the largest grassroots, youth-led environmental campaign in China to date.
Sydney, Australia: A group bike ride through through the streets of Sydney was held.
These examples demonstrate the wide variety of events, both large and small, held around the world.
350.org released a video capturing many of the actions taken on 10-10-10:
They also collected photos from parties around the world and posted them to Flickr.
350.org has worked to sustain the momentum and excitement around the 10-10-10 parties by launching another campaign: the 350 Earth climate art project. In late November 2010, citizens and artists created massive public art installations to show how climate change is impacting our world. Check out the pictures here.
Did you organize or participate in a work party? Share your experiences in the comments section below!blog comments powered by Disqus