Skip to 0 minutes and 14 seconds Yeah. It’s a really good question, because we need a diversity of tactics when trying to work towards climate justice. And I guess the reason I work the way I do it is that I realized that I as a person am more than just a consumer. I’m also a citizen who has the power to influence and shape society. And so what speaks to me about being involved in a grassroots movement is that I get to collaborate with other people and join in with a lot of people with other strengths than myself to build power as people– so working with people power.
Skip to 0 minutes and 55 seconds Rather than just going into the corridors of those in political power and try and lobby them there, we try and build a movement showing what it is that we demand. And to me, this is just– it’s a very strategic way of working, because I really believe in people power, and I think that those who most people maybe regard as those with most influence wouldn’t have much influence if we didn’t allow them to have it.
Skip to 1 minute and 31 seconds My experience of working with theory of change is based on the organization that I’ve been working with for over three years, which is 350.org, an organization where we work to build grassroots power– people power– across the world for climate justice. And this is a tool to make sure that you know which strategy and which tactics will be the best suited to reach the goals that you have. And I think just as a person who is trying to work as a grassroots and doing activism or campaigning, it’s really important to have a look at your strategy, determine what is your vision, what is your long-term goal, and what are the milestones to reaching that goal.
Skip to 2 minutes and 29 seconds I’ve learned a lot by doing. And that’s how I got involved from the start. I just felt like, OK, the politicians did this terrible climate decision, and what can I do about it? I started Facebook events and did campaigns with my friends to try and get a lot of people to email certain petitions and those kinds of things and just trying things out. But since I started getting involved, I’ve also been going to activist conference and participated in actions and gone to trainings. And so I’ve learned also a lot about social movements and about movement-building.
Skip to 3 minutes and 5 seconds And I think that that’s really key to becoming successful with your group that is working to build people power or to change something from your group, is to really get trained and to learn about the history of social movements and what makes for success and what makes for actual change.
Skip to 3 minutes and 26 seconds I think one of the main things that I was finding troubling in the start of my trying to get involved as a citizen was how many times I would meet people who didn’t agree with me and who would be like, oh no, you should think this way instead, or you haven’t considered this particular way of thinking, and maybe it actually makes more financial sense to do it this way, and actually you guys aren’t just right. And so that really got me down and lowered my energy a lot. And I often felt like, oh, we can never win this.
Skip to 4 minutes and 2 seconds But then when having when having studied social movements and how it’s worked before in different fights– so the right for women to vote or the civil rights movement, just different movements and victories that have happened when it comes to changing society– you see that these people and these activists, they won their case without having everyone on their side. And even from when they started their fight, maybe there were even more people who were against them than when they started, but they had even more people who were with them.
Skip to 4 minutes and 36 seconds So what I’m learning through looking at a tool that we use that’s called spectrum of allies, where you divide society into sections of who is an active ally in our cause, who is a passive ally, who is neutral about it, who is a passive opponent– so someone who doesn’t agree with you but doesn’t do anything about it– and someone who is an active opponent. That’s one way of dividing it. And you can see that the way it can work and the way that I’ve chosen to work is to make sure that the passive allies, they become active allies, so you strengthen your base of people working for the cause. And the neutrals, they become passive allies.
Skip to 5 minutes and 19 seconds But you don’t have to focus so much on the active opponents, because they’re never going to join your cause anyway. It’s pretty unlikely, and it just drains you of energy.
Skip to 5 minutes and 36 seconds I’m convinced that we don’t just need a transition away from fossil fuels into renewables. We need to transition from the way that society functions right now on fossil fuels to a completely different way of society functioning. So we can’t just go from exploiting different parts of the world for fossil fuels to instead exploit other parts of the world for renewables, because renewable energy also comes with a cost.
Skip to 6 minutes and 5 seconds And so it’s much more about making sure that there’s a just transition away from fossil fuels and making sure that the people who are impacted both by the consequences of climate change, but also by the consequences of the societal transition from fossil fuels– there will be people affected by that as well– to make sure that they are deeply involved in how we develop the solutions. And I think connected to that is that many of us view ourselves as mainly consumers in society and as participants in society but not as the changemakers and the citizens who are active in developing society.
Skip to 6 minutes and 51 seconds And I would really urge people to really rethink about what role they could play and how much leadership they could take on, because we can really join together and make big changes, like learning just from history and how so many of the rights that– human rights that we have today, and just the weekend and the right to holidays that all of us are really enjoying right now have been won by people joining together and building people power.
Skip to 7 minutes and 22 seconds And the institutions who have now made those rights into legal laws, they wouldn’t say, yeah, this is something that we took in as a law because they pressured us, like there were tens of thousands of people who went on strike and there were all these people who were making us make this decision. They’re not going to say that. They’re writing history in a way where it won’t seem like people had the power to do that. They were the good ones from the beginning, and they just made those laws because they are good people. That wasn’t the case. The case was that something else was mainstream from the beginning. The people made something new mainstream, and then the lawmakers changed.
Skip to 8 minutes and 7 seconds So it’s really up to us to make society different from the society that we were born into. And I think that’s the main thing that I would try and get out there.
Working with change from the bottom up: grassroots initiatives
In Olivia Linanders’ video she talks about why she decided to work with grassroots movements, how she understands the concept of theory of change and important lessons that she has learnt through her work. In the text below you can read why, with her own words, she decided to be part of suing the Swedish state for their inadequate actions against climate change and for selling a government owned lignite coal mine in Germany.
Why I sue the Swedish state on climate grounds by Olivia Linander from 2016.
© Olivia Linander, CEMUS and Uppsala University