From Protest to Power: Day 1 of Building Grassroots Community Power with Sierra Club

“Organizing is a skilled craft; that is people-centered and based on coming to common values & goals.” – Bob Bingaman, National Organizing Director

20170306_175727In the past, I’ve worked with many social justice and environmental organizations, but my first day of “Sierra Club Organizing Training” in Oakland, CA reassured me that I was in the right place, at the right time.
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The Sierra Club is an environmental organization in the United States. It was founded on May 28, 1892, in San Francisco, California, by the Scottish-American preservationist John Muir, who became its first president. It’s rich with political history of influence and power, as one of the largest grassroots environmental organizations in the world. We believe that the fight for our future and to the protect the environment is by building power through organizing people and organizing money.

In 2015, Sierra Club introduced it’s equity framework apart of the national Sierra Club Strategic Plan.  In 2016, Sierra Club decided to move away from diversity and more in the depths of equity and inclusion.

20170306_180052Currently, the Sierra Club organizes under a “Power Building” model that acknowledges: breadth, depth, network and intensity. Breadth is the number of grassroot leaders who are directly involved, engaged on the issues and making changes in their community; it also consists of the number of grasstop relationships on the higher level who have the power to make the changes the community needs. Depth is about the ability to build strong teams and volunteer groups who are dedicated to the cause and will build up the capacity of the organization. Your network is the number of strategic partnerships that can help build power. Intensity is all about how you utilize those relationships to build power and how many wins you can achieve.

“The beauty of Sierra Club is that all of my identities are able to show up.” – Allison Chin, Board of Directors

20170306_175427Community Organizers recruit, develop and engage leaders to make a difference. We create opportunities for leadership development based on the issues for our volunteers. We include equity & justice in our work. And there’s never been a good organizer who didn’t love people. Great organizers LOVE people.

Our principles of equity and inclusion lay the foundation for our work. We win campaigns but also aim for concrete improvements. We realign power in communities and empower members to become community leaders. We develop “Community-based Strategic Plans.” Our vision and values of equity, inclusion and justice plays out in all that we do. 20170306_185630

The diversity of our Organizers in Sierra Club on a national level was empowering. Young people were centered around the conversations and was literally given microphones to share our own views and perspectives. I feel a deeper connection to the work that I do and the organization that I work for.

Our jobs of organizing communities is critical. We must resist, recruit, train and sustain our leaders. Our power comes from building grassroots to achieve positive change. This may be just the beginning of a new foundation of organizing for the Sierra Club. But I believe this is a good start and I believe this is just the beginning…

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