Better Future Project was founded just shy of two years ago. At the time there was only one full-time staff member (Craig Altemose) with two talented, dedicated people volunteering the majority of their time (Vanessa Rule and Marla Marcum) and the main focus was our flagship summer leadership development program, Climate Summer. Since then, our network and initiatives have expanded greatly. This January, February, and March have been particularly busy, as we have launched new campaigns and hired multiple staff members. We are pleased to share the exciting growth of the organization.
The 350 Massachusetts network (350MA), a volunteer-led, campaign-focused initiative convened and staffed by Better Future Project, has exploded in size. There are currently about 60-70 people at every meeting in Cambridge (which are held once every two weeks) and hundreds at actions. New 350MA nodes are popping up across the state–350MA JP/Boston had a kickoff meeting on March 28th and 350MA Worcester and 350MA Lowell are in the planning stages. We just hired a designated 350MA coordinator, Malcolm Bliss, who has been a part of the group since the very beginning, as a leader in divestment. He will now be working full-time to strengthen the network in partnership with our Operations Coordinator, Sophie Robinson. Current 350MA campaigns include divestment, no gas mass, carbon tax, coal, and solutions.
Better Future Project has been working on divestment in a few capacities. Since September, we have been collaborating with college campuses in the Northeast to support their movements to divest endowment holdings from fossil fuel companies and reinvest in environmentally and socially responsible funds. In partnership with 350.org, we just hired a second New England Divestment coordinator, Katie McDonald to support Shea Riester’s efforts, because the movement is spreading to so many college campuses in the area (and the country). 350MA also has a working group dedicated to government, pension, and faith divestment efforts.
We have recently hired a Natural Gas Campaign Organizer, Dorian Williams, who has worked with Better Future Project as an intern, been a leader within Students for a Just and Stable Future, and served as a member of the Initiating Committee of 350MA. Dorian will be working closely with the volunteer No Gas Mass 350MA working group but also be organizing against fracking and natural gas in other ways. She will be providing support for Climate Summer, focusing on the Algonquin Pipeline, which runs through Massachusetts, and communities in Pioneer Valley that are being threatened by fracking.
Better Future Project’s Director of Community Engagement Vanessa Rule has turned her focus to developing a new part of the climate movement. A group, titled Mothers Out Front — Mobilizing for a Livable Climate, was officially launched a few weeks ago. Mothers in the greater Boston area are coming together to seed a mothers’ climate group, under the umbrella of Better Future Project, to draw a line in the sand, build power, and demand that elected and business leaders act now to ensure a livable future for all children. If you are interested in getting involved or know a mother that would be, please contact Vanessa Rule at email@example.com.
We also now have a (temporary) tar sands organizer, Eli Gerzon, who will be working in a variety of ways to mobilize the people of Massachusetts against tar sands. He is currently gathering comments to send to the State Department and President Obama urging them to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. Contribute a comment here.
We have not forgotten the summer programs that we started with two years ago. Climate Summer will take place for the fifth time this June to August, with teams of young people biking around New England. For the second year, bikers will also be down in the Gulf Coast, riding from New Orleans to Exxon Mobil’s headquarters in Irving, TX with the support of our Gulf Coast Coordinator, Tara Escudero. We also have some exciting plans for this summer that we are currently working to finalize.
With two years down, we have accomplished much. We are very excited to see where our organization and the movement will be two years from now!