Reflecting on the Fall 2017 Climate Organizing Fellowship

Last fall semester, twelve students from six campuses across Massachusetts came together for the 2017-18 Better Future Project Climate Organizing Fellowship program.

Group photo of the fellows at the second fall training

The fellows range from first-years to seniors, and many are members of fossil fuel divestment campaigns, continuing a 5-year old movement to get their schools to divest their endowments from investments in fossil fuel companies. Some are also actively pursuing carbon pricing campaigns with the support of Put A Price On It to get their schools to advocate for a statewide carbon pricing bill.

The Climate Organizing Fellowship program is now in its third year, and it remains one of the few opportunities for students in Massachusetts to get trained in grassroots organizing skills to advance their climate action and climate justice campaigns, both on campus and beyond. This year-long program convenes these 12 students every month for day-long organizing trainings that allows them to develop a broad set of climate organizing skills and political education and to also build a strong community of peers.

Our fellows for the fall are listed below:

Nate Bradley, Boston College
Sankari Nadanapathan, Boston College
Renee Nichols, Boston College
Stephanie Eggers, Boston University
Bolaji Olagbegi, Boston University
Gracie Jackson, Clark University
Laddy DeLuca Lowell, Clark University
Thomas Bunnell, College of the Holy Cross
Xochit Tapia, College of the Holy Cross
Claire Halloran, MIT
Celia Bottger, Tufts University
Aviva Kardener, Tufts University

At our first training on October 15th, we came up with a set of Community Agreements to help create an intentional community that works for everyone to feel safe and supported. We spent the morning reflecting and sharing on questions like “What is at stake for you?” and “Why do you care about climate change?” We then held an Anti-Oppression workshop where we explored the ways that the interconnected systems of capitalism, patriarchy, and white supremacy show up in our world and in our lives, and how this connects to the climate crisis.  We ended the day with a training on the basics of campaign strategy, focusing in on the importance of choosing good targets!

Group photo of the fellows at the BFP office posing as their favorite animal! Can you guess which animal everyone is?

At our second training on November 5th, we did a storytelling activity called “Origin Stories,” in which we told the story of where we come from in small groups. We did a whirlwind campaign strategy workshop, covering Theory of Change, Spectrum of Support, Act-Absorb-Train, and Goal-setting & Backwards Timelining! The workshop launched us into a campaign work session, where fellows broke out into their campaigns to set strategic goals and plan their campaign timeline. The key challenge was to make a plan to absorb new new members into their campaign.

On November 15th, Better Future Project coordinated a National Campus Day of Action. Many of the fellows helped to lead actions on their campuses, calling on their universities to take action during the 23rd Climate Talks in Bonn, Germany.

During the third training on December 3rd, the fellows did personal and group evaluations of the fall semester. We planned for the Spring with a workshop on how to plan a successful strategy session. Afterwards, the fellows had a consultation session with our Campus Divestment Advisory Committee, a body of professors, finance experts, and non-profit leaders who have volunteered their expertise in support of student divestment campaigns. To close, we had a discussion about climate justice to explore its definition and to ground ourselves in the values that we want to guide our divestment organizing.

This Spring, we will continue the Fellowship by welcoming a few additional students and holding a Training for Trainers in early February. The fellows will learn facilitation techniques to prepare to lead our Spring 2018 Mass Climate Organizing Training on February 25th! Are you a student who is interested in gaining more climate organizing skills? Sign up for the training here:

Stay tuned to learn more about our Climate Organizing Fellows and for updates on their leadership journey!

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