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Inside Philanthropy Covers Climate Mobilization in Outstanding Article!

A major challenge to organizing and advocacy around climate change is how even to approach a problem so large, complex, and gradually advancing (although it feels less gradual with every year, to be honest)…

By Tate Williams
Read and share the article on Inside Philanthropy.

A major challenge to organizing and advocacy around climate change is how even to approach a problem so large, complex, and gradually advancing (although it feels less gradual with every year, to be honest).

An advocacy group that launched in 2014 has one answer—we respond like we’re at war

For the Climate Mobilization Project, the climate crisis demands not incremental changes or gradual reductions in emissions, but an emergency response led by government that is on the scale of the response to World War II after the attack on Pearl Harbor. The group just picked up a grant from the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Shelter Rock of $100,000, an amount they say is the “country’s single largest philanthropic investment in emergency climate action.”

This modest grant from a local funder to a little-known climate outfit is worth a closer look, with an eye to takeaways for other players in this space. We’ve been saying for a while now that if climate change is really the time-urgent, existential threat that so many, including top funders, say it is, then civil society and philanthropy needs to start acting on that belief. Nonprofits need to hit harder and foundations need to give more—a lot more—while there’s still time.

But what would that look like, exactly? 

The Climate Mobilization Project was started by a group of friends from varying backgrounds—psychology, journalism, neuroscience—and now boasts an advisory board that includes former executive director of Greenpeace International, Paul Gilding, and leading climatologist Michael E. Mann.

The project’s director, Margaret Klein Salamon, told Inside Philanthropy that the grant from UUCSR was the first that it had ever received. “We have been funded thus far through monthly giving, major giving, and especially the in-kind donations of volunteers,” she said. “We have leveraged volunteers, including experts in policy, climate science and organizing, to a huge degree.”

The war-footing for climate change concept is more than just a rallying cry. It’s an operational approach that’s gotten increasing attention in recent years. For example, a 2016 NBER paper by Hugh Rockoff explored the rapid transformation of the U.S. economy in World War II to see whether this mobilization model “provides lessons about how the economy could be transformed to meet scarcities produced by climate change or other environmental challenges.” Bill McKibben also fleshed out the World War II analog in a long 2016 article in the New Republic, noting that Pearl Harbor made individual Americans willing to do hard things: pay more in taxes, buy billions upon billions in war bonds, endure the shortages and disruptions that came when the country’s entire economy converted to wartime production.”

For its part, the Climate Mobilization Project is following a city-by-city strategy to move the country into emergency mode. It’s campaigning to get governments to declare a climate emergency, initiate aggressive carbon reduction commitments, and become advocates for further emergency mobilization. The campaign cites some political advances, including the Los Angeles City Council voting to explore what would be the country’s first Climate Emergency Mobilization Department. And just this week, Berkeley, California, declared a climate emergency.

The people behind it aren’t fixed on one particular pathway for cities to take, but a proposed plan for how the country might proceed is pretty intense, including a transformation of our food systems, government rationing, carbon sequestration research, massive land preservation, and significant reductions in resource consumption. The group also has a strong environmental justice framing, calling for an “emergency speed transition that not only seeks to prevent unimaginable suffering from climate and environmental catastrophe, but reinvents our economy to address the social inequities on which an extractive economy is based.”

That’s likely a big part of what connected with the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Shelter Rock. UUCSR is a prominent congregation based in New York with a long record of social justice work and philanthropy. In addition to its Veatch grantmaking program, a Congregational Large Grants Program gives amounts of $100,000 to grantees voted on by the congregation. A climate change grant is a unique choice for the program, although past giving is wide-ranging, from prison reform to disaster relief. 

The compelling thing about the Climate Mobilization Project is that, while arguably unrealistic in its goals—since there’s no political consensus on this issue, as Rockoff’s paper notes—it is unflinching in its diagnosis of the level of response that climate change warrants. Much of its goal is to build a movement around how we should collectively think about climate change—mainly that the status quo of the approach to date is unacceptable. And from the standpoint of a funder like UUCSR, it’s a status quo that’s certainly unjust.

Read and share the article on Inside Philanthropy.

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Kristen Cashmore

Senior Director
Kristen brings more than 25 years of social justice advocacy to Climate Mobilization. Her previous positions at human rights, public health, environmental justice, and clean energy organizations inform her work with the variety of stakeholders she is engaging with to bring an accelerated response to the climate emergency. Kristen earned a BA in Peace and Conflict Studies from UC Berkeley, where she was a teaching assistant in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management.

Malik Russell

Communications Director

Malik leads Climate Mobilization’s press and communications strategy. He formerly served as Communications Director for the NAACP. He is a journalist, author, community-based educator, and former lecturer in the Department of Strategic Communications at Morgan State University. The former editor of the Washington Afro-American newspaper, he has worked as a journalist in the Black Press for over two decades.He has a BA in American history from Brandeis University and earned a Master of Public Administration degree from Baruch College in New York, where he was selected as a National Urban Fellow.

Ezra Silk

Deputy Director

Ezra is co-founder of The Climate Mobilization and Climate Mobilization Project. He authored The Climate Mobilization’s Victory Plan, an influential exploration of how the federal government can organize and implement a mobilization to save civilization from the Climate Emergency and ecological crisis. This document directly shaped the demands of the Extinction Rebellion movement and the Green New Deal framework. Ezra was also a lead author of the climate emergency declaration resolution introduced in Congress in July 2019. A former newspaper reporter, Ezra has a BA in history from Wesleyan University.

Matt Renner

Executive Director of The Climate Mobilization

Matt has worked as a nonprofit executive in clean energy, climate policy, and journalism for over a decade, focusing on the near-term social and economic impacts of climate change. He leads organizational expansion and works closely with the communications and organizing teams. Matt earned a BA in political science from UC Berkeley, where he was deeply inspired by the work of Professor George Lakoff.

Laura Berry

Research & Policy Director

Laura brings over a decade of experience to Climate Mobilization in climate advocacy, organizing, research, and policy. She has worked on climate, environmental, and sustainability issues from local to global scales with organizations including the Stockholm Environment Institute, the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators, and 350.org. She is passionate about deepening democratic engagement in response to the Climate Emergency. Laura has a BA in human ecology from College of the Atlantic and an MSc in global environment, politics, and society from the University of Edinburgh.

Rebecca Harris

Organizing Director

Rebecca leads Climate Mobilization organizing efforts. Along with a history of social movement organizing, Rebecca he has worked as a journalist covering equity in Chicago public schools. Most recently, Rebecca worked as Development and Communications Manager at Latino Union of Chicago, an immigrants’ and workers’ rights organization. She is a 2017 graduate of the Reframe Mentorship in strategic communications and a 2019 participant in the Anne Braden Organizer Training Program.

Marina Mails

Operations and Community Manager
Marina manages operations and volunteers for both The Climate Mobilization and Climate Mobilization Project. She brings broad experience working in non-profit organizations, health care settings, and running her own private counseling practice. Before joining Climate Mobilization, Marina maintained a practice focusing exclusively on climate-related emotional coping, helping people make bold choices for lifestyle and professional change in response to the Climate Emergency. She has a bachelor’s degree in political science and Spanish from Wake Forest University and a Masters in Counseling from UNC Greensboro.

Sydney Ghazarian

Digital Organizer
Sydney leads digital strategy for The Climate Mobilization and Climate Mobilization project. She is also a founder of National Democratic Socialists of America Ecosocialist Working Group and worked to establish climate as a primary focus of the American Left. Sydney has previously worked in journalism and in academic research. Sydney received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of California San Diego.

Cris Lagunas

Strategy Director

Cris is helping to grow the Climate Emergency Movement by supporting creative campaigns and extending the reach of the movement’s message. Cris is a co-founder of the National Immigrant Youth Alliance, an organization dedicated to using direct action tactics to expose, challenge and dismantle the immigration detention system.Cris got his start in organizing when he was 15 years old, getting involved in a local group of fellow undocumented youth.

Margaret Klein Salamon, PhD

Founder and Board President

Margaret is the founder of The Climate Mobilization (TCM) and Climate Mobilization Project (CMP) and helped catalyze a worldwide climate emergency movement through her work with both organizations. Margaret now serves as Climate Awakening Program Director. She is the author of Facing the Climate Emergency: How to Transform Yourself with Climate Truth (New Society Publishers, April 2020) and several influential essays. She is also a member of the Climate Emergency Fund’s Advisory Board. Margaret earned her PhD in clinical psychology from Adelphi University and a BA in social anthropology from Harvard. Though she loved being a therapist, Margaret felt called to apply her psychological and anthropological knowledge to solving the Climate Emergency.

AriDy Nox

Organizational Development and Engagement Manager
AriDy brings creativity, enthusiasm and a tremendous capacity for organization to her/their role, assisting the executive director with travel, communication and fundraising. AriDy Nox is a multi-disciplinary black femme storyteller and social activist. They have served as a national representative for The Young Women of Color Leadership Council, the Millennials of Color Leadership Bureau, and held writing positions with Advocates for Youth and RH Reality Check. She has worked as an administrative and executive assistant for a myriad of organizations including the Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program at Tisch School of the Performing Arts at NYU, the Youth Engagement Fund and the Community Resource Exchange.