Time to Form an Affinity Group: Direct Action on Climate Change and Preparing for Frankenstorms
By Chuck Collins / localcircles.org

Imagine six months from now a social movement that no longer waits for elected politicians to lead and engages in direct action against the fossil fuel industry and their lobbying power. ~ By Chuck Collins

It is time to form affinity groups.

We need to come together to form small groups of friends and neighbors that can engage in creative nonviolent action and lean on each other in the months and years to come.

It is obvious that our current political system is incapable of responding to the urgent problems facing our country.

An affinity group is a group of 10 to 20 people, often neighbors or people who mostly know each other. They support one another through mutual aid and to engage in bold nonviolent actions they are called to do.

I was in an affinity group between 1977 and 1979 affiliated with the Clamshell Alliance for the purpose of keeping the Seabrook nuclear power station from being built. I was trained in MLK-style nonviolent civil disobedience and participated in a variety of protests. While we didn’t succeed in stopping Seabrook, thousands of us got schooled in principled direct action and democratic decision-making.

In 1983, I joined another affinity group to “pledge to resist” a possible U.S. invasion of Nicaragua. This effort engaged thousands of people in the country – and had a direct impact on containing the Reagan administration’s interventionist impulses. Our affinity group of 15 people, called the Five Rivers Organizing Group, remained together for years, as both a source of personal support and mutual aid –but also as a place where I could join others to think strategically about how to take action.

Inspired by the urgency of climate change, I’ve joined with a dozen others to form an affinity group in Boston. We view our purpose as keeping our spirits up, singing more, and engaging in creative actions around the climate crisis.  We have begun to reach out to other affinity groups in the Boston area to learn from their efforts.

I just watched the PBS Frontline documentary “Climate of Doubt” with four members of my affinity group last night. It gave me a better understanding how the “organized climate deniers” worked to kill “cap and trade” legislation and shift public attitudes about climate change. Watching it alone, it may have just added to my despair about climate change. But watching it with others allowed me to think proactively about its implications for us individually and as organizers.

The fossil fuel industry is using its political clout to block urgent reforms for their own short-term gains. As Bill McKibben writes in Rolling Stone, in an article called “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math,” If people come to understand the cold mathematical truth – that the fossil-fuel industry is systematically undermining the planet’s physical systems – it might weaken it enough to matter politically. Exxon and their ilk might drop their opposition to a fee-dividend solution.”

After the election, the environmental group 350.org and McKibben are launching a “Do The Math” campaign that includes a call to colleges, individuals and religious institutions to “divest from fossil fuels.”

But we’re clearly at a moment when we need to organize ourselves – whether it’s to convince an institution we’re part of to divest from fossil fuels, or to prepare our community for a “Frankenstorm” that is most likely part of climate change’s weird weather.

In Boston, there are efforts to convene affinity group “meet ups” and support new affinity groups. See some examples of upcoming training events at www.localcircles.org/affinitygroups.

Imagine six months from now a social movement that no longer waits for elected politicians to lead and engages in direct action against the fossil fuel industry and their lobbying power. Imagine college students and religious congregations organizing to divest from fossil fuel companies and reinvest in the new economy. All these efforts lead Congress to separate “oil and politics” and find real climate solutions.

The tinder is dry and ready to be ignited. As throughout history, change will start when a critical mass of people makes the personal decision that “enough is enough” and form small action groups to engage in sustained organizing.

Click here to read more and get involved.

Chuck Collins is a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies and author of 99 to 1: How Wealth Inequality is Wrecking the World and What We Can Do About It. He is coeditor of inequality.org.

RESOURCES

Editors Note: As an alternative, we also encourage you to create a Films For Action chapter in your city, which can be used with the same goals in mind.

4.0 · 1
What's Next
Related
Load Comments
Trending Today
The Story of the Chinese Farmer
2 min · 6,733 views today · "The whole process of nature is a process of immense complexity and it is really impossible to tell whether something that happens in it is good or bad." A parable about life...
The Great Forgetting: You Probably Haven't Heard about It But It Completely Affects Your Life
Deep Ecology Hub · 2,267 views today · This article summarizes the ideas of Daniel Quinn, first written about in The Story of B, which was a sequel to Ishmael. The longer, original essay can be read here, and comes...
Worker Cooperatives Are More Productive Than Normal Companies
 Michelle Chen · 1,468 views today ·  When maximizing profits isn’t the only goal, companies can actually work better.
Why Men Are So Obsessed with Sex
Steve Bearman · 1,249 views today · Have you ever encountered a baby whose gender is unknown to you?
The Mental Disease of Late-Stage Capitalism
Joe Brewer · 1,065 views today · I’ve been talking with a lot of my friends recently — in private where they felt comfortable letting their guard down — about the dirty little secret no one is supposed to talk...
For 40 Years, Liberals Have Accepted Defeat and Called It “Incremental Progress.”
Matt Karp · 1,055 views today · Bernie Sanders offers a different way forward.
Monsanto: The Poison Expert That Wants to Feed Us
5 min · 896 views today · Is the ‘old’ Monsanto, the one responsible for producing Agent Orange, PCB’s and DDT and a terrible record at covering up and denying the tragedies that have resulted from...
Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed (The Real Reason For The Forty-Hour Workweek)
David Cain · 853 views today · Well I’m in the working world again. I’ve found myself a well-paying gig in the engineering industry, and life finally feels like it’s returning to normal after my nine months...
The Old Paradigm’s Demoralizing Orthodoxies Make Us Confuse Despair With Realism
Arlene Goldbard · 832 views today · Undergraduates ask me how to keep from getting cynical and demoralized, and my first question is how much mainstream news media they consume each day.
A Hauntingly Beautiful Short Film About Life and Death
5 min · 773 views today · The Life of Death is a touching handdrawn animation about the day Death fell in love with Life.
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 756 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
Climate Change Crisis (Bernie Sanders Vs Hillary Clinton)
4 min · 747 views today · What are Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton going to do about Climate Change? We are under attack, and the attack is coming from climate change. Al Gore warns Bernie Sanders...
The Asshole Factory
Umair Haque · 744 views today · My good friend Mara has not one but two graduate degrees. From fine, storied universities. Surprise, surprise: the only “job” she was able to find was at a retail...
Depression Is a Disease of Civilization: Hunter-Gatherers Hold the Key to the Cure
Sara Burrows · 714 views today · Depression is a global epidemic. It is the main driver behind suicide, which now claims more than a million lives per year worldwide. One in four Americans will suffer from...
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into A Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 701 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
Without Saying a Word This 6 Minute Clip From Samsara Will Make You Speechless
6 min · 643 views today · Can you put this video into words? It's a clip from the phenomenal documentary Samsara, directed by Ron Fricke, who also made Baraka.  If you're interested in watching...
I Believe In The Good Things Coming
7 min · 549 views today · Uplifting and inspritational music video from Nahko and Medicine for the People, taken from their album Black as Night. Features footage of the band on the road and the...
Looking for More Meaning in Your life? Then Be a Part of This Movement. Be a Part of This Story.
6 min · 535 views today · It's happening. A movement of movements representing millions of people in every country of the world, all working to create an ecologically sustainable, spiritually...
The Top 100 Documentaries We Can Use to Change the World
Films For Action · 458 views today · A more beautiful, just and sustainable world is possible. Take this library and use it to inspire global change!
HUMAN (2015)
382 min · 457 views today · What is it that makes us human? Is it that we love, that we fight? That we laugh? Cry? Our curiosity? The quest for discovery?  Driven by these questions, filmmaker and artist...
Load More
Like us on Facebook?