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
Trending Today
The Real Reason America Used Nuclear Weapons Against Japan. It Was Not To End the War Or Save Lives.
Washington's Blog · 28,606 views today · Like all Americans, I was taught that the U.S. dropped nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in order to end WWII and save both American and Japanese lives. But most of the...
Trump Turned Down the Debate for Fear of a Sanders Nomination
Liam Miller · 25,078 views today · Trump recently waffled about debating Sanders; he said he would for $10M to charity. He must not have expected the money to materialize. It did; and he bailed. But why? It...
Establishment Democrats Courting Disaster
John Atcheson · 15,908 views today · In the 1964 film classic, Dr. Strangelove, Slim Pickens is seen riding a nuclear bomb down to his certain death – and perhaps to the end of us all – while he calmly inventories...
Harry Patch: Anti-War Hero
6 min · 15,269 views today · Harry Patch had no time for, 'Thieving politicians lies'. Poem: Heathcote Williams Narration: Alan Cox Montage: Alan Cox and Margaret Cox
Scientists Puzzled by Slowing of Atlantic Conveyor Belt, Warn of Abrupt Climate Change
Mike Gaworecki · 8,529 views today · Scientists are increasingly warning of the potential that a shutdown, or even significant slowdown, of the Atlantic conveyor belt could lead to abrupt climate change, a shift...
Memorializing the Horrors of War With 10 Must-See War Films
John W. Whitehead · 7,510 views today · “The horror... the horror...”—Apocalypse Now (1979) “You can’t show war as it really is on the screen, with all the blood and gore. Perhaps it would be better if you could...
Silencing America as It Prepares for War
John Pilger · 7,267 views today · Returning to the United States in an election year, I am struck by the silence. I have covered four presidential campaigns, starting with 1968; I was with Robert Kennedy when...
Used and Betrayed - 100 Years of US Troops as Lab Rats
31 min · 4,851 views today · On Memorial Day, politicians will speak at ceremonies all over the country and repeat their favorite mantra: “Support the troops.” This pledge is hammered into the American...
Brené Brown on How to Reckon with Emotion and Change Your Narrative
Brené Brown · 4,826 views today · The most powerful stories may be the ones we tell ourselves, says Brené Brown. But beware—they're usually fiction.
War, Propaganda and the Media: A Detailed Primer on the Tactics of Modern War Propaganda
Anup Shah · 4,405 views today · We must remember that in time of war what is said on the enemy’s side of the front is always propaganda, and what is said on our side of the front is truth and righteousness...
Hello Darkness, My Old Friend: Why Hillary Refuses to Debate Sanders Before the California Primary
Saib Bilaval · 3,920 views today · After Hillary Clinton recently reneged on her promise to debate Bernie Sanders in California, the real reasons for the refusal appear to be very different. The longer the...
Live Rich: A Spoken Word Film about The True Meaning of Wealth
4 min · 3,466 views today · This consumer madness is consuming us. Follow Buy Nothing Day on Twitter and Facebook. Video by Gary Turk.
It Didn't Start With You: How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We Are
Mark Wolynn · 3,181 views today · The past is never dead. It’s not even past. — William Faulkner, Requiem for a Nun
The Little Man Who Lives in My Head
Zee Chang · 3,041 views today · “It finally clicked. I have bad self esteem when it comes to men.” — Journal Entry, October 27, 2015
The Invention of Capitalism: How a Self-Sufficient Peasantry was Whipped Into Industrial Wage Slaves
Yasha Levine · 2,767 views today · “…everyone but an idiot knows that the lower classes must be kept poor, or they will never be industrious.” —Arthur Young; 1771 Our popular economic wisdom says that...
Remembering All the Deaths From All of Our Wars
S. Brian Willson · 2,766 views today · We fail our duties as citizens if we remain silent about the realities of war
A World War Has Begun - Break The Silence
John Pilger · 2,240 views today · I have been filming in the Marshall Islands, which lie north of Australia, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Whenever I tell people where I have been, they ask, "Where is...
A Simple 6 Step Self Compassion Exercise to Combat Depression and Low Self Esteem
5 min · 1,783 views today · It’s all too easy to be extremely tough on ourselves; we need – at points – to get better at self-compassion. Here is an exercise in how to lessen the voices of self-flagellation.
Something Extraordinary Is Happening in the World, And Most People Haven't Noticed
Gustavo Tanaka · 1,443 views today · Most of us haven't quite realized there is something extraordinary happening. A few months ago, I freed myself from standard-procedure society. I broke the chains of fear that...
The 'Sexy Lie' We Should Be Talking About
12 min · 1,418 views today · "I am here today to talk about a lie." That's how politics professor Caroline Heldman opened her Jan. 2013 TEDxYouth San Diego talk on the topic of sexual objectification. "I'd...
Load More
Like us on Facebook?
Time to Form an Affinity Group: Direct Action on Climate Change and Preparing for Frankenstorms