United in what we will stop (X) and what we will build (sun)
To show we are unified across the world in our demands, we’re asking people to organise an event locally that include the visuals of the Fossil Free orange cross (for what we want to stop – fossil fuels) and the sun (for what we want to build – solar power, wind power, people power!).
From graffiti, to stencils, to paper plates, to costumes, to using your bodies, how can you include these visuals in your action? Fabric and paper decorated with your key message and taken from an aerial or group shot can create quick
and compelling images. Could you ask people to paint their arms orange and cross them / paint their arms yellow and do an arms-raised circle? Can you adapt it to your local context? Suns can become sunflowers, wind can become pinwheels.
Can your action create a narrative arc moving from resistance to hope, for instance, moving from a “die-in” or crossing arms in the shape of orange cross showing resistance to new fossil fuel projects, to creating a sun for the real climate action we need for a just transition to 100% renewable energy for all?
Hold a mass mural mobilisation:
Involve people in co-creating a street mural, to amplify your message both visually and by engaging in a unique form of positive, family friendly mass participatory action. You could use the Fossil Free orange cross or Sun symbol as inspiration for your mural. You could pick a prompt question to inspire your art like “What would create climate justice in your community”.
By being participatory, it could create excitement to come down and be part of it. Doing something together can help build community and the skills and spirit to campaign together in the future. It’s visual nature will leave an immediate and lasting message for your target, media, and the watching onlookers. Can you get media coverage by making it the largest street mural your country has seen?
You could choose a location outside a political target, or with access for aerial photography, or visible from many side, or parks for those who want to remain off the streets.
The painting can be quick, take photos and disappear, or last all day. While it is happening, you can incorporate other action elements like a teach-in, speeches, community testimony, poems, prayers, music and song. After it’s finished, you can create unified and thoughtful moments by holding hands, praying, singing or moving around it. It could be its own event, or be one creative part of a larger event.
You can make it as safe or disruptive as you like, either getting permissions and drawing in chalks and paints that can be washed away, or drawing on large cloth that can be removed, or it can be used as a form of blockade, stopping traffic to give a clear message to local leaders for your demands.
To represent the awesome power of the wind, plant hundreds of pinwheels in a central public location where many people will see, or even outside your local target that you’re requesting to pledge to switch to renewables, like outside the town hall or in the ground of your university or school (they could be handmade). They can easily be cleared away again after your action, leaving no damage.
For instance, the Pacific Climate Warriors will show the renewable energy power they want to build with these local pinwheels made of coconut leaves, planting them outside their target institution: places of worship.
Image credit: StoriesfromKiribati.com
Aerial Photo: Show the People Power behind your message
With aerial photography the medium is the message. The presence of many people communicates that this is something important to many people, the image formed by the people communicates the message. Getting this right requires some preparation: think about shadows and the position of the sun, if you want people to wear colors, if you’ll be shooting from an angle remember that the image will be foreshortened.
Lots of people (well, people aren’t materials – but you’ll need lots of them!)
Something tall to take a picture from.
Chalk or string to mark your image.
Fly the flag for climate:
Flags have long been used to symbolise a united movement and send urgent messages. You can get together beforehand to paint your message for real climate leadership on a flag, and on the day come together to raise it outside your local target.
Raising the flag creates a crescendo and ceremonial moment for your action. It could be celebratory tone, as the flag is raised with your message above it stands for hope and unity. Flying the flag at half-mast can symbolise a mark of respect, honouring or memorialising communities affected by climate impacts and the fossil fuel industry, and disappointment in the slow pace of climate action.
Having dozens of flags held by those taking action can create colour and movement. You can mark your flag with the Rise mobilisation unifying symbols of the fossil free orange cross and the sun. If there are particular communities and groups joining together for the action, they could each paint or bring their own flag that represents their group, and write on it what they are rising for.
You could co-create flag bunting with dozens of individual messages, giving a family friendly atmosphere. Ask people to write a personal message on a triangle of paper, perhaps with a question like “What would bring climate justice where you live?”, and together add them to a common piece of string, raising up a flag bunting.
Markers and paint to add messages
Big flag: Cotton or nylon fabric, flag staff for instance a broom handle or tree branch, Lightweight Fabric Paint, glue.
Handheld flags: Paper for the flag, paper rolled for the handle, sticky tape.
Flag bunting: Paper triangles, string, sticky tape, scissors.
Raise your voices:
Share what you are rising for! With a group, start a call and response. One person names something they are rising for, and the group replies “Rise!”. For instance, Person: “For climate jobs!” Group: “Rise!”. Person: “For climate justice!” Group: “Rise!”. Person: “For clean air!” Group: “Rise!”. Person: “For my grandchildren!” Group: “Rise!”. Person: “For those suffering climate impacts” Group: “Rise!”
It can include personal testimony: Person: “In 2012 my house was destroyed in the flood! We lost everything. My kids still fear the rain.” Group: “Rise!”
It could include resistance: Person: “The fracking company is polluting our water and threatening our land and homes!” Group: “Resist!”
Singing together is a great way to bring unity, emotion, and fun to an action. You can sing simple songs together. Or invite a choir to sing. Drums, poetry – what other ways can you raise noise for climate action?
Raise your balloon banner:
Create a gently disruptive message they can’t forget. This simple little stunt allows you to get your message into a hard to reach spot – and stay there! Find the right location for this: a high-ceiling with strategic significance or where many people will pass by, such as a townhall, or university that hasn’t divested from fossil fuels. Perhaps do this during a specific event where you will have a target audience. Just remember to keep everything as light as possible: paint, fabric, string, rod, everything – otherwise you might not get the lift you need.
As well as writing your demand, you could paint your balloons with Suns and Fossil Free crosses, with your demands on them. Just remember to paint the message on the BOTTOM of the balloon so it can be seen from the ground.
Lightweight Fabric Paint
Raise a light
Many of our communities face repeated blackouts, unaffordable energy bills (while energy companies make big profits), or a lack of connection to electricity altogether. Candles and the breaking of the dawn are often symbols of hope against the darkness. These are tactics that work between dusk and dawn. Hold a candle-lit event in a public space, or at the location of your local target, calling for the renewable energy future that they could support. Candle-lit or solar-powered lanterns could light the way on a night-time march. Chinese lanterns can “Rise” with our messages and hope into the sky. Hold events at dawn to start your day of Rising. Display a simple message with candles or light bulbs. You can also draw a sun or a cross, rather than letters and words.
Other things that rise:
Hold a kite festival: We know wind power is fantastic. Paint messages and decorate kites with your messages, and fly them outside the location of your local target, like a town hall.
Hot air balloons, blimps, inflatables – what other ways can you raise your message for your local target to see, that will capture public and media attention?
Real climate action crossroads – carnival:
Hold a street carnival, parade, party, gig or concert outside your local target where people are invited to have fun – by dressing up or making beautiful props to carry, that represent the fossil fuel industry and climate destruction that will happen if we don’t take real climate action. Others can dress/carry props to represent the positive future through power of the sun, wind, or tidal energy and people power that will come if we do take real action now. Great for kids, students, and all adults that love to play. You can add music, food, spoken word, and games.
It can be as family-friendly or as playfully disruptive as you like. Perhaps occasionally the party of sun, wind and tide costumes will momentarily blow through the offices of your town hall, or through a dirty piece of fossil fuel infrastructure.
Sit down to rise up: Townhall takeovers
Sit-ins (or die-ins) can be an easy way to get people to step a toe towards escalated action and civil disobedience, without risking too much. Can you occupy your townhall, university, or key public space to highlight the problem and demand real climate action? When organising a sit-in (or a die-in), the most important thing is to choose your location carefully – it obviously has to have a meaning connected to your demand or your target, but it also has to be an iconic place – not too large (so that your group doesn’t look lost in the middle of a giant square) but not too small either (so that pictures can have some magnitude).
If you organise a die-in, you can draw the forms of the many bodies using white-chalk, so that something remains once you’re gone.
Create a homework dilemma
In places where homes and schools are not connected to energy supply, suffer repeated blackouts, or parents are struggling with unaffordable energy prices, and the goal is to get support for renewable energy to be built for schools and homes, hold an action where students do their homework or study for exams in the local government building, mayor’s building or town hall.
The aim is to create a dilemma for the local government, who would be seen as mean for evicting peaceful students who want to study but can’t due to lack of energy supply, but who also can’t let the students stay there in their local government building indefinitely. This may help polarise public opinion, to pick a side, of the peaceful students demanding renewable energy for their schools, or local government who aren’t tackling the lack of energy problem, hopefully increasing public support for the campaign and its goal.
For this to work, students must maintain non-violent discipline: for instance it can help if they conduct themselves politely, quietly, are dressed in uniform or the smartest clothes they have, and that their only action is to sit and study their books. They can hand out leaflets quietly explaining their action and their demand. This action could be repeated week after week to increase pressure, and could be carried out in multiple locations by self-organising student groups across a city or country.
Spotlight real climate leaders
When New York Mayor De Blasio announced the city would pull pensions out of fossil fuels and sue the fossil fuel industries key players for the impact of increasing climate disasters, he lit the iconic Empire State Building green. If your target is close to making a commitment to new genuine climate action, can you work with them to help spotlight their action?
Climate leadership pledge/petition
You can create a petition with your demands to present to your local leader and ask them to commit to real climate leadership – Once you’ve reached a significant number of supporters, you can organise a creative action to deliver it on Sept 8th. (Or if you have an existing petition with fossil free or renewable energy demands, the Rise moment could be a great time to hand it in!) That way, you’re likely to capture the attention of local media – which will give your group more visibility, and will force your target to address your demands. Your action can aim at showing the number of supporters that you have – you can carry heavy boxes, filled with all the signatures you’ve collected; you can come in a large group to your target’s offices and say that you are all representing hundreds, if not thousands of citizens and that you want to meet your mayor, a council member, a business leader, etc. You can rent a billboard to publicise the demand.