The coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to dominate global headlines as its spread continues and everyone is urged to follow World Health Organisation (WHO) guidance. Mass climate strikes planned for April look in question in some places.
A WHO official just released these guidelines, relating specifically to mass protest gatherings and youth-led climate strikes. Covid-19 is deadly serious, so please read and consider these guidelines, more will likely follow.
We can’t solve a crisis without treating it as a crisis and we must unite behind experts and science.
This of course goes for all crises.
— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) March 11, 2020
Look up the public health guidelines in your area, to see if there are specific restrictions, advice or quarantines in place. Being up to date with the situation will help you make decisions that keep people in your community and elsewhere safe. This is paramount.
While we fight to bring the same level of urgency to the climate crisis, we cannot encourage people to take part in mass public gatherings at the moment. This is why we’ve compiled this initial list of ideas on how to organise creatively in these uncertain times. More guidance, training and tools are coming soon to the globalclimatestrike.net site.
With many people home-bound over the next few months, why not use this strange time to educate yourself and others further about climate science, justice and action; about campaigning tactics; how to talk to the media; or learn more about social movements? There are a number of helpful online trainings available to get you started.
We all need to get better at telling compelling, engaging stories about the struggle for climate justice and 350.org is working with youth strikers and others to bring these stories together, create spaces for climate strikers to collaborate more easily online whilst on lockdown, and help the movement continue its momentum in this crucial year, but safely.
Consider offering your own online webinars, livestreams and connect with other movements across different geographies who share similar campaign targets and a vision for the future. Use this time to plan ahead for what you can do when restrictions are lifted. To help get you started in learning more about organising on your own, we recommend these online skill-ups.
In areas with restrictions and or quarantines in place, these are some tried and tested tactics that don’t involve large public gatherings:
- Social media: Have people take a photo of themselves and share on their own social media with a common visual element, hashtag (#ClimateStrike #FridaysForFuture) or location tag. This can include inviting people to download and print a sign, or make their own with common messages. Encourage people to make it their own, by writing/drawing/colouring it themselves or by writing a sentence about why they care. Organizers can then compile and display all the posts and share them in creative ways if you tag them with #ClimateStrikeOnline #DigitalStrike.
Seattle has the coronavirus endemic in our community, so my son @solo_syn_ has been digital striking his #ClimateStrike from home. #digitalstrike #fridaysforfuture Stay Safe everyone! 💚💪🏽 pic.twitter.com/WVWuoR0nzA
— Dr. Heather Price (@huprice) March 11, 2020
- Create art: Using whatever medium you choose, you can make #Art4Climate and share it online using social media, or physically fasten your creations to your apartment door or in your windows.
- Window & door signs: As with the #Art4Climate, consider putting placards and posters somewhere visible outside to show your neighbours and community that the #ClimateStrike continues!
- Cacerolaza: Bang on pots and pans as loud as you can out of windows, balconies, or on the street in plenty of space at a set time with your community. Cacerolaza has been used around the world to deafening effect — in Puerto Rico, Lebanon, Ireland, Iceland, Quebec and across Latin America.
- Virtual Protest: Ask those who in normal times would have attended the protest to write a sign and take a photo of themselves with friends or family. Organisers can collate and print out these photos to be displayed publicly. For example, they could be laid out in front of your targeted bank or city hall with a sign explaining that for public health reasons people are protesting at home. Check out this virtual protest in the Philippines using photo wands in 2018, where organizers projected images of would-be march participants who couldn’t attend for security reasons. Globalclimatestrike.net will feature trainings on these creative tools and more ahead of April.
- Call in, email in: Mass calls, texts, emails or faxes to your local bank or other campaign target can be extremely effective in getting results. Youth strikers in Japan have been targeting their banks over coal financing this way with their Moshi Moshi campaign.
- Social media barrage: Being stuck inside is hard, but it might give you more time on your computer to get creative. Post comments about the climate crisis on your target’s social media profiles. Organise a coordinated take-down of various publicly reviewed products and brands to apply pressure on your target, or organise everyone to flood a target’s Twitter or Instagram. Team up with other climate strikers who are stuck inside in different parts of the world and support their campaigns.
If public health guidelines in your country do not restrict public gatherings, but you’re still worried about protecting public health, these are some creative ways to hold smaller actions safely with maximum impact.
- Firstly, keep your actions outside and think through how participants can wash their hands regularly throughout.
- Spacing people out at least 1 metre apart will also help. It can also have a really powerful visual impact even with fewer people. This recent Chilean feminist chant which has spread virally across the world is a powerful example of how effective this tactic could be with careful spacing and coordination.
- Offer options for people who want to stay at home to engage and support you. While a small group brings your message to a campaign target, like a bank or local politician’s office, others could amplify the message online from home to local media and through social media.
- Gather in smaller groups to do actions at different locations that carry some meaning to your campaign with just a few people in each location. This could be on many different scales: within the same city, state, region or even in different countries across the world! See this recent example from youth strikers against coal financing in Japan.
Even though you see the negative impacts of #ClimateChange everyday, Japan's #Mitsubishi is planning to build a new #coal power plant in Vietnam. That's why these activists gathered together today. Get out of Vung Ang 2. #三菱商事 #MitsubishiCorp #NoCoalJapan #StopFundingCoal pic.twitter.com/HzANwMMABc
— NoCoalJapan (@NoCoalJapan) March 3, 2020
- get your campaign online – if you usually strike outside, leaflet and hand out flyers on the streets, consider getting your campaign information up online, starting or signing online actions, and reaching out to people who should know about your story.
- Covid-19 seems to be affecting older people the most. If your group is younger, think about ways that you could support older people in your community who may be feeling isolated and in need of community. For example, young people in Rome have started offering to deliver groceries in their neighbourhood.
What happens next?
Over the next month, 350.org will be monitoring the situation very closely, bringing out more updates and guidance. We are working closely with youth strikers and groups around the world to provide creative ways for us all to keep striking for climate justice and raising up the stories the world needs to hear. Keep an eye on globalclimatestrike.net in the coming weeks for all the above.
If you have ideas for other creative online actions or would like to volunteer time to developing these with us, please fill out this quick survey and sign up.
Stay safe, look after each other and keep washing those hands.