Owning the Narrative, Solving for Climate
The Harnessing Climate Narrative Project aims to embolden independent community power building organizations in low income and communities of color to shift the story on climate change. The project aims to address the persistent gap in durable communications capacity built to drive a narrative power building strategy. This gap is talked about frequently, yet not fully addressed nor adequately invested in by the philanthropic community in a comprehensive way.
While grassroots power-building organizations continue to grow and activate base through alliances and electoral strategies, they do not yet wield sufficient influence, coordination, and capacities to drive the story on climate change in a way that wins hearts, minds, and power to govern from a bold vision. This project focuses on organizations and leaders who see a narrative shift as an arena of power connected to other core strategies of base building, advocacy and crafting social infrastructure capable of wielding and influencing political power before, during and after elections.
Following scoping in 2017, in 2018 Solidago engaged in a co-designed process with community-based and national partners to identify the gaps and needs. National design partners included Center for Story-Based Strategy (CSS) Peoples Action and Do Big Things (DBT) as well as other thought partners Solutions Project, Climate and Clean Energy Equity Fund, Reframe Media, and other narrative thinkers and leaders. Over the past year, we initiated gap assessments on organizational capacity, cornerstone assessments that included story-based strategy trainings and exposure to platforms and tools such as the Climate Advocacy Lab. Our focal point is on organizations and networks whose core aim is to build independent community-rooted power.
States and Organizations
- California: California Environmental Justice Alliance (an alliance of 10 community-based organizations)
- Florida: New Florida Majority, Organize Florida, Miami Climate Alliance,
- Massachusetts: Community Labor United, Neighbor to Neighbor
- New Mexico: Center for Civic Policy, Progress Now New Mexico
- Virginia: New Virginia Majority & others
What we have learned so far is that …
- Groups have a sophisticated understanding of how climate and clean energy integrates into a larger system of issues.
- There are persistent and gnarly challenges to shifting narrative and all organizations consistently lacked basic communications infrastructure, ability to retain highly qualified staff and outsourcing functions such as media firms has pros/cons.
- There is a hunger to link deep relational organizing with broad digital reach and ideas on how to shift organizing practices to expand the cultural power of their base with tools and resources.
- Short-term tactical communications continue to follow a boom and bust cycle during elections at the price of durable infrastructure between cycles and there is a hunger for doing it differently.
- Groups are open and interested to work with resource partners yet do not have the staff or resources to fully build potential.
- Each site has its own unique context, strengths and gaps in infrastructure and will require collaborative prioritizing to buildout efficiency and durability.
- The traction and success these groups are experiencing moving a climate justice and equity agenda poise them for amplified impact with targeted attention and resources to build communications capacity for narrative power building.
Where do we go from here?
The time is now. We have been talking about the narrative gap for years. We know what we need and our data makes this explicit and unapologetic. We want change in 2020 and the time is now. In 2019, we must invest to onboard capacity, test narrative and digital strategies linked to civic engagement in local campaigns, primaries and experiments.
Join us to strategize. To invest.