Here is an update on our efforts to make a stronger environmental movement


Dear allies:

If you are receiving this email, you have either expressed interest in the Council for 16,000* initiative in the past, or were instrumental in its development. We are tremendously grateful for everyone’s support and ideas, and it is our pleasure to update you on the initiative’s most recent developments, as well as the exciting outcomes from our summer convening at the Johnson Foundation’s Wingspread conference center.

As you know, the ability of grassroots base-building organizations and big green groups to effectively collaborate to advance common goals has been a persistent obstacle within the environmental movement.  This summer, grassroots groups, large, national green groups and philanthropy launched a collaborative initiative to address this challenge. From July 8-11, 40 representatives from these sectors convened around a simple hypothesis—that to increase the collective impact of the environmental movement, we need to increase alignment and equity within the movement overall.  In other words, grassroots organizations must be able to expand and contribute their base-building capacity in a meaningful way (equity) and various parts of the movement must be working with a common strategy and purpose (alignment).  Yet rather than dictating how the groups should achieve these goals, we worked to ensure their ideas, needs, and desires led the agenda, allowing relationship-building to support the co-creation of a group-led vision and strategy.

By all accounts, the meeting was a success. Participants voluntarily decided to create a common vision statement and strategy as integral steps toward building alignment and equity within the environmental field.  One major element of that vision, to which all the participants enthusiastically agreed, was to strategize ways in which more resources can be directed to the grassroots organizing sector in the future, in order to build an environmental movement with the scale to take on the massive ecological challenges we face.  Participants also committed to forging new partnerships between grassroots and national groups, and to outlining principles that will effectively guide those collaborations. The group began creating a work plan that includes mapping resources and needs throughout the movement, expanding communications infrastructure for environmental justice work, and continuing to build authentic relationships among grassroots organizations, big green groups and funders.  As participants sharpen and expand these plans in the coming months, we will continue to update allies and share ideas.The meeting concluded with every participant committing to developing a piece of the plan, including, significantly, agreement from national green group and philanthropic allies to start strategizing how resources can shift to better support grassroots capacity building.  This meeting, under the formulation “equity + alignment = impact,” took a small but significant step toward closing the wide gulf between grassroots and national organizations. Together we started planting the seeds for a new environmental movement — crafting tangible, actionable and unprecedented bridges.

We are now building off the momentum of the incredible work done over the summer, and this fall the group is continuing to develop a structure for moving forward, to make the vision born at Wingspread a reality.  Specifically, this means putting leadership of the initiative in the hands of the groups themselves — with foundation allies shifting to a support role.

We are extremely excited about these new agreements and plans, especially so considering the historic rifts and tense dynamics between grassroots and large, national green groups. A tangible, shared, and equitable plan built in solidarity by grassroots, big greens and funders will be unprecedented, and throughout our days at Wingspread we made major strides toward achieving that goal.  Thanks to this convening, with support from The Overbook Foundation, the Johnson Family Foundation, the Clif Bar Family Foundation and the Johnson Foundation at Wingspread, we are crossing new terrain in building a more aligned and equitable and, thus, effective environmental movement.  We invite your comments, questions and ideas about how to keep the momentum going, and we look forward to sharing progress with you as the initiative expands!

With excitement and gratitude,

Building Equity and Alignment Initiative* (formerly Council for 16,000) Wingspread Retreat Participant List:

Angela Adrar, Rural Coalition
Maria Aguiar, La Via CampesinaAngela Anderson, Union of Concerned Scientists

Kalila Barnett, Alternatives for Community & Environment

Jose Bravo, Just Transition Alliance

Adrienne Maree Brown, co-facilitator

Lena Desmond, Overbrook Foundation
Mike Ewall, Energy Justice Network
Bill Gallegos, Communities for a Better Environment
Jihan Gearon, Black Mesa Water Coalition
Tom Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network

Sarah Hansen, consultant

Samantha Harvey, Overbrook Foundation
Sarah Hodgdon, Sierra Club

Taj James, Movement Strategy Center, co-facilitator
Jill Johnston, Southwest Workers Union

Daniel Katz, Overbrook Foundation
Ife Kilimanjaro, East Michigan Environmental Action Council
Burt Lauderdale, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth

Ananda Lee Tan, consultant and Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives
Princess Lucaj, Gwich’in Steering Committee
Cecilia Martinez, Center for Earth, Energy and Democracy

Michelle Andrea Martinez, Consortium of Hispanic Agencies/ADELANTE
Ahmina Maxey, Zero Waste Detroit/GAIA

Jayme Montgomery Baker, WI League of Young Voters Education Fund

Richard Moore, Environmental Justice & Health Alliance
Svein Newman, Northern Plains Resource Council/WORC
Jeff Ordower, Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment/Rising Tide North America
Phil Radford, Greenpeace
Mark Randazzo, EDGE Funders Alliance
Joel Reynolds, Natural Resources Defense Council

Arlene Rodriguez, consultant
Joaquín Sánchez, Los Jardines Institute/Youth 4 Climate Justice
Nicky Sheats, New Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance
Jumana Vasi, CS Mott Foundation
Kim Wasserman, Little Village Environmental Justice Organization
Cindy Wiesner, Grassroots Global Justice Alliance/Climate Justice Alliance
Elizabeth Yeampierre, UPROSE / NYC EJ Alliance
Miya Yoshitani, Asian Pacific Environmental Network

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