Building an organizational chapter of 350.org in the City of Chicago has required patience, resolve, purpose and a general sense of the long view. For most of us involved in Chicago350, we all maintain full time occupations while generally volunteering our time, effort and skills to build out the infrastructure of and recruit new members into Chicago350.
Beyond the efforts of building the group, Chicago350 has attended myriad events over the past 2 years, such as the Green Music Festival, Chicago Green Fest at Navy Pier, the Premier of Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything and various other actions to further engage in such efforts.
During these events, we typically set up a booth to discuss with attendees the particular challenges of climate change and the efforts of 350.org to mitigate the current and potential damage caused by Global Warming and resultant Climate Disruption. During such occasions, Chicago350 has been asking Chicago residents to sign postcards asking their aldermen to support a proposed ordinance mandating the city to divest its operating budget from fossil fuel stocks and bonds and advising the unions with pension fund holdings to do the same. At this time we have gathered over one thousand postcards. We will be and have been hand delivering the postcards to the aldermen as we have obtained meetings with them.
While educating folks about climate change in general, we also have informed Chicagoan’s about our current Fossil Free campaign. Conceived as a movement for institutions to divest their holdings (Endowments, Operating Budgets, Pension Funds…) from the top 200 corporations with significant oil, gas and coal assets, 350.org has chapters organized across the United States and in countries abroad, pressuring universities, colleges, church organizations and governments to withdraw their funds from companies extracting carbon based fuels from the earth, burning said fuels and polluting the planet in a myriad number of ways including the emission of carbon into the earths atmosphere.
As our campaign has progressed, we have met people from Chicago and the greater metropolitan area interested in the issue of climate change. We have offered them the opportunity to get involved on the level of signing a postcard urging their Alderman to support our divestment initiative or to volunteer with Chicago350 and assist with the tasks of pushing the proposed ordinance through the city council. Basically, we welcome all the help anyone is willing to give our organization.
Overall, we have been building the local chapter for the last 2 plus years by steady measured progress, adding members here and there while developing a real co-operational and collegial atmosphere with the membership. We didn’t exactly know what to expect, but by all estimations, we are pleased at the interest in our divestment campaign and our organization in general.
We have recently met several Aldermen and a Deputy Treasurer for the City of Chicago to discuss divestment and find a sponsor for the divestment measure. We are confident one of the Aldermen will be our champion in the city council. We will divulge the name once he has discussed the measure with his colleagues in the city council’s Progressive Caucus. Watch this space and our Facebook page for further updates. Hopefully, in early 2016, we will have an ordinance before the city council up for a vote. During that time, we will be posting updates via Twitter, Facebook and this website for ways you too can help us pass the measure into law.
In the future, Chicago350 will continue our efforts to gain greater visibility and viability as an organization, hoping to add further members to our team and bring the issue of divestment by the City of Chicago one step closer to reality. While organizing the movement must be done with patience, perseverance and hard work, we can also have a bit of fun along the way. If you venture over to our Facebook page, you will see further videos and photos of us doing just that at a number of events throughout Chicago!
Posted by Larry Coble