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Expansion: The Heart of It

Lynchburg Launch

CCL Director of Field Development Elli Sparks leads a group launch in Lynchburg, VA.

Our goal for 2014: Cover every district with 300 chapters

By Elli Sparks
Director of Field Development

Which conservative member of Congress will stand first for a revenue neutral carbon tax?  At this point, we do not know.  We do know that, in order to win, others must join quickly and courageously.

Before courage, conviction of the heart will call.  Thoughts of grandchildren may inspire action – Grandma, you were in Congress when people learned about climate change.  What did you do? – or, perhaps faith.  A larger purpose will tug at heart strings and create a desire to lead.

Letters, opeds, editorials, facts, and information will grant the mind permission to follow the heart’s desires.

Because we cannot predict which member of Congress will lead, we will ask every one of them.  So, this year, we need volunteers in every district.

CCL started with one group in San Diego seven years ago. With 179 chapters and eight on the calendar to launch in May and June, we intend to have 300 groups by the end of 2014.

Who helps with expansion?  All of us.

A Texas volunteer (retired military) wants his American Legion to collaborate with CCL.  He has set about making that happen.

After starting their own CCL groups, Unitarian Universalist members are reaching out to sister churches in other cities.  These days, one-quarter to one-third of new CCL groups come through UU connections.

Pachamana offers a transformative education series called “Up to Us,” encouraging people to join CCL or Move to Amend.  About 10% of folks on our Wednesday night Intro Call come from Pachamama.

Volunteer Match listings generate another 15% or so.

Dr. James Hansen consistently mentions CCL in his blog postings, articles, and speeches.

Word of mouth works wonders.  CCL volunteers contact family and friends near and far, informing them that their member of Congress might lead on climate solutions if only they were asked.

As ideas bubble up all over the country, many volunteers want to know where to focus outreach.  We have a list of states with data about Congressional Districts, CCL groups, and potential growth that you can download here: Groups List

Superstar states with more CCL groups than congressional districts have stellar outreach volunteers. Friendly and relentless, these volunteers speak to everyone about CCL.  They never pre-judge.  If someone shares disbelief in climate change, they agree; climate change is “un-believable”.  They share their personal journey from ignoring global warming to surrendering to the call to action.  If someone feels frustrated with Congress, our volunteers empathize.  I used to feel the same way.  Then, I asked myself, who is in charge of Congress?  That’s me!  And, that’s you and that fellow over there.  We are in charge of Congress and, frankly, climate change is too big of an issue to sit on the sidelines and complain.

Part of outreach success comes from attitude.  Success also requires planning and action.

In Michigan, Elizabeth Dell arranged a two week speaking tour for Lynate Pettengill. The tour concluded with a group start workshop to which Lynate had invited everyone along the way.  Four groups launched that day and others continue to emerge five months later.

Jay Butera adopted Florida.  Living in Philly but captivated by the threat climate changes poses in southern Florida, Jay intends to galvanize members of Florida’s congressional delegation around a Florida Climate Caucus, which he invented.  He spent 10 days in Miami making new friends and introducing people to CCL. Look for new groups all the way to Key West.

Ask them what works and our volunteers will tell you: try one thing, then try another, try 100 things, and push yourself way outside of your comfort zone.  Stay focused.  Your passion for the climate will sustain you.

Several states lack any CCL groups and many states have fewer groups than Congressional districts.  These places need the most help.  If you want to help, please contact me at 804-475-6775.  I have specific tasks you can do or we can follow your lead (and your heart).  We will find that conservative congressional leader who champions a carbon fee and dividend.  His or her actions will inspire bi-partisan support that sweeps our bill all the way to the President’s desk for signature.

Steve Valk is Communications Coordinator for Citizens' Climate Lobby. Steve joined the CCL staff in 2009 after a 30-year career with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.