Go team! Coaching new CCL groups

Indiana climate group

Climate Advocate Training workshop attendees in New Albany, Indiana, on Feb. 24

Go team! Coaching new CCL groups

By Flannery Winchester

Christine Missik and Kristina Lindborg are CCL volunteers in Bloomington, Indiana. Beyond their own chapter, they’ve done outreach in Indiana’s 1st, 3rd, and 9th congressional districts in their role as “Group Development Coaches.” The role is exactly what it sounds like: coaching and developing new CCL groups.

“We have been finding out what congressional districts need a CCL chapter and helping to get one started,” explains Christine, who is retired from her career as a psychiatrist and is a mom of three grown children. “We also have been working to help start chapters in districts where a second chapter makes sense.”

What does Group Development Coaching entail?

Kelsey Straub Indiana climate group

Kelsey Straub was on the New Albany host committee, which planned last weekend’s training workshop.

The program works like this: volunteers act as “coaches” to help get new CCL chapters off the ground. First, the appropriate state coordinator will tell the Group Development Coach what nearby area needs a CCL chapter. Then, the Coaches find people to serve on a temporary “host committee” in that area. Those folks will plan a Climate Advocate Training workshop (CATw) and invite locals to it. Group Development Coaches support the host committee every step of the way. Then, once the CATw takes place, hopefully the host committee members and the CATw attendees go on to form a new CCL chapter.

To organize like this in a new area, Christine shared five practical tips that have worked for her and Kristina:

    1. Make phone calls. Christine says, “It is a lot of work, but phone calls results in engaging more people. If someone answers their phone so that you can speak with them, there is a good chance they will say ‘yes.’”
    2. Start small. “If you are contacting someone who doesn’t know you and doesn’t know CCL, make your ask for something that doesn’t require a lot of commitment to get them started.”
    3. Work together. Pair people up to plan things together or to serve as co-leaders for a set period of time. That way, Christine says, “It is not all on one person’s shoulders, and people are not promising to do it forever.” People are more likely to participate in joining the host committee and planning the Climate Advocate Training workshop if they feel this support. “Things that seemed to be anxiety provoking or difficult suddenly seem possible if you team up with someone else.”
    4. Stay nonpartisan. “Many people who are interested in becoming involved are also involved with local politics—for example, campaigning for certain candidates in the election. However, many of the same people are attracted to the nonpartisan nature of CCL. We emphasize that CCL is nonpartisan, and we leave our partisan hats at the door.”
    5. Keep at it.Don’t be discouraged by poor attendance at a meeting,” Christine says. “We have had some Zoom meetings with just one or two people showing up, but were still able to get a new chapter started because people did help with publicity, despite not being able to make it to our online planning meeting.”

Of course, Kristina says, “Each experience is unique and will develop its own story line.” Each district has its own local issues and concerns, and you’ll build new relationships there, so it’s helpful to go in with an open mind and stay flexible.

Connecting with communities across Indiana

Serving as Group Development Coaches has brought Kristina and Christine in contact with people of all political stripes. “The New Albany area is predominantly Republican,” says Kristina. They built up a strong host committee there, held a Climate Advocate Training on Feb. 24, and have already identified the co-leaders for this new chapter. Northeastern Indiana is another area that “leans very heavily Republican” according to Kristina, “although its largest city, Fort Wayne, has a Democratic mayor.” She and other Group Development Coaches have used CCL flyers and trainings to connect with people.

Indiana climate group

(L-R) Don Briggs, Rebecca Wyatt, Nancy Moldenhauer, and Brian Meyers. Their new CCL group, located in Indiana’s 1st district, had its first meeting on Jan. 16.

“No matter where you go, and no matter what the election results say, there are dedicated people across Indiana who care deeply about having a clean, healthy environment and a vibrant economy for future generations,” Kristina says. “As I get to know the Republican districts we are working in, I am struck by the local grassroots groups that have formed around such issues as recycling and forest protection, for example. It has been a privilege to get to know so many talented individuals who are working to make a difference in their communities.”

Despite those concerns, it can be tough for people to speak up on climate when they aren’t sure what others might think. Kristina says, “A common theme we’ve heard is that people are reluctant to express their opinions for fear of offending neighbors, coworkers, or fellow members of community organizations.” CCL’s work helps to connect everyone who is concerned about these issues. “One host committee member recently expressed that it was so reassuring and energizing to discover through our outreach that there are other people in their district with similar concerns,” says Kristina.  

More than just chapter growth

Indiana climate group radio

To raise awareness about CCL’s work, New Albany host committee member Brittany Harris did a radio interview with fellow host committee member Grant Brown.

Right now, CCL is looking to recruit new Group Development Coaches for the next round of the program, which will happen over the next few months, culminating in a lot of Climate Advocate Training workshops in May. If you’d like to help out, contact CCL’s Field Development Director Elli Sparks.

In addition to helping CCL’s chapter count go up, you’ll also be building political will throughout America for major climate action. “Most of the public does not know about this important chance for a bipartisan solution to climate change,” Christine says. “The more chapters out there, the more the public will be informed and representatives influenced. Even just the process of starting chapters helps to educate the public.”

Kristina agrees. “Thanks to the Climate Advocate Workshop, we have more people who know about our solution and are prepared to support it.”

Become a Group Development Coach with CCL today! Contact CCL’s Field Development Director Elli Sparks.

Flannery Winchester
Flannery Winchester has put her words to work for magazines, for marketing agencies, and now for our earth as CCL's Communications Director. She is grateful to spend every day working to preserve this beautiful planet.