Organizer and Activist Resources: Introduction
How to use Earth Day as a powerful catalyst to involve people in making a difference toward a healthy, prosperous, sustainable future.
Who Should Read This:
- Are up to making a difference via non-profit, public education;
- Want to enroll and empower people in working for environmental issues;
- Want contact with resources and other people doing this on a regular basis.
When Is Earth Day
Earth Day is April 22. Earth Day is most often observed by the media,
hundreds of local groups and noted on calendars on April 22..and many
observe Earth Week and Earth Month and since most events and festivals need
to take place on a weekend, ED is observed on the weekends before and
after. Others also observe it on March 21 and World Env Day is on June 6...
Why Earth Day?
Because it works. Annual occasions throughout history and in all cultures provide meaningful opportunities for celebration, education and action. Earth Day observations and celebrations include all social sectors, nationalities and cultural groups. Earth Day is a successful catalyst for ongoing environmental education, action and change. Earth Day activities offer important points of entry to address worldwide environmental concerns as well as the opportunities for individuals and communities to focus on their local environmental problems. Local activities include clean-ups, restoration projects, parades, fairs, conferences, and concerts. Because Earth Day observances broaden the base of support for environmental programs, rekindle public commitment, and enroll participation from every social and business sector, they can be used to implement wide-scale programs that bring people together to act for the common good.
Doing What Works
This guide has been compiled, written and edited by some of the best local Earth Day organizers who have direct experience in what works and doesn't work. Many organizers have come together to form the Earth Day Network in order to facilitate local Earth Day organizing activities and promote the annual public observance of Earth Day. If you want more information or advice on any topic in this manual call, fax, e-mail or write the Earth Day Network.
When is Earth Day?
Earth Day is most often observed by the media, hundreds of local groups
and noted on calendars on April 22. The President and the Vice President
of the United States deliver their "Earth Day" speeches and make other
environmental policy announcements at this time. Many also observe Earth
Week and Earth Month and since most events and festivals need to take
place on a weekend, Earth Day is observed in some places on the weekends
before and after. Others also observe it on March 21, the first day of
spring. "World Environment Day" as declared by the United Nations is on
June5. Many of the ideas in this guide can be used for WED as well.
Remember, every day is an earth day. But the most 'bang for the buck'
with the media is focused around April 22.
Earth Day Background
The first Earth Day in 1970 rallied over 20 million Americans from
around the country and on college campuses to get involved in
environmental "teach-ins." Conceptualized by Gaylord Nelson and
organized by Denis Hayes, Earth Day events featured the largest
grassroots mobilization in US history. Out of these events emerged what
has come to be known as the environmental movement and the first
environmental legislation - the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts.
For the 20th anniversary in 1990, Denis Hayes again led the effort and
more than 200 million people in 141 countries participated worldwide.
Due in large part to the efforts of hundreds of local organizers, Earth
Day is now an anticipated annual event in April.
How to Get Started
If you are new to community organizing, you may be wondering when and
where to start. The time to begin is now. What you do depends on where
you are! Are you already part of a local group? Are you looking to start
your own? What resources do you have? What environmental groups already
exist in your area? Do you have a particular issue that is driving your
One key feature of Earth Day is that it is a powerful context for all
issues. Whether you are with an issues-based group, or hoping to
organize something "just for Earth Day," you should tie-in if possible
with any general local or national Earth Day campaign. So first
determine if there is already an Earth Day organization, or other groups
who organize public events for Earth Day in your area. Call local
information and see if there are any listings for Earth Day, or [Area
Name] Earth Day (eg. San Diego Earth Day) or Earth Day [Area Name], (eg.
Earth Day Tampa Bay. If you find no listings, also ask at a local Sierra
Club or Audubon Chapter.
And/or contact the Earth Day Network for referral information. Use our
referral network and or leave a messages on our 24-hour voicemail
(619)496-6666 or send email to email@example.com.
Once you've located any local contacts - begin networking! Discover
what's already being done and in the process, find out what's missing
that you could provide or help with. If you are going to take on your
own project, keep reading for suggestions.
The Areas Organizers Manage
Every project or event has the same basic items to be organized and
managed. Whether it's a concert or parade, and clean-up or a fair, the
overall manager or management team is responsible for the following:
- Project/Event Design and Materials
- Fundraising and Contributions
- Publicity and Outreach
Calling Your First Meeting and Enrolling a Team
The key to success in this first area is sending out good invitations
which cause people to respond. There are three major types of
invitations: person-to-person (at meetings or via phone), visual (via
fliers and/or posters in the mail or in stores or offices), and via
media (newspapers, electronic mail, radio and TV). Post announcements on
the bulletin boards in your area and send a notice to local newspapers
that you are going to hold an Earth Day organizing meeting at a certain
time and place and everyone is invited. See Media Section for a sample
press release for a public meeting.
Invite as large a cross-section of your community as possible, including
all ages and cultures. Make sure notices get posted in all areas of your
community. You can arrange the location through local churches, schools,
libraries or concerned business people. You might start by asking your
employer if you can use meeting rooms at your office - or have a pot
luck at a private home.
At your meetings, whether large or small, welcome everyone. Always pass
around a sign up sheet and get everyone's name address and phone number
and fax. As you go around and do short introductions, ask folks to
mention what brought them to a meeting about Earth Day.
Present and solicit ideas on what to do for Earth Day. Write them all
down on large pieces of paper and tape them to the wall. Next, have the
group discuss and rank the ideas and add new ones. Pick the top one, two
or three and devise plans to make them happen. If you are just beginning
an Earth Day effort it may emerge that you wish to focus on one event or
service project. For any idea to become a reality, it must have a team
of people who are committed to make it happen. Each project should
establish its purpose and determine its next meeting time and location.
This is the first key sign of a functioning team. If there are many
projects you will need a "Communications" person to coordinate a
calendar and combined Earth Day media kit.
Encourage everyone who attends to bring friends with them next time. Try
to have the place for the second meeting committed ahead of time so you
don't have to waste time wondering where you can meet next.
"Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world.
Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." Margaret Mead
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This information was supplied courtesy of the Earth Day Network.