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Partnerships and Movement Ecology Script

(A scant 2 hours→ can be shortened to 1 hour 30)


  • Ground people in how we conduct ourselves when working with other organizations.
  • Empower people to move forward partnerships with Sunrise while being clear about how partnerships fit into our strategy and theory of change


  • Intro & framing Movement ecology
  • Our role
  • Solidarity, charity, extractivism
  • Scenarios
  • Principles
  • Application of principles (if time)
  • Close

Trainer Prep Checklist

  • Assign content
  • Prep slides and script
  • Print out principles

Opening/intros (including us):

2 min [TrainerA/B]

Name/pronouns/ how are you entering this space/looking to get out of it from scale of 1-5?

  • 1: I’m looking to learn about how to form partnerships
  • 5: I have lessons to share about how to form partnerships

Framing up + Agenda

2 min [Trainer A]

  • As the Sunrise Movement has grown, we get a lot of requests from groups that want to partner with us, from local Democratic Party chapters to schools to other environmental organizers.
  • There are also lots of groups that have been working on issues of environmental justice and climate issues since long before Sunrise existed! How do we engage with all of these?
    • Feel the push and pull from all these requests
    • Desire to support important local grassroots struggles
    • Also the need to organize for sweeping federal-level Green New Deal
    • How to juggle grassroots work and federal work; what is the appropriate role for sunrise and how do we fit into the broader movement for climate justice?
    • We hope to begin to answer some of these questions during this training–and know that answering these questions will be an ongoing process.
  • Agenda
    • Started with intros
    • Talk about why we’re here
    • Movement ecology: we’re in a complex ecosystem of groups
    • Where we fit in: what’s our role as Sunrise?
    • Partnership principles: We’re going to examine and think together about the draft partnership principles that a team of hub partnerships leads from around the country & our national Partnerships Director developed together.
  • Apply
    • Close by applying the principles to scenarios and thinking about what we will take forward
  • Guiding principles
    • Celebrate confusion:
      • It means we’re close to a point of breakthrough
      • Stay with us!
      • Applaud the confusion
    • Let Go
      • Lots of big theoretical questions and complicated realities on the ground
      • Let go of getting all the answers
      • Only have 2 hours, we won’t get through everything
    • Strategy goggles (what is the goal and how do we get there)
      • CLICK to goal
      • How do we get there?
  • Before we jump into the principles and practices, we’re going to start by sharing what’s bringing us each to the room

Envisioning Partnerships

10 min [Trainer B]

  • Why are you in this breakout meeting? What has been your experience with forming partnerships as part of Sunrise.
    • Pair share
    • Come back
    • Share
  • In our everyday work, we are like fish in water. We operate under certain assumptions of how our work operates, how we should relate to one another, and so on. It’s important to get our head above water and look around at the water that we’re swimming in – the culture, beliefs, practices, and ideas that are informing the way we work. Movement ecology can help us take a birds’ eye view to the entire landscape of change and start to see the water we’re swimming in and the water other people are swimming in.

Movement Ecology

10 min [Trainer A]

  • Ask: can someone read the definition
  • Scope
    • Not super broad, not super specific
    • Not included: Trump administration, ALEC
    • Included: Black Lives Matter
  • This framework was developed by Carlos Saavedra and Paul Engler of the Ayni Institute. They also trained Sunrise’s founders in their “Momentum” model of movement organizing.
    1. People who see that there is something wrong with society want to change it! People have different ideas about what kind of change is needed, different ideas about what can work, and different modes of engaging based on personality & experience. These different ideas & approaches can be roughly categorized as five “Theories of Change”, focused in three areas.
  2. [SLIDE] Three approaches to social change (give examples or elicit if with an advanced group)
    1. Alternative Institutions: build new institutions or countercultures to replace the dominant institutions and cultures
      1. Intentional communities (communes, co-op housing)
      2. Co-operatives
      3. Alternative schools
    2. Personal Transformation: change from within or starting by changing individuals, including leadership development
      1. Therapy
      2. Meditation
      3. Mentorship
      4. 12 step
      5. Dancing groups
    3. Changing dominant institutions: influencing and shaping the political and cultural institutions that govern our society
      1. Sunrise!
      2. Community organizers
      3. Unions
      4. Some politicians
    4. We’re going to break this into three theories of change[CLICK]
      1. Structure-Based Organizing: organize a base to leverage power over a decision-maker
      2. Mass Protest: shift public opinion to change the political weather
      3. Inside Game: use positions or relationships inside the dominant institutions to influence or shift them
    5. Interconnected but separate! Let’s revisit the TOC
  3. [SLIDE] TOC = A group or organization’s primary orientation & approach to social change
  4. Most organizations hold one central theory of change that they can identify as their foundational belief in how they will achieve change.
    1. Read through (summarize)
      1. Alternatives: build new institutions or countercultures to embody the world we want to see … perhaps even to replace dominant institutions!
      2. Personal Transformation: change from within or starting by changing individuals, including leadership development
      3. Structure-Based Organizing: organize an “outside” base to leverage power over an “inside” decision-maker
      4. Mass Protest: use highly visible mobilizations to shift public opinion – goal is to “change the weather” politically
      5. Inside Game: use positions or relationships inside the dominant institutions to make them enact your agenda
    2. ASK: do folks see the ways these are different?
    3. ASK: any burning clarifying questions that could help the group, knowing we are about to go deeper?
    4. (FAQ alert! “What if our organization has multiple theories of change, not just one?” See: primary and secondary theory of change)

Breakout Acvitity

12 min [Trainer A]

[SLIDE] Place yourself in the TOC you feel most drawn to, or the TOC you have the most experience with. Split into these groups.

Choose a scribe and take 10 mins to brainstorm:

  1. Orgs in the ecosystem of climate and environmental movements that use your TOC as their primary TOC (2 min)
  2. The strengths/weaknesses of your TOC (4 min)
  3. Agree on the top three strengths/weaknesses to report back (4 min)
    1. Not analysing strengths and weaknesses of specific organizations, but approaches. What’s an example of a strength of an alternative? What’s an example of a weakness?
    2. You might also find that some orgs are in 2 approaches - pay attention to which one is dominant.
    3. Be comfortable with confusion! Complexity & understanding come from confusion

Activity Follow-up

10 min [Trainer A]

  1. Report Back
    1. Each group: Top 3 strengths, top 3 weaknesses; 2-3 orgs
  2. Discussion
    1. Not analysing strengths and weaknesses of specific organizations, but approaches. What’s an example of a strength of an alternative? What’s an example of a weakness?
    2. You might also find that some orgs are in 2 approaches - pay attention to which one is dominant.
    3. Be comfortable with confusion! Complexity comes out
  3. LAND: the strengths of one are the weaknesses of the other…we need each other
  4. [SLIDE] Where does Sunrise fit??
    1. Let’s return to our mission statement. Can someone say what Sunrise is?
    2. Mass protest is our primary theory of change (we’re building an army!)
    3. Structure-based organizing is our secondary TOC through our field work and local community organizing led by hubs
    4. Optional: quick discussion of opportunities and challenges for Sunrise based on our structure and building off the previous conversation on structural strengths/weaknesses based off of different TOC
  5. [SLIDE] We are interdependent. We need each other - trust and vulnerability enough to admit that we can’t be everything and we need help, and trust that if we hold our role, others will hold theirs.
    1. An ecology thrives off of diversity– diversity is necessary, and diversity cultivates interdependence.
    2. Ecology metaphor: Just like in the natural world, if you were to take out the pollinators, that would have a HUGE impact on the ecosystem. We need the bees, the trees, the predators - the diversity is what makes a thriving ecological system because we’re all dependent on each other.
    3. We don’t want to be an invasive weed. OR:
  6. [SLIDE] Say this with me and clap on each word. We. Can’t. Do. Everything. Who can stand at the center, do everything, and do everything really well? Isn’t it hard just to do 1 of those things? Sometimes we put a lot of burden on 1 thing to deliver a vision of justice and equality we want to see in the world – important to remember that I can look to other places to do some of these things way better.
    1. I don’t know about you, but I feel a huge sense of relief when I acknowledge that.

Discussion Follow-up

Trainer B [7 min]

As we strive not to do everything, we should also understand the landscape in which we are operating, particularly work that is rooted in our community and provides our movement’s roots.

In order to build effective partnerships with the groups in our communities, we need to understand a bit about the history of organizing in our communities.

The idea of linking justice and climate did not begin with Sunrise, nor is it a new idea. Who knows where the idea of “climate justice” came from?

Looking for: Environmental justice

EJ was born out of the civil rights movement in the 60s and the environmental movement in the 60s-70s, recognizing the threat of environmental injustice on civil rights.

Does anyone recognize this photo?
  • Warren County, NC (late 1970s)–ppl view it as the birth of the modern EJ movement: a community of largely poor, black people, took non-violent direct action to stop the building of hazardous waste landfill that would pollute their drinking water; in a majority-white region, located in a majority black neighborhood: environmental racism. The decision triggered a wave of protests, one of which resulted in the arrest of a U.S. congressman and dozens of other activists who tried to block the PCB-laden trucks at the entrance to the landfill.
  • While they lost the fight to stop the project, their efforts garnered significant media attention and helped community organizers around the country to shine a light on a common pattern:environmentally hazardous sites are disproportionately sited in communities of color and poor communities.
  • This sparked and continues to inspire powerful community organizing that bridge issues of civil rights and environmentalism, and reframes pollution as an issue of injustice and inequity, of saying [CLICK] “my neighborhood is killing me” (Image from Beautiful Trouble)
  • Leaders in the movement made many of these ideas more concrete through the creation of the:
  • Still ongoing and it’s important that we remember this work for a number of reasons. One reason that matters to me is…

(write your own)

Sample local story (fom Zoë) Want to take a moment to tell you about a local environmental justice struggle in the Bay Area Five oil refineries: largely located in POC, working class neighborhood Biggest is in Richmond, CA [CLICK] This an image from August 6, 2012: exploded, luckily workers suffered only minor injuries; 15k went to the hospital Community had been organizing for decades but political system was controlled by the refinery; kicked into high gear CLICK THROUGH SLIDES Big action, hundreds arrested Organized to get Chevron-owned politicians out of office (Chevron spent millions but lost!) Share this because I’m so inspired by these activists and also bc I’ve heard people in my hub ask why people aren’t fighting this refinery and that erasure of the history of Black and Brown-led organizing is all too common in the climate movement.

Nation-wide context

Ignoring the leadership and experiences of environmental justice leaders has happened for decades at both the local and national level.

I want to share two recent examples of this happening at the national level in the past decade.

The first was the defeat of the American Clean Energy and Security Act, better known as the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade legislation [CLICK]. This legislation was pushed forward by mainstream environmental organizations despite the opposition from environmental justice communities about the unequitable impacts of Cap and Trade on low-income communities and communities of color. Deep in the weeds of technical jargon and lacking support from progressive leaders, this bill was defeated. Similarly, The Obama Administrations and allies at big environmental organizations faced a major defeat at the Copenhagen climate conference, where environmental justice and Indigenous groups did not have a seat at the table.

Why might these groups have failed?
  • They had no base of people power – especially lacking voices or leadership of frontline communities
  • Framing as a science issue, as an issue where nobody was more at fault than the next person, as an engineering problem that needed big corporate money to implement effectively.

Sunrise is committed to not repeating these mistakes, which means making sure that people at the frontlines of the climate crisis, in our movement and beyond, have a seat at the table and get to shape the conversation.

ASK: What are some major environmental and climate justice fights we’ve seen since 2013? [Looking for Keystone XL fight, and Standing Rock, the fossil fuel divestment movement, the GND]

LAND The Green New Deal articulates this same core lesson – that the climate is a social justice crisis. And we need social justice solutions to win. It does a good job connecting the climate crisis to the broader crisis of an economy that’s not working for most of us.

  • Looking at our recent history, it’s clear that in order to win, we need to honor frontline leadership and learn movement history.
  • Often when things fall apart, it connects back to how groups are engaging with each other, particularly across lines of race and class. (Big environmental groups w/ more resources, largely white led and POC-led environmental groups at the nexus of this).
  • One useful framework for thinking through how to avoid these dynamics comes from over two decades ago, when forty people of color and European-American representatives met in Jemez, New Mexico, for the “Working Group Meeting on Globalization and Trade” and created a set of principles called “Jemez Principles” to make sure that social movements themselves stay true to the values they want to see expressed in the world.
  • They are historic and something that many EJ and social justice groups use today. They are important for us to use and consider when building partnerships.

Jimez Principles

5 min [Trainer A]

  • Let’s look at the Jemez principles. [SLIDE] [Popcorn read each principle + 1 sentence recap]
  • Elicit: What from these principles feels useful for your organizining

Applying Jimez Principles to Sunrise

5 min [Trainer A]

Sunrise has a simple formulation to help us stick to the spirit of the Jemez principles

  • [SLIDE] Extractivism, never, charity, rarely; solidarity forever

Let’s dive a bit more into what this means. [SLIDE].

{two facilitation options: (A) summarize and then do the exercise below or (B)summarize and then provide or solicit examples}

  • Extractivism (Never): group receives no benefit or is even is weakened in the process. Examples:
    • Recruiting active members of other organizations to join Sunrise instead
    • Asking for Indigenous peoples, people of color, or working class people from outside Sunrise to share their personal stories publicly at Sunrise events and never forming a connection, supporting their organizing, or following up afterwards
  • Charity (Rarely): Giving your time or Sunrise’s time out of a sense of guilt, and doing so in a way that does not contribute to building people or political power. Examples:
    • Giving a presentation to a group that doesn’t share Sunrise’s values or vision for a just and equitable world because you feel obligated to do so
    • Abandoning campaigning for a GND in order to support another local campaign
  • Solidarity (Forever): Working together in a way that leaves every group stronger at the end than at the beginning; showing up to support sister movements working on other issues of justice. xamples:
    • Hosting an event or action with another organization that advances your respective goals and demonstrates shared values and common ground
    • Attending a rally for immigrant, racial, or climate justice during a key moment in their campaign
    • Working together to elect candidates who support a Green New Deal and other priorities that build a just and equitable world

Quick Exercise (Optional)

5 min [Trainer A]

Quick exercise to land to land extractivism /charity /solidarity (optional) Popcorn read slides. After reading each slide:

  • ASK: where does this fall? How could it be made more solidaristic?

Close: This is a simplified framework and figuring out how to engage with other groups in a way that builds our collective power is tricky! That’s why a small team of volunteers have been working on a set of partnerships principles for the movement. Going to turn it over to [Trainer B] to walk us through these principles

Introduce Sunrise Principles for Partnerships

10 min [Trainer B]

  • As [Trainer A] said, a group of volunteers and staff drafted these principles to combine our understanding of our role in the movement as well as how we can live up to our goal of solidarity forever
  • They have been created to support/guide hub’s efforts, so read them with an eye toward how you would apply them and what questions remain

Sunrise’s Principles for Partnerships

  • Going through Sunrise principles document
    • Popcorn read as a group
    • [HAND OUT PRINCIPLES] Re-read silently

Small Group Discussion

12 min [Trainer B]

[CLICK]: Now we’re going to split into small groups to discuss

{Two options for different sized groups}

  • (A) Big group: assign each small group 1-2 principles to discuss
  • (B) Small group: each small group discusses all principles

What resonates with you? Why?

  • What, if anything, feels confusing or challenging?
  • How do you see these applying to your hub?
    • In the past?
    • Going forward?

Lead Debrief of Discussion

10 min [Trainer A/B]

Land: These principles are a guide to support your work. Partnerships work is not one size fits all.


10 min [Trainer A/B]

Go around: what are you taking back to your hub from this training? OR What’s one question you’re still sitting with?