How SanDiego350 is Building a Movement

By Pia Piscitelli, Public Policy Team Co-Leader

I’m proud to be part of an organization that learns from successful historical movements, such as the civil rights movement and the women’s suffrage movement, to develop its own theory of political change. These movements brought widespread change by concentrating on three main drivers: grassroots organizing, local action and policy, and connection to a larger movement.

These components are the principles guiding SanDiego350’s mission to build a movement to prevent the worst impacts of climate change and climate injustice.

Grassroots organizing

Governments and fossil fuel companies bank on the status quo. It’s so much easier for them to keep things the way they are. Fossil fuel companies deploy massive profits created off the exploitation of our planet to lobby governments, advertise their “commitment” to renewables (greenwashing alert!), and control our politicians. It creates an endless cycle centered around fossil fuel use.

In order to break the cycle and create a fossil free world, we need all hands on deck demanding change. When we turn out en masse, we put pressure on the system so people in power can’t ignore us. SanDiego350 is building a grassroots movement by continually growing our volunteer base, working in coalition with a diverse range of groups and organizations, and fostering leaders within our volunteer base. 

Local action and policy

SanDiego350 has been effective advocating for policy change on the local level. There are more opportunities to affect change on the local level, plus there’s more ability to influence local officials and decision makers. It takes far fewer numbers and resources to influence local policy, and local action can prompt larger national and global actions and policy changes. 

Connection to a larger movement

SanDiego350’s connection to the larger 350.org global movement helps motivate folks to take action and better leverages everyone’s efforts. 350 groups around the world build widespread awareness for 350 efforts, which drives new volunteers to join the movement. Through shared resources, branding, training, and more, SanDiego350 benefits from collective knowledge and can build on resources to best affect change in the region.

SanDiego350’s theory of change in action

This is all great in theory, but what does it look like in practice?

This past fall, SanDiego350 started a building electrification campaign. To date, there are 40 cities in California that have some form of building electrification ordnance in place, but most are located in Northern California. It’s vital that San Diego electrifies our buildings to reach our climate goals. If we don’t start working on this now, we’ll be married to natural gas and fossil fuels for years to come. 

Fossil fuel companies like SDG&E don’t want to see building electrification happen in San Diego despite study after study showing we must do this for public health and our planet. Why? SDG&E is a fracked gas company and makes their profits off polluting our planet. They wield a lot of power locally and have a history of breaking agreements and funding political campaigns to buy influence.

If we want to electrify our buildings and achieve our climate action goals, we must come together to escalate the pressure on elected officials and cities.

We’re building a coalition of individuals, groups, and organizations to work on our common goal together. We’re leading educational programs, events, trainings, and more to bring more San Diegans into the movement and demanding change. We’re countering propaganda and backdoor meetings between elected officials and power-hungry companies like SDG&E. 

To be most effective at electrifying our buildings, we need you. 

We have building electrification resources and educational webinars coming soon–make sure you’re signed up for the newsletter to hear about all upcoming events and activities. 

We’re looking for volunteers! We have volunteer working groups that always welcome new members. Additionally, we have calls to action to advocate for building electrification in cities throughout the region. Make sure you’re signed up for our newsletter to get monthly alerts or join the Public Policy Team for regular updates and action items. SanDiego350 is building a movement to prevent the worst impacts of climate change and climate injustice. To do that, we need everyone. Will you join us?

About Masada D

Masada Disenhouse co-founded SanDiego350 in 2011 and serves as its Executive Director. She is passionate about engaging volunteers and growing a powerful climate change movement.

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