Summer’s ending, class is starting, and you can bet divestment will be the number one topic on everyone’s mind this year! We’re super excited about the back-to-school momentum that has been building up on campuses across Canada. Between hard-hitting op-eds, film screenings, and citywide conversations to unite the efforts of campus divestment efforts, it’s clear that this movement is starting the year with a bang.
The national movement through the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition (CYCC) has been building over the summer as well. The Tar Sands Reality Check tour is being organized to bring divestment momentum to your city through speakers, trainings and local actions. PowerShift BC will be an incredible gathering of passionate young climate activists to spark the next burst of climate justice actions across Canada.
To kick-start these efforts, we’re excited to announce a nationwide week of action: aFossil Free Frosh! Across Canada, local divestment chapters are sparking conversation and getting new students engaged through creative initiatives. From September 9th – 13th, we’ll set the stage for meaningful climate action the coming months. Tell us what’s going on at your campus!
These are a few (by absolutely no means exhaustive) actions you might want to consider for the upcoming Fossil Free Frosh week. Some can be done with almost no planning, and others require a bit more planning – think about the resources and time your campaign has. Make sure you get independent footage or alert the media about any actions your campaign does so your message can spread to the wider community. And above all, remember to have fun with it!
1. Workshop This one takes a bit more pre-planning, but is great for starting a conversation and getting people personally interested in your campaign. You can choose whatever aspects work best for your campus (An intro to the divestment strategy? Exposing tar sands and recent pipeline development?) or check out this example workshop.
2. Flyering This is a tangible and up-front way of getting new students’ attention, especially while they’re gathering resources from organizations and clubs across the university. Make sure to have a strong opening line (e.g. “ ) and have a sign-up sheet on hand! Check out the sample Fossil Free Canada flier you can use on campus
3. Flash mob This one also takes a good amount of coordination, but is a really great way to put a positive tone on your campaign. Find a central place on campus and agree on a strategic time to create a guerilla dance party or demonstration. Remember to alert photographers and media ahead of time!
4. Op-Ed / Articles Another classic method that will bring your message straight to campus eyes. Think about either crafting your own article that sets the tone for your campaign this year, or asking a campus paper to do a feature on your campaign. Make sure to look through our guide for advice on creating a good messaging arc and redirecting tough questions. http://gofossilfree.ca/media-communications/
5. Re-appropriate Frosh What does frosh look like on your campus? Get a gang of people who “look” like froshies (silly hats, beads, colorful t-shirts) walking around campus chanting fossil free divestment slogans. Extra points for the best rhyme with “Fossil Fuel!”
6. Temporary Public Installations A great image says a thousand words, and a photo of it can be an appealing item to send to campus media. Get your campaign together to hold up a sign or spell out a message that will get people’s attention (think about context – in between classes? on a tall point on campus?). Check out this great example!https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=289441534531322&set=a.289441531197989.1073741827.287579548050854&type=1&theater
7. Photo Campaign This is a really great way to get other people to advertise your campaign for you. Similar to tabling, ask people to pose for a picture with a message, whether it’s directly to the point (“McMaster should divest from fossil fuels!”) or a clever statement (“New year, new investment strategy!”). Consider having a sign-up sheet and/or a flier for more ways to get involved! Check this action from Divest McGill (https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.510454072331241.110620.509087915801190&type=3) or this one from Climate Justice Montreal for examples (http://directementtouche.tumblr.com/).
8. Chalking Take advantage of public spaces on campus to use as you (free!) billboard! Find a place with ideally maximal vision but minimal foot traffic (at least, not directly on top of your message). What kind of content do you want to present? An introduction to the group? (“Divest UVic says no to Fossil Fuels!”) A specific action? (“Principal Sharp, demand climate justice from the Board of Governors today!”) An information campaign? (“Did you know…?”)
9. Film screening There are tons of great movies that put an important visual to the fossil fuel crisis. Ask your student union or PIRG about reserving a room and equipment, and consider using this as an opportunity to co-present with a likeminded group to expand your circle of allies (and bring a larger turnout!). Last year 350.org created a movie call Do the Math, about divestment and fossil fuels, you can organize a free screening through this link:http://act.350.org/signup/math-movie/
10. March of the Dinosaurs The most exciting, but definitely the most tricky to pull off, was suggested in the original Fossil Free toolkit. If your group is feeling particularly vibrant and creative, spend an afternoon doing some arts and crafts, and proceed to make a splash on campus with some prehistoric protesting. The campus that successfully pulls this off will get homemade baked goods sent to them by the CYCC organizers!
Contact us for ideas about what can happen, or what might already be happening, at your campus! Register a Fossil Free Frosh action by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Know someone at a Canadian campus who should be involved in our campaign? Connect us! Send an email email@example.com with their name, campus, and any affiliations they may have.