By Alex Kelly
As Australia’s horrific bushfire season of 2019-2020 was underway Alex Kelly shared helpful suggestions for action people could take.
I want real action on climate but what can I DO?
A lot of people have messaged me saying “the fires have really rocked me. I’m angry and I want real action on climate but what can I DO?” Here are some initial ideas to get you started.
Please note this article is not about how to respond to these immediate fires, it’s some more long term ideas. I also haven’t included divestment, eco transport, banking ethically etc but those kind of actions are fairly easy to find on campaign sites.
I think what we need now is twofold:
- strong community adaptation and resilience and
- a powerful movements of movements to challenge the planet wreckers and put an urgent end to fossil fuels and extraction.
Firstly you don’t have to drop what you’re doing; you can start where you are with what you have; use your skills and influence your own networks, friends and workplaces.
If we are realistic about climate change it’s clear we need to transform everything about our economy and energy systems so every industry and much of our infrastructure needs to change; you can influence the areas you know and care about.
In terms of supporting campaigns maybe you are great at research, brilliant with excel spreadsheets, an ace cook, have rope and climbing skills, have first aid training, can play music, are good at writing and can put together media releases or up for direct action: whatever you can do, movements need!
If you haven’t joined an activist group before you might be shy or have some funny ideas about who you might encounter if you get involved. I reckon what you will find is ordinary people just like you who are trying to figure out ways to make things better. You can also find a place for the kind of skills and interests you have; direct action, protest, corporate campaigning, research and policy, art and culture, you name it, we need it!
Secondly this is not just about you, a single person and your choices and actions; this is about US, all of us and what WE can do. Wherever you can connect up with other people in your town, industry, family, workplace, sports club and start organising. Individual consumer thinking won’t get us out of this mess so let’s try and shift to thinking and acting collectively. Networks of networks, movements of movements – system change.
This is about US, all of us and what WE can do. Together we can do so much!
Here are just a few ideas.
- Support First Nations campaigns: by donating or volunteering or partnering and most importantly amplifying and sharing their work and lifting up the voices, solutions and needs of Indigenous communities this is central to climate justice on this continent
- Donate to frontline organisations and grassroots groups: they are often struggling for funding but also often have deepest roots and have biggest impact in their communities
- Research how climate change impacts the most vulnerable: homeless folks, those in poverty with poor housing, people with disabilities and work with those communities to develop support plans
- Get informed: research and read up on climate change, climate justice, social change and transition plans like the Green New Deal. Don’t do this on your own, set up reading groups and watch and listening parties to debrief, discuss and plan
- Plan for local resilience: meet your neighbours and build a community resilience project and disaster preparedness plan with the streets and properties nearby
- Campaign against extraction: join up with an existing campaign in your region or community that is working to keep fossil fuels in the ground especially coal, oil and gas
- Run for government: run for local, state or federal government on an anti fossil fuels and pro community resilience platform – most of us are shy about this idea esp LGBTIQ people, women and young people but we really need more people taking real leadership in our governments
- Join (or start) a community garden and research food security in your region
- Join an anti racism campaign, whether antifa or in support of asylum seekers. Border politics are going to amp up as climate impacts increase
- Put on a resilience festival and engage local authors, poets and musicians to perform and create new stories for your communities
My love and solidarity to you all as we process, grieve, get angry, feel despair and then, ORGANISE!
About the Author
Alex Kelly (she/her) is an artist, filmmaker and organiser based on Dja Dja Wurrung Country. Working across film, impact, communications strategy and troublemaking, Alex purposefully connects the disciplines of art and change making. During 2014-2016 she worked as the Global Impact & Distribution Producer on Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis’ project This Changes Everything, supporting the development of movements of movements around the world. Her speculative futures project – The Things We Did Next – opens space for people to dream and strategise.
For more on this topic from Alex Kelly see Radically Re-Imagining the World as our Climate Changes.
Here are a number of collaborative resources that were shared during the 2019-2020 bushfire crisis. Please note that these resources may be out of date:
- For more suggestions for action and links to groups you can join see the I’m worried about the climate – what can I do? Google Doc.
- If you want to donate or volunteer to address the immediate crisis see the Relief Effort Spreadsheet.
- For tips on effective conversations with friends, family, colleagues and others at this time see the Bushfire Crisis Conversation and Action Guide and How to talk about climate change from School Strike 4 Climate Action and This is Not Normal: Explaining Bushfires and Climate Change from the Climate Council.
If you are new to activism, including climate action, you might find these resources on the Commons helpful:
- Tips for New Activists
- Climate Resistance Handbook
- New to Activism, Organising and Campaigning? Start Here!
- Bushfires_Forest fires
- Climate action
- Climate change
- Collective action
- Communities_Community building / engagement
- Movements_Campaigns - Climate action and justice
- Movements_Campaigns - Cross movement