By Angela V. Carter, Leah M. Fusco
The case of anti-fracking mobilization in western Newfoundland illustrates how concerned citizens without extensive activism experience built a successful campaign against a proposal that would have redefined the social and environmental geography of their region. This case provides a positive example of how rural communities, increasingly targeted for risky energy proposals, can defy expectations and fight unwanted projects. – Fusco and Carter, 2017
In a 2017 article originally published in Interface: a journal for and about social movements, Leah M. Fusco and Angela V. Carter document the anti-fracking campaign that arose in 2012 in the western region of Newfoundland and Labrador, one of Canada’s oil-dependent provinces. The campaign boosted civic capacity and transformed the social and political landscape of the region bringing fracking to a standstill and building capacity for future activism.
This case provides a positive example of how rural communities, increasingly targeted for risky energy proposals, can defy expectations and fight unwanted projects. The article provides a history of the campaign and, via interviews with mobilization leaders, presents ten practices deemed as particularly effective:
A: Building alliances
Anti-fracking campaign leaders in western Newfoundland focused on building diverse and wide-reaching alliances. This network provided a structure through which resources could be organized, developed, and strategically applied. Organizers used two main alliance-building practices.
- Mobilization practice #1: Build a network from the ground up
- Mobilization practice #2: Unify diverse allies
B: Crafting the message
In the early days of the anti-fracking campaign, both lead organizations researched fracking and built networks with external groups. They then focused on strategically framing what they learned. With the aim of raising widespread awareness and concern that could be communicated to government decision makers, organizers aimed to create messages that would be meaningful in the daily lives of people in the communities while understating more divisive messages.
- Mobilization practice #3: Hone messages that hit home
- Mobilization practice #4: Mute messages that divide
C: Spreading the word
Organizers conveyed anti-fracking messages using a variety of actions to raise public awareness, capture the attention of government decision-makers, and build support for their goal of preventing fracking in western Newfoundland. Some of these approaches were conventional, what we would expect to find in almost any community mobilization. However, others were very locally rooted and inspired, drawing on specific social and cultural ties within the communities. This section discusses how local organizations drew on existing resources and took advantage of political opportunities to build public interest and influence policymakers.
- Mobilization practice #5: Communicate consistently in old and new ways
- Mobilization practice #6: Play electoral politics
- Mobilization practice #7: Keep it personal
- Mobilization practice #8: Lead the conversation and show risks in the flesh
- Mobilization practice #9: Intervene in conventional processes
- Mobilization practice #10: Challenge conventional processes
For specific details regarding how these practices were employed during the campaign download the article.
- Alliances_Allies_Coalitions_Partnerships - Non traditional
- Communication - Messaging
- Movements_Campaigns - Anti mining
- Movements_Campaigns - Anti mining - Canada