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How do Citizens' Climate volunteer chapters work?
The roots of the Citizens' Climate International mission are local volunteer chapters, or local groups. A local chapter is made up entirely of volunteers. They bring together their talents in organized small-group training and coordination for effective citizen-led climate policy engagement.
Every chapter is invited to work in five broad areas of civic engagement, which we call the Five Levers (because they provide leverage for building political will):
Volunteer and Group Development
Community engagement and education
Engaging trusted local leaders
Meeting with public officials
Volunteers work as a team. Under each of these five broad areas of engagement, there are many small actions an individual can do to support the team’s success.
Political will is not created by politicians; it is created by the people politicians serve. This means Citizens' Climate volunteers must:
Be present to demonstrate by their engagement that public officials can work with their constituents;
Coordinate their activities to consistently send this message;
Honor the people they engage with by showing interest in how they work and providing answers that help them to do that work well;
Connect complex science and policy insights to human experience and the everyday economy;
Welcome and train new team members, to keep the team fresh, diverse, and active.
We focus on relationships. Citizens' Climate volunteers don't aim for big-splash one-off engagements; they work to build reliable working relationships, where people in the community, trusted leaders, journalists, and public officials, know the people and the organization, and know they can count on constructive, solutions-oriented engagement.
Team meetings are essential. Volunteer chapters are asked to meet as a group at least once per month.
Holding that meeting at a regularly scheduled time on a repeated day of the month tends to be most effective for achieving repeated participation.
Team meetings should focus on action: learning, coordinating/assigning actions to team members, planning specific team efforts on one or more of the Five Levers.
Monthly actions can be: writing to local media; hosting an event; scheduling a meeting with a public official; learning new policy material together.
Local chapters need team leaders. Every local chapter needs a chapter leader. This responsibility can be shared among 2, or even 3 co-leaders.
Everyone has a role. The most important thing is to have a strong core of consistently participating volunteers. Every volunteer should be welcomed with an offer of potential ways they can help, and everyone should receive support getting trained to be a full and active member of the team.
The citizen volunteer team is global: While the focus of our work is on local training and engagement, toward national climate policy, each of our chapters is part of a bigger global team. Climate policy is hard work; being part of a team—where you have a window into the work people are doing to support positive change and overcome resistance—is a vital form of empowerment.
Volunteer chapters report what they do. Reports of volunteer activity are vital, because they allow CCI to share stories of success, provide help where needed, and make sure everyone can feel the presence of their teammates doing this difficult work elsewhere.
Getting started: When a new member signs up to be a Citizens' Climate volunteer, they will be connected with a local chapter or with other volunteers from their country, if there is no chapter near them. Local chapters are best positioned to bring new volunteers onto the team. Chapter Leaders who need guidance can ask national or regional coordinators, or CCI staff, for information and training materials.