About the Fossil Fuel Divestment Convergence 2014

From April 4th to 6th, 300 students from over 75 colleges and universities from across the United States and Canada will gather at San Francisco State University for the 2nd annual student-led Fossil Fuel Divestment Convergence. In February 2013, 150 students gathered at Swarthmore College to discuss and strategize about the role of the campus fossil fuel divestment campaign in moving forward for climate justice. Out of that convergence, students created the Fossil Fuel Divestment Student Network, and numerous regional networks were created or strengthened out of the gathering.

This year’s convergence will be an important step in strengthening the power of students through national and regional networks, while also growing the network’s geographic and institutional reach across public and private schools across the nation. While 9 campuses have committed to full or partial fossil fuel divestment, including the hosts at SFSU, many college administrations have largely been resistant to the ask. In 2013, over a dozen schools received an official “no” from their administrations. Though far from giving up, students stand strong in the face of administrative resistance.  Students have already taken first steps towards escalation by coalition-building and direct action, gaining attention nationwide with sit-ins, petitions, rallies, public art displays, referenda, and growing alumni and faculty support.

At one year old, this is a crucial moment for the divestment campaign; it has the potential to regain the explosive momentum that drove it in 2013 by coordinating student efforts to spark a coordinated wave of bold escalated action. This convergence is designed to be that spark; In order to confront the overwhelming crisis of climate change, we must not only build our organizing skills and leadership, but also build relationships and coalitions with others fighting the same forces; all of which is part of the founding principles of the convergence. Fossil fuel divestment is just one piece of taking on the fossil fuel industry, and will ground our conversations in the role of the divestment campaign in the larger Climate Justice movement.

 Why the Convergence?

Mentorship and Training: Preparing Students for the Long Haul

The convergence provides the infrastructure for peer-to-peer mentorship within the divestment campaign. Students can learn from each other’s stories and skills in building power on campus, working with university administrations, collaborating with local grassroots organizations, and escalating to win on divestment. Not only will this lead to a longer-lasting divestment campaign, but it will also train leaders who will continue to organize after graduating.

Strategy and Escalation:

While we have seen some phenomenal successes in the divestment campaign over the past year, it is also clear that we need to start escalating and putting pressure on our administrations and boards. Escalating strategically is a carefully cultivated skill that can be honed through workshops, mentorship, and sharing stories. The convergence will be a space for students to do just that. Campuses that have escalated will share their successes and their lessons learned, students will learn about creative direct actions that will put pressure on their boards and win on-campus support, and each campus will be connected long-term with other campuses who are looking to escalate.

Reinvestment and the Just Transition:

In order for us to truly confront the climate crisis, we need to not confront the fossil fuel industry, but also create community-owned alternatives to a fossil fuel-based economy. At this year’s convergence, we will be connecting students with community organizers who are not only fighting the fossil fuel industry in their backyards, but also working to transition to a local, sustainable, and just economy that empowers and employs members of their community. Students will have the opportunity to learn by volunteering with these groups, learning about social justice as it relates to the environment, and in some cases, by pushing for community reinvestment in local renewable projects. Not only does this sort of collaboration support essential transition work, but also connects students with work that has longevity and is grounded in long-term community-building.


TIME                  LOCATION                  EVENT


2:00-5:00  Temple Baptist Storytellers Team Training


Temple Baptist

Participant Registration opens

5:45 – 6:45

The Annex


6:45 – 7:45

Dinner (on your own – we will guide you to options!)

8 – 9:30

The Annex

Opening Plenary





8:30 – 10:00


Welcome Session

10:30 – 12:55

Humanities Building

Grounding ourselves and the movement in the principles of Climate Justice and Solidarity: A series of workshops and panels (details in program)

1:10 – 2:00



2:15 – 4:40

Humanities Building

Building our Organizing Strength: A variety of workshops on organizing skills and implementation. (details in program)

4:55 – 6:55


All-convergence training and strategizing with Center for Story Based Strategy

7:00 – 7:50



8 – 9:30


Evening plenary


7 – 7:50



8:15 – 1:00


What’s next for the divestment movement: laying the groundwork for the spring, summer, and the future of the divestment movement

1:00 – 2:00





Closing and goodbyes



Brooke.jpgBrooke Anderson is a Labor Fellow at the Movement Generation Justice & Ecology Project where she is working to build a worker-led, grassroots labor movement for climate justice. Brooke got her start in the environmental justice movement, organizing against medical waste incinerators, but then spent over a decade in the labor movement both as an elected leader and staff organizer. She most recently spent 7 years at the East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy (EBASE), where she waged campaigns for hotel workers and port truck drivers, eventually serving as Deputy Director. In collaboration with 350.org last summer, she organized a Labor Contingent for Climate Justice, with over 30+ unions marching against the Keystone XL pipeline and the Richmond Chevron refinery. She also recently coordinated the release of a letter from 60+ environmental and climate justice organizations to the AFL-CIO urging them to join the struggle for climate justice.

John Avalos

John Avalos represents San Francisco’s District 11. He is a third generation Mexican-American, and one of seven children.  John is among the first generation of his family to attend a four-year university, graduating with honors from UC Santa Barbara. He earned a Master’s Degree in Social Work from SF State and worked as a counselor at the San Francisco Conservation Corps and the Columbia Park Boys and Girls Club.  John was an organizer with Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth and with the Justice for Janitors Campaign of the Service Employees International Union and won family-supporting wages and affordable health care. As a legislative aide to Supervisor Chris Daly, he helped craft the City’s budget, streamlining government and expanding funding for affordable housing, childcare, health and mental services, park restorations, and senior programs.

In 2008, John was elected to the Board of Supervisors.  He has served as the Chair of the Budget and Finance Committee, leading the City’s efforts to close a $1 billion shortfall while preserving jobs and services, protecting essential senior and children’s services, and saving vital health programs. John has a strong and substantive legislative record. He passed the nation’s strongest local hiring legislation, providing thousands of living wage jobs for San Francisco residents.  He has passed protections for tenants in foreclosed properties and need-based rental assistance to low-income families. He also increased the real estate transfer tax on high-end commercial buildings, which has brought in $50 million in new revenue annually.  Most recently, his resolution urging the San Francisco Retirement Board to divest from fossil fuel companies was unanimously approved by the Board of Supervisors. He also serves as Chair of the Climate Protection Committee on the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) where he passed a resolution to reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.

Henia BelaliaHenia Belalia: “A French-Algerian native, a brown woman born between two very distinct worlds, I carry in my flesh the ancestral trauma and wisdom of those that have come before me. Early on, I felt the harsh realities of colonization, systemic oppression and segregation. For years, I turned to theatre as a means to call out and confront the injustices that plague our society. Experimental theatre gave me a vessel to break traditional artistic conventions and to play with different mediums to tell stories. But my art came up short, when I realized that I knew nothing about resistance, building power, or healing communal traumas. So I dove into grassroots organizing, with a short stop along the way within the mainstream environmental movement.

I believe in systemic change, in an analysis that addresses the intersections of systems of oppression, and in a process that elevates and centers historically marginalized voices. I’m inspired by communities that reclaim their narrative, their spaces and their sovereignty. A wise woman once told me that there are two times to organizing, the urgency of the struggle which often compromises the slow time of relationship-building. I’m committed to this slow time, to cross-movement building, to the practice of allysip, and to the process of walking on while asking questions (the Zapatistas’ caminar preguntando).

I’m a theatre director, a climate justice organizer, a land and rights defender, a facilitator, and a day dreamer of collective liberation. I’m an organizer with and the former director of Peaceful Uprising, and also currently with the collective Deep Roots United Front.”

155103_10100386046791210_1399189220_n (1)Linda Capato is the Fracking Campaign Coordinator with 350.org who focuses elevating the connection of climate change and fracking across the US. Most recently, Linda has worked as a steering committee member of Californians Against Fracking, lead coordination of the mass rally Don’t Frack California, and has been working to coordinate direct action campaigns against the Keystone XL Pipeline. Before coming to 350.org full time, Linda was the Outreach Coordinator and National Organizer for the Tar Sands Action, recruiting over 1,200 people to risk arrest in front of the White House to fight Keystone XL.  Having worked within the environmental movement for the last 7 years with Greenpeace and Rainforest Action Network, Linda also has ties to their local community in San Francisco training and mobilizing folks around LGBTQ, occupy, and environmental justice campaigns.

YofNF 2Anirvan Chatterjee and Barnali Ghosh: Anirvan (@anirvan) is a former dot.com CEO, radical walking tour guide, and climate activist from Berkeley, California. Don’t get him started on the climate impacts of dirty aviation. Barnali (@design4walking) works at the intersection of cities and climate. She is a landscape architect, public transit, walking, and biking advocate, and radical walking tour guide.


Carlos DavidsonCarlos Davidson is a professor of Environmental Studies at San Francisco State University.  Davidson has a Ph.D. in ecology from U.C. Davis and a masters degree in economics from U.C. Berkeley. Davidson co-authored the first greenhouse gas inventory for San Francisco State University, helped develop the campus Climate Action Plan, and has been active in campus sustainability and divestment issues. He chaired the Climate Action Plan Task Force for the city of Pacifica.

gopalforwebGopal Dayaneni has worked for social, economic, and environmental justice through organizing & campaigning, teaching, writing, and speaking since the late 1980′s. He has been a campaigner for Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition on human rights and environmental justice in the high-tech industry and the Oil Campaigner for Project Underground, a human rights and environmental rights organizations which supported communities resisting oil and mining exploitation around the world. Gopal has also provided progressive organizations with support in Strategic Communications and Campaign Planning through the Design Action Collective and is an active trainer and organizer with the Ruckus Society and a member of the Progressive Communicators Network. Gopal is also an elementary and early childhood educator, working formerly as a teacher and as the co-director of the Tenderloin Childcare Center, a community based childcare center supporting children and families forced into homelessness.

Tim DeChristopher“In December 2008, Tim DeChristopher engaged in civil disobedience at a fraudulent Bureau of Land Management auction, which was selling off parcels of pristine Utah wilderness to the oil and gas industry without any assessment of the environmental impacts. Initially joining protestors outside the auction, Tim felt he must engage in direct action, and entered the building. Once inside, he was asked if he was there to bid; surprised, Tim made a quick decision to register for the auction, and as Bidder number 70, went inside the auction room. Recognizing the power his paddle wielded, he began driving up the cost of each land parcel, and eventually bid on and won over 22,000 acres ($1.8 million) of land with no intention or ability to pay for them–this shut the auction down. Tim was escorted out, but because the BLM had violated its own rules, the land up for auction ultimately stayed out of the hands of the oil and gas industry. While waiting to go to trial, Tim’s story galvanized the local community, and he founded Peaceful Uprising to bring together those willing to take principled action to defend a livable future. After 9 postponements of his trial, Tim was convicted of two felonies in March 2011, sentenced to two years in prison on July 26th of that year, and taken to prison the same day. He was released from federal custody last April, and is now a student at the Harvard Divinity School, where he continues to inspire people to construct collective, direct, and innovative solutions to the climate crisis, and to the broader oppression that results from our profit-driven paradigm.

Tim’s story was documented in Bidder 70. You can watch the trailer here.”

Christine GyovaiChristine Muehlman Gyovai is the Principal of Dialogue + Design Associates and an Affiliated Associate at the Institute for Environmental Negotiation at the University of Virginia. She coordinates and co-facilitates the Clinch River Valley Initiative and Central Appalachia Food Heritage project with IEN.  She holds certificates in mediation and permaculture design, and she consults and lectures regionally about permaculture with the Blue Ridge Permaculture Network.  She holds a M.U.E.P. in Urban and Environmental Planning from the University of Virginia and a B.S. in Environmental Studies from Burlington College. She lives at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains with her husband and two young children.

Wahleah Johns comes from the Navajo (Dine) Nation and the community of Forest Lake, one of several communities atop Black Mesa. She is a founding member of Black Mesa Water Coalition as well as its longest lasting employee. In her several years at BMWC she has played various roles, all which have led to groundbreaking legislative victories for groundwater protection, green jobs, and environmental justice. In her most recent position as BMWC’s Black Mesa Solar Project Coordinator, Wahleah is working out of the bay area in California to gain organizational expertise and support for transitioning Black Mesa’s reclaimed mining lands to solar farms.

977097_591493977551722_1714496320_o.jpgMarcel Jones is the Chair of the Black Student Union at UC Berkeley and resident of Afro House (part of the Berkeley Student Cooperative), Marcel Jones is a student organizer dedicated to communal resistance and cross-cultural coalition building.  Marcel has experience participating in multiple organizing  spaces including the UC Berkeley divestment campaigns from Israeli occupation and the Prison Industrial Complex.  Current efforts that Marcel is working on include the No2Napolitano campaign, UC Prison Divestment, increasing resources for Black students, chairing a conference addressing the school-to-prison pipeline, and increasing people of color cooperatives. Coming from a power to the people mentality and an intersectional framework, Marcel believes in leading with dreams rooted in a critical analysis of our realities.

Dr. Philip King received his Ph.D. from Cornell in 1987. His specialty is in Applied Microeconomics and Environmental Economies. He is an Associate Professor in Economics at San Francisco State University and was chair from 2002-2005. His main research involves the economics of coastal resources and sea level rise. He has published numerous papers on the economics of seal level rise in California and on the benefits and costs of various SLR policies. Dr King is currently Chair of the SF State Foundation’s Finance and Investment Committee.

Cynthia KaufmanCynthia Kaufman is the Director of the Institute of Community and Civic Engagement at De Anza College where she also teaches Philosophy. She is the author of two books on social change “Getting Past Capitalism: History, Vision, Hope (Lexington Books 2012) and Ideas for Action: Relevant Theory for Radical Change (South End Press 2003). She is a lifelong social change activist, having worked on issues such as tenants’ rights, police abuse, union organizing, international politics, and most recently climate change. She received her PhD and M.A. in Philosophy from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and her B.A. in Development Studies from University of California, Berkeley.

Deirdre Lally“Deirdre Lally is an organizer and organic farmer in rural central Pennsylvania.  After years spent in campaigns against mountaintop-removal coal financiers, she learned that hydraulic fracturing for natural gas had come to her family’s home on the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania, and began organizing.  Since gas drilling’s arrival in PA in the early 2000’s, she has been involved in direct action campaigns to protect state forests from drilling, quick-response community support efforts such as Save Riverdale, and is now involved in a listening project in a heavily fracked county in PA and community outreach and movement base-building work with the Shalefield Organizing Committee.”

Freddy LozanoFreddy Lozano: “Born in Barranquilla, Colombia and a union leader and social activist since 1990, Freddy studied Industrial Maintenance in Colombia’s main technical institute. He has completed his seventh semester in the Simón Bolívar University Law School in Barranquilla. He has been president of the Puerto Bolívar chapter of the National Union of Workers in the Coal Industry (SINTRACARBÓN).  In 2009, he received the first “positive” prize awarded by Public Eye in Davos, Switzerland, for his work supporting the communities affected by the Cerrejón coal complex.  He works for the CERREJON company (owned by BHP Billiton, Anglo American, and Xstrata), which operates the largest open-pit coal mine in Latin America.

Nació en Barranquilla, Colombia y dirigente sindical y social desde 1990, Freddy estudió Mantenimiento Industrial en la principal escuela técnica de Colombia, actualmente cursa séptimo semestre de derecho en la Universidad Simón Bolívar de Barranquilla.  Ha sido presidente por tres ocasiones de la seccional Puerto Bolívar del Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Industria del Carbón (SINTRACARBÓN). El año 2009 se hace merecedor al primer premio “positivo” que entrega el ‘Public Eye en Davos Suiza por su labor a favor de las comunidades  vecinas al complejo Carbonífero “El Cerrejón”.  Es trabajador de la empresa CERREJON, multinacional (bhp billiton, Anglo American, Xstrata) que explota la mina de carbón a cielo abierto más grande de América Latina.”

LyanaLyana A. Monterrey is the Co-Founder of Pittsburg Ethics Council & Pittsburg Defense Council.  Born and raised in San Francisco, I currently live with my husband (George) of 35 years in Pittsburg, California.  I have been in the financial services industry for over 34 years.  Our contribution to the community started with organizing youth baseball some 35 years ago.  Our involvement in community organizing and work to stop a proposed project called WesPac, a massive crude oil storage & transfer facility in Pittsburg, started in August 2013.  We have also been supporting neighboring communities against crude by rail and from becoming a major hub for fossil fuel export.

C:\Users\Saliem Shehadeh\Desktop\Capture.JPGSaliem Shahadeh studies Middle East/South Asia Studies and Political Science at UC Davis and is a member of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP).  In the spring of 2013, SJP brought to the table of its associated student body a resolution calling for corporate accountability in Israel/Palestine.  The resolution calls for the UC Regents to maintain an investment portfolio free from companies complicit in the occupation of the Palestinian territories.

Melvin WillisMelvin Lee Willis, Jr. is a 23-year-old activist/community organizer in Richmond, working with groups Like ACCE (Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment), RPA (Richmond Progressive Alliance), and BMOER (Black Mobilization Organization for Education in Richmond). All these groups cover a large variety of community issues, such as racism, environmental justice, holding banks accountable, and making sure that elected officials (from a local to state level) represent the people and not the top 1%.”

Tracy Zhu is the Associate for Ditching Dirty Diesel Collaborative, a regional coalition that fights to reduce diesel air pollution in low-income communities of color. In the past, she did environmental education, youth development, and green building management at Literacy for Environmental Justice in Bayview Hunters Point, SF. She lives in southeast San Francisco, where she continues to build community power of Asian American immigrant families to engage in environmental justice issues. Tracy first learned how to honor and draw strength from the struggles and successes of communities of color while she was earning her BA in Environmental Studies at Mount Holyoke College. She is an active member of the board of LYRIC and holds the environmental justice seat on the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission’s Citizens’ Advisory Committee.

more coming soon…


Divestment as a Solidarity Tactic

Across various campaigns, divestment is used as a tactic to stand in solidarity with those on the front lines of injustice. It leverages resources that incorporate an institutional advantage into the struggle for justice–an advantage to which those on the front lines don’t always have access. Hear how, through on- and off-campus campaigns, divestment organizers against fossil fuels, the prison-industrial complex, the occupation of Palestine, and South African apartheid have stood in solidarity with those who are directly affected by each issue, and how they’ve developed an intersectional analysis to stand in solidarity with each other to facilitate a move away from broader cultural and economic paradigms of exploitation and exclusion.

Grassroots Organizing against Dirty Energy in the Bay Area

Featuring: Tracy Zhu (Ditching Dirty Diesel Collaborative), Melvin Willis (Richmond CA), Lyanna (Pittsburg Defense Committee), Marilyn (Benicia CA)

Historically the San Francisco Bay Area has had a complex relationship with dirty energy companies — from refineries, to export terminals, to serious diesel emissions from the trucking industry, much of the Bay Area has been defined by these corporations for decades. However, this has been matched by powerful community organizing that has prevented some of the worst facilities from being built, and created important standards for the rest of the country. Join us in this panel to hear from Bay Area community members and their work organizing against dirty energy in the Bay Area.

Climate and Economic Justice Through the Lens of Coal

Featuring: Wahleah Johns (Black Mesa Water Coaltion), Freddy Lozano (Colombian National Union of Workers in the Coal Industry), and Paul Corbit Brown (Keepers of the Mountains)

In this panel, three speakers from extraction communities will be sharing their experiences and understandings of the intersections between climate and economic justice. With a specific focus on the coal industry, panelists will share both their lived experiences and their hopes for future strength and resistance to the injustice in their communities.

Economic Resiliency in the Coalfields and Shalefields

Featuring: Deidre Lally (Shalefield Organizing Committee), Christine Gyovai (CRVI/UVA-IEN), Paul Corbit Brown (Keepers of the Mountains)

A movement that only names what it’s against isn’t going to win– either on the divestment front or on the frontlines of extraction. Just as important as knowing what we’re against is knowing what we’re for. If we’re working to dismantle the fossil fuel economy, what alternatives can we construct in its place?  This panel will feature community organizers from the frontlines of fracking and mountaintop removal who are tackling these very questions.  We will hear from them about their visions for a future that isn’t dependent on the extraction economy, and how they’re working to realize those visions in their communities.

 International Fossil Fuel Divestment Panel

Featuring: Theo LeQuesne (UK), Flick Monk (UK), Olivia Linander (Sweden), Charlie Woods (Australia), and Stephen Thomas (Canada) 

Fossil Free is a now international movement that has reinvigorated the global climate justice movement. In this panel, we will hear from international divestment organizers from 3 continents–about their successes, their struggles, and their experiences in organizing in their home countries and on an international level.

Building an Anti-Fracking Movement in California

This panel will focus on the intersection between environmental justice and the ongoing grassroots organizing taking place to prevent the proliferation of hydraulic fracturing. Featuring local students, community organizers and national grassroots campaigners, the panel will explore the social and economic consequences of fracking in key regions, and how the struggles communities are currently facing relate to the growing youth movement to divest educational and other public institutions from the fossil fuel industry.  Among other things, panel participants will reflect on the areas in which the fossil fuel divestment campaign can work in coalition with communities disproportionately impacted by the natural gas industry and the growing Americans Against Fracking Coalition.



Gopal Dayaneni (Movement Generation)

To avoid the real risks of ecological erosion and to return to right relationship with each other and home, we must invest in The Next Economy Now to ensure that it serves the interest of our communities.  Thankfully, as the dominant economy undermines the very basis of life and it’s own existence, social movements are creating a Just Transition away from this dead-end proposition and towards economies based on the restoration of land, labor and life.

As we oppose and expose the forces that are driving climate change, we must also lead with vision and invest in what we know we need; an economy which is decentralized, democratized, and diversified; one in which resource consumption is reduced and wealth is redistributed.

Join this workshop to learn about the framework for Just Transition developed by the Climate Justice Alliance and the Our Power Campaign, with a particular emphasis aligning key strategies, including divest/invest.


Brooke Anderson (Movement Generation)

Do you want to approach local labor unions to support your divestment campaign but either don’t know where to start or have already hit obstacles? This multi-media, interactive workshop and discussion will address the challenges and best practices for building alliances with local labor unions to advance fossil fuel divestment campaigns, including: understanding labor’s self-interests, structure and local political landscape; identifying which unions to approach and through which elected officers and staff; building a strong relationship based on mutual solidarity; making the ask; and navigating political obstacles. We’ll look at a few case studies of successful labor-climate alliances, dissect specific challenges you’re facing in your campaign, and send you home with useful tools and resources.


Henia Belalia (Peaceful Uprising, Deep Roots United Front)

To tackle the root (read: radical) causes of the climate crisis, we must first acknowledge that environmental degradation exacerbates existing economic, racial and social injustices—an interconnectedness that should define our analysis and actions. To truly win, land and justice defenders must recognize overlapping systems of oppression within this capitalist structure, and take strategic cues from the communities most impacted by colonization, militarism and poverty. That means building movements across issues and beyond divides based on race, class and gender, while elevating the voices that have been historically marginalized: indigenous peoples, communities of color, women, LGBTQ people, and the low-income population. To do so will take a profound decolonization of minds and professional institutions.

This workshop will root its conversations and analysis on intersectionality, practices of solidarity, and centering voices within the climate justice movement that have been historically silenced and marginalized. Come participate, share and co-create this dialogue


Barnali Ghosh and Anirvan Chatterjee

Bay Area activists Barnali Ghosh and Anirvan Chatterjee spent a year traveling around the world aviation-free to interview climate activists in a dozen countries, so they could share the stories back home. Learn about the 200 year history of climate colonialism, get updates on youth movements in Asia and Europe, and the #1 thing global activists hope Americans can do.

What the Climate Movement Can Learn from Queer and Trans* Organizing

Lauren Wood (Peaceful Uprising)

We recognize the climate crisis affects us all and is perpetuated by long- standing colonizing forces that inform many of the ways we move through the world. Because of this crisis, our society is having to ask itself some of the hardest questions in how we treat one another and move towards a more just future in the face of climate chaos. It is no surprise that the most lucid voices in this growing climate justice movement are those of the most impacted and marginalized communities that are pushing the hardest for substantive change. To truly win, we must take leadership from the communities who have already been fighting these same oppressive forces for generations. This workshop will take a critical look at how the very nature of queer bodies in this world gives the LGBTQ community a

How To Create a Thriving Movement: Moving Past “Burnout”, Reconnecting to Purpose, and Inspiring Action for the Long Haul
Joshua Gorman (Generation Waking Up) and Mary Shindler
At this time in history we’re facing some of the toughest opponents – the broken and failed systems of our generation. We have the opportunity to change the story. We need a movement of thriving leaders. This means being who we really are, connecting to our deepest purpose for why we’re doing this work, and continuing to take meaningful action. What if we were to do our work with more ease? We’re in it for the long haul. This means taking care of ourselves, each other, and bringing a sense of joy to our teams, organizations, and the movement.  In this workshop we’ll look at how to move past “burnout”, learn transformational tools to bring more ease and joy to our work as organizers, and explore what truly “thriving” looks like for ourselves and the movement.


Lauren Ressler (Responsible Endowments Coalition) and Amelia Timbers (As You Sow)

What kind of world do we envision for the future? In this workshop we are going to build tools and knowledge for incorporating a demand for reinvestment into a divestment campaign. Reinvestment means investing in our communities and in businesses committed to creating just and equitable solutions in areas like energy, manufacturing, and technology. We are going to be talking about both highly scaleable existing financial mechanisms and community-led investment.


Erin Smith (University of Denver) and YJ Cho (350.org)

If we aren’t recruiting then we’re shrinking. This means outreach should always be a priority and that’s awesome because recruitment can be one of the most fun aspect of running your campaign. We’ll discuss reasons for why students get involved and think through some creative ways we can share our story, build power and be the most badass group on campus. Ready, set, grow!


Jess Grady-Benson (Pitzer College) and Jay Carmona (350.org)

Come learn how to make the most of meetings with decision-makers by collecting information, demonstrating power and winning victories. We’ll brainstorm how to refute common arguments from decision-makers to stay afloat in negotiation. We’ll also practice prepping for meetings and strategizing within larger campaign goals.  Join us to collectively share knowledge about sticky situations in negotiation, and what works and what doesn’t.


Hannah Jones (REC, Maypop Collective), Jonny Behrens (University of Chicago)

In order for our campaigns to have longevity and for our movement to grow, we have to build strong organizing teams. This means creating groups whose members are committed to deepening each others’ skills, supporting each other through hard times, training new leaders, and seeing campaigns through to a win. This interactive workshop will help you learn how to build an organizing team with lasting power, that can be resilient through the inevitable pitfalls and challenges of running a divestment campaign, and that can continue to support each other in the movement even after graduation.


Alysse Heartwell (350.org)

Using online platforms to tell your campaign’s story, get the word out, and grow your impact. We’ll talk about how to think about social media, the basic mechanics of Facebook and Twitter, tactics and best practices for each platform, how to make a good meme, why not to over-think your hashtags, and more. There will be plenty of time for questions and discussion, so be ready to workshop your campaign’s challenges & share your successes!


Jenny Marineau (350.org) and Alli Welton (Harvard University)

Great organizing starts with great strategizing. In our commitment to rise to the scale of the climate crisis, occasionally we need to pause to make sure our work is moving us closer to our goals, and perhaps to determine whether our goals are true to what needs to be done. Strategy retreats are one way to take these questions head-on. This workshop will give you tools for participatory decision-making to break up and organize long meetings, and encouragement to deeply consider your vision before digging into strategy.


Todd Zimmer (Rainforest Action Network)

Is your campus campaign hitting a wall? It might be time to escalate! As campaigners, we must continually increase the pressure until our demands are met, but knowing when and how to escalate can be difficult and scary.

 Come for an interactive discussion of when, how, and why to escalate campaigns on campus. We’ll talk about the potential risks and benefits of turning up the heat on campus, examine case studies, and idea-storm tactics and strategies for escalation on campus.


Emily Williams (California Student Sustainability Coalition),

Alumni of your university can be your greatest allies. They are the ones who donate to the endowment, so they are the ones who hold the financial keys. They also have experience with the university and sometimes may know your administrators. This workshop, featuring students and alumni from both the University of California and Swarthmore College, will focus on how to identify ally alumni organizers, how to work with them, and what strategies to employ to reach your goals of divestment.

more coming soon….


Christine Cordero believes that people power can change the world. That’s why she’s dedicated herself to strong strategies – in our organizing, our campaigns, and our stories. Her mission is to support the continual cycle of community training-learning-action, toward a just and loving world.  Christine brings over 15 years of experience in facilitation, training, and public speaking in several social justice sectors including youth organizing, labor, and US/International environmental health and justice. She is a graduate of Stanford University where she studied linguistics, with a focus in language and power.

Joshua Gorman is a writer, speaker, trainer, organizer, and the Coordinator of Generation Waking Up. He studied “Global Youth and Social Change” at George Mason University, serves on the Board of Directors for the Global Youth Action Network / TIG-USA, and supports youth-led action internationally. He is a lifelong student of human development and transformational education with a focus on providing young people the experiences, knowledge, and skills they need to thrive in the twenty-first century.

Jess Grady-Benson is a senior environmental analysis major and music minor at Pitzer College.  She kicked off the Claremont Colleges Divestment Campaign in the fall of 2012 with two other 5C students and has since dedicated her time as strategy coordinator for the campaign.  This year, she was elected to represent the student body in the Trustee’s Climate Change Working Group at Pitzer, which has pushed the campaign towards victory by proposing a holistic climate action plan to the full Board of Trustees.  They are now awaiting a decision on divestment by the end of the semester.  Last summer, Jess traveled to Istanbul, Turkey as a member of the U.S. team at Global Power Shift and helped ignite the UK Fossil Free movement at the People & Planet Summer Gathering.  Her research on the fossil fuel divestment movement over the past year will culminate in a senior thesis that seeks to illuminate the possibilities and limitations of divestment as a tactic for climate justice.

Hannah Jones learned a passion for justice from her parents, a high school history teacher and a labor advocate, and a love for the non-human world growing up in the Pacific Northwest. Her upbringing in an a-typical Mormon household as a queer white woman was quite formative, though she is still figuring all the implications of that out. She was able to really dig into organizing with Swarthmore Mountain Justice’s fossil fuel divestment campaign. Since graduating from Swarthmore in 2012, she has continued to work with the national divestment movement to connect with frontline organizations fighting extreme extraction on the ground. She has recently started an organizing collective in Philadelphia with 5 friends called the Maypop Collective for Climate and Economic Justice, and works part-time for the Responsible Endowments Coalition.

Lauren Ressler currently supports the national student responsible investment movement as National Organizer for the Responsible Endowments Coalition. Originally from Seattle, Washington, Lauren worked with the Cascade Climate Network to oppose the development of coal export facilities along the Pacific Northwest coast. In addition to organizing around coal exports, Lauren has worked on ending the student loan debt crisis and making higher education affordable for all. She currently organizes with more than 20 campuses across the U.S. campaigning for prison divestment, fossil fuel divestment, and reinvestment.

Mary Shindler is a trainer with Generation Waking Up and coach for social movement leaders.  A passion for possibility, she loves supporting individuals and teams to see who they really are and take powerful action. Her curiosity for innovation, collaboration, and whole-systems change is fueled by the first time she saw the injustice of mountain-top removal coal mining in Appalachia (near her hometown) and has led her to work with organizations such as the Sierra Student Coalition, Energy Action Coalition, Brower Youth Awards, and more. She most recently co-founded Coaching for Social Change. www.maryshindler.com

Amelia Timbers is the Energy Program Manager at As You Sow where she employs shareholder advocacy and coalition building to promote sustainability policies at utilities, particularly in the areas of climate change, coal risk, and sustainable investment.

Amelia specializes in interdisciplinary projects that merge business and policy issues. Her background blends finance experience from the Massachusetts State Treasury and Federal Reserve Bank with energy expertise gained through positions focusing on renewable energy policy in both the public and private sectors.

Amelia earned a JD and MBA at Northeastern University, a Masters in Environmental Law and Policy at Vermont Law School (to be conferred in October 2013), and undergraduate degrees in Environmental Studies and Legal Studies at the University of California Santa Cruz.

Todd Zimmer is a campaigner and organizer at Rainforest Action Network (RAN). Since 2003, he has worked to grow grassroots power to fight against militarism and the systematic exploitation of communities by the profit system. He has organized various campaigns across the country. As a member of RAN’s Energy and Finance team, he works to pushback against the Wall Street banks that fund climate chaos and fossil fuel extraction, and helped to develop a massive civil disobedience project, the Keystone XL Pledge of Resistance.”

more coming soon….

Network Structure

The Divestment Student Network is both a place to build connections and share knowledge among campaigns, and a structure to facilitate work on shared projects that will increase the effectiveness of the student divestment movement and further our contribution to the climate justice movement as a whole. With those aims in mind, the Network is organized into three main parts: the DSN Assembly, the Vision Council, and Working Groups.


(Infograph designed by Peter Morrow)

1. The DSN Assembly:

Our goal is to create a wide and representative Network that includes voices from as many divestment campaigns as possible. To that end, we are hosting bi-weekly Assembly Calls where representatives of campus campaigns can call in to participate in collective discussion and strategizing.  Assembly calls include space for:

Sharing: campaign updates, tactic-sharing, and co-mentoring through question and answer sessions

Collective Learning: facilitated discussions, storytelling, panels, guest speakers about strategy, theory of change, campaign strategy, etc.

Participatory Decision-making: as members of the Divestment Student Network, members of the Assembly will vote on proposals brought to the Network, including proposed coordinated actions and projects of the full Network. Each campus has one vote in the Assembly.


Anyone involved in a divestment campaign is welcome on Assembly Calls! Representatives from campus campaigns and members of DSN Working Groups have a vote in the Assembly; staff organizers and divestment alumni are welcome to join in discussion as non-voting members.

Assembly Calls happen every 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month, from 9:00-10:30 EST

Call-in Number: 605-562-3000

Access Code: 548662#

2. The Vision Council:

The Vision Council is the coordinating body of the Divestment Student Network. The Vision Council is tasked with discussing and formulating long-term strategic vision for the Network, including proposing coordinated actions and projects; identifying decision that must be made by the DSN Assembly; being available for quick responses to actions and events, and make action proposals to the Network; Coordinating and supporting work done in Working Groups; Coodinating Network-wide communications; and facilitating Assembly Calls.


Ideally the Vision Council will consist of 5-10 people from a diversity of regions, types of schools (public and private), and stages of campaigns (new and longstanding), including students and recent alumni. Members of the Vision Council will commit to being on the Council for a certain amount of time and are responsible for finding a replacement if/when they have to step back. As a stepping stone to achieve this ideal Council, the first Vision Council will be open to anyone in the Network interested in committing to the above tasks.

3. Working Groups

Working groups are made up of students, recent alums, and can include national organization staff. Working Groups carry out projects of the Network. Working Groups are also included in the Assembly, and each working group has one vote in collective Network decisions. For a list of current working groups and projects, check the Working Groups page.

Alumni Divestment Network

Who We Are:

As our student organizers graduate, college administrators think we’ll lose power. With the Alumni Divestment Network, we’re proving them wrong. The ADN is focused on uniting and supporting movement alums (graduates and college seniors in the divestment movement) to continue organizing post-graduation.  Rather than diminishing in power as student organizers graduate, our movement will grow exponentially stronger as student leaders become movement organizers for the long-haul.

What We Do:

1) Building Political Community:

  • Provide support and resources for alums organizing post-graduation
  • Further political education through a reading group
  • Mentorship for college seniors in their transition into “real world” organizing
  • Build deep relationships among divestment movement alums to continue expanding the power and breadth of the divestment network

2) Leverage Alumni Power for Student Divestment:

  • Assess the needs of student campaigns and determining strategic ways to leverage young alumni organizing capacity to support the student movement
  • Goal of building self-sufficient alumni organizing team to leverage power for the student movement

3) Organize Beyond Divestment:

  • We have a long-term vision of lending organizing energy to other climate justice campaign, as well as bridging the gaps between divestment, reinvestment and other climate justice work.

How To Get Involved:

We invite all movement alumni and college seniors who have been involved in student divestment to join the alumni divestment network.  Contact alumnidivestnetwork@gmail.com to get involved.  Current possibilities for engagement include the political education reading group and the student divestment support team. Look out for upcoming opportunities and feel free to contact us with any questions!

Our Principles

What we believe
1) Climate change is a real and serious threat to current and future generations. Impacts are already being felt in the U.S. and worldwide, and those who have contributed the least to this change are often the most affected by it.

2) The path to ecological sustainability requires a moral and material transformation in our relationships to land, labor and one another. Transitioning away from fossil fuels means transitioning towards justice.

3) The business model of the fossil fuel industry is inherently flawed. It is a pillar holding up a broken economy that extracts life rather than supporting it.

4) Serving the interests of the 1% is not in the mission of our universities, yet they are increasingly coming under corporate control and refusing to act in the interest of students.

Why we unite
5) We have a common stake in this fight. As young people, we will inherit the consequences of a poorly managed environment and economy.

6) Through deep personal relationships, we can challenge and support each other to grow personally and as leaders.

7) Unity increases our local, regional and global impact. Positive social change comes from people standing together, speaking up and taking action.

8) A united national organization provides support for us to continue our social change work beyond divestment. Our engagement will not end with graduation; we are in it for the long haul.

How we make change
9) We build relationships with fellow students, provide opportunities for leadership development, and collectively increase our power and commitment to social change.

10) We take nonviolent direct action to identify the fossil fuel industry as a bad actor and pressure our universities to divest.

11) We support student struggles including those targeting student debt, racial injustice and sexual assault. All of our struggles are bound together and often have the same root cause.

12) We are committed to building alliances with frontline communities, those most impacted by fossil fuel extraction and climate change, as they are the experts in resisting fossil fuels and building a better world.  Strong alliances help us win on divestment and build a broader and more powerful climate justice movement.

Divestment Convergence 2014


UPDATED: Conference Programming. Check it out!

We are deep in the planning process for this year’s Fossil Fuel Divestment Convergence! 300 students from across the US and Canada will be converging in San Francisco the weekend of April 4-6. Workshops, speakers, and strategy sessions will focus on building up the student divestment movement, strengthening campus campaigns, and supporting a thriving student movement for climate justice!


Fall 2014 Trainings

The DSN Fall trainings will bring 300+ divestment activists to 7 cities across the country to be trained in grassroots power-building, strategic escalation, solidarity organizing, and more. Students will spend time strategizing on what it would look like to develop regional networks that support campus campaigns and provide opportunities for regional engagement and collective action. These are high-quality trainings that will take your campaign to the next level. Don’t miss it!

Who Should Come:
1-3 leaders per campus – We’re trying to engage as many campuses as possible in this project, so we’re limiting the number of leaders from each campus. Post-training, leaders will have regional support in bringing the training experience back to their campuses.
Students who are interested in engaging regionally and nationally – We’re looking for students who have some capacity to lend to building regional relationships in addition to campus work. This could be as little as a biweekly check-in with a regional coordinator, or could be as much as coordinating regionally and mentoring students on other campuses.
Priority to students of color – Our movement needs to get serious about developing leaders of color and be conscious of the ways race, class, and gender dynamics impact our organizing.

Please fill out this interest form if you’d like to come to a fall training! We will review your submission and be in touch shortly.

We have limited travel scholarships available–click here to apply. Please only apply for a travel scholarship once you have filled out the interest form.

Why I’m going to Ferguson

by Sam Neubauer
Climate Justice Coalition
Carleton College

I am conflicted. Not about whether or not I should go to Ferguson, I can feel that it is the place where I should be next weekend. I am conflicted about why I am going. In organizing we are often asked to critically examine what our personal interest is in a struggle. There is a challenging quote from an Aboriginal activist group often attributed to Lilla Watson, “If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine then let us work together.” My liberation is bound up with Ferguson, even though I am a white upper-class male.

When I was in high school and middle school, I faced a deep disconnect with myself. As a kid who was always a little off, I was pushed into a social role in school that wasn’t true to the person I really was. I identify as asexual, which for me means that I don’t experience sexual pleasure, and I don’t really fit with a traditional notion of masculinity. But I didn’t recognize this at the time and was pushed into performing a social role I didn’t feel. Even more, I didn’t even know that I was disconnected. Over time this took its toll, and I became detached from those around me, the earth, and my emotions. For six years I don’t remember feeling any emotions, except the knowledge that I was a little broken. I don’t think that anyone fits into the “ideal person” that our society projects, and even for someone who was very privileged I faced that real pain. The toll is in some ways not even comparable to the oppression others have faced, yet I know through my experience that whiteness and patriarchy take the humanity of white men too.

So when it comes to fighting white supremacy and broadly all systems of oppression, the stake is personal too. Going to to Ferguson is a powerful statement of solidarity and I believe a critical time in the building of a racial justice movement. The shooting of Mike Brown and the ongoing protests in response are the most visible edge of a serious racial problem, and we have the opportunity to help push this edge to set a new paradigm around racism and police brutality now. Coming together in times like these strengthens connections, and I know will challenge me to see how I can be a better anti-racist organizer. So I see myself and our movements all having an opportunity to grow and become even stronger, in this case centered around fighting police brutality and white supremacy. But the logics and systems used to support one form of oppression are used to support all others; by tackling white supremacy I am fighting patriarchy too.

I could stop here with my personal stake in going to Ferguson, but as a climate justice organizer, I also felt it was important to write about the climate movement’s place in Ferguson. After all that is how I became engaged (check out the climate contingent to Ferguson here). For me, climate justice recognizes the interlocking nature of systems of oppression, and how we have to fighting them all is not only right, but also the most strategic way to take down “our issue”. The fossil fuel industry depends on the logic of domination from unchecked capitalism, colonialism, white supremacy and other oppressive systems in order to make their profit. Much of our coal and oil extraction occurs in Indigenous lands across the United States and the world. Tar sands extraction in Alberta relies heavily on the marginalization of the First Nations in order to be able to extract from their land. Both the refining and burning of fossil fuels are disproportionately placed in low-income communities of color, demonstrating the industry’s reliance on classism and racism. Without these systems of domination they could not spew their poison into communities.

But they aren’t just using these systems either, since the industry reinforces them too. Every year the fossil fuel industry spends hundreds of millions of dollars lobbying our congress to continue their extraction and poisoning of black and brown communities. This is used to help them profit off of the destruction of our climate. Police brutality and the prison-industrial complex help to control marginalized populations, and keep them from reclaiming their power. So when I look at the struggle in Ferguson I see something that directly connects to my work as a climate justice organizer. A more detailed article on these intersections can be found here.

Yet writing about this doesn’t feel right to me. My heart is telling me this is not the most true reason for me to be organizing my school to go to Ferguson. The intersections of our work are real, and by going to Ferguson I am indeed fighting for my liberation as well. But is self-interest really the most powerful piece of motivation that I can have? Why should I need to see the struggle in Ferguson as important only when I can fit it into a logic of my own self-interest? I could make an argument here but I feel the best person to do it is bell hooks, from the essay Love as the Practice of Freedom:

Without an ethic of love shaping the direction of our political vision and our radical aspirations, we are often seduced, in one way or the other, into continued allegiance to systems of domination-imperialism, sexism, racism, classism. It has always puzzled me that women and men who spend a lifetime working to resist and oppose one form of domination can be systematically supporting another. I have been puzzled by powerful visionary black male leaders who can speak and act passionately in resistance to racial domination and accept and embrace sexist domination of women, by feminist white women who work daily to eradicate sexism but who have major blind spots when it comes to acknowledging and resisting racism and white supremacist domination of the planet. Critically examining these blind spots, I condude that many of us are motivated to move against domination solely when we feel our self-interest directly threatened. Often, then, the longing is not for a collective transformation of society, an end to politics of dominations, but rather simply for an end to what we feel is hurting us. This is why we desperately need an ethic of love to intervene in our self-centered longing for change. Fundamentally, if we are only committed to an improvement in that politic of domination that we feel leads directly to our individual exploitation or oppression, we not only remain attached to the status quo but act in complicity with it, nurturing and maintaining those very systems of domination. Until we are all able to accept the interlocking, interdependent nature of systems of domination and recognize specific ways each system is maintained, we will continue to act in ways that undermine our individual and collective quests for freedom and liberation.

So I suppose the reason I feel conflicted about relating Ferguson to my self-interest is because I believe in the power of a “love ethic”. I have strived in my life to reconnect with myself, others and the earth, but that is not as easy as I first thought. In order to connect to others we must choose to love, but opening myself to loving others who are suffering mean that I have in some ways invited their suffering into my life too. So it is painful for me to watch news on Ferguson, but that pain doesn’t stop this from being an incredible time for me to express my love, by taking effective action. I can feel the draw to Ferguson now from my heart.

So yes, I am a white upper-class male who hasn’t been directly affected by systematic police violence. But I love those who have been or who will be in the future. Isn’t a love for all of humanity the most powerful reason we can have to engage in the struggle? I am going back to bell hooks, we need to choose love in our lives. When I say that I feel I need to go to Ferguson, I am saying that today I am choosing to love. It will be powerful, I will stand in solidarity, and together we will take part in the building of a more beautiful movement. I hope that wherever you are during the weekend of resistance, you too will join me in choosing to love.

Orange Square Publication (Power Shift 2013)

Divest Fossil Fuels National Student Spokescouncil forms 9/17/13

On September 17, students and alumni of fossil fuel divestment campaigns from across the U.S. launched the Divest Fossil Fuels National Student Network by forming the National Student Spokescouncil.

The National Student Spokescouncil is a space for student divestment campaigners to connect, build alignment, and strengthen our movement. A strong student divestment network can more successfully collaborate with off-campus divestment and the larger climate justice movement, and can work to strategize and coordinate collective action independent of and alongside our ally NGOs.

The launch followed months of discussion, outreach to student leaders, and a proposal sharing process. Our work began at the Power Up! Divest Fossil Fuels Convergence at Swarthmore College, and continued through national and regional calls and convergences including the Divestment National Town Hall Call (April) and G.R.O.W.Meet-ups (July-August). In August, we began planning for the launch of the Network, which we will bring to a huge national student audience at Power Shift 2013

As part of the planning process, we distilled and made decisions on national network proposals – ideas for projects, tasks, and actions submitted by divestment organizers from across the U.S. Although we outreached to students prior to September 17, we recognize that those involved with planning still represent a small subset of the national fossil fuel divestment movement. In light of this, the National Student Spokescouncil was launched as a transitional structure for the national student network; the Spokescouncil is an open and flexible model subject to change with increased participation from the student divestment movement and allied staff organizers.

The National Student Network is designed as a place for students to dream big about the changes we can make as youth organizers when working together in concert. How long would fracking last if students from every university in the country blocked drilling operations? How many community energy projects could emerge if a core of universities reinvested fossil fuel money into the local community-owned energy projects? How long could administrations hold out if every student divester from a region flooded each school’s campus and took action? The possibilities are endless, and it’s up to us to make them a reality.

National Working Groups

The National Student Spokescouncil is the hub for student “working groups,” affinity groups organized around particular projects and tasks. As working groups grow, they will elect a number of spokespersons to participate in “spokescouncil calls” to coordinate and align with other working groups. The current working groups are:

  • Solidarity/Frontline Connections Facilitate outreach and relationship-building between student organizers and those on the frontlines of the fossil fuel industry and climate change. Work to develop mutual partnerships between divestment campaigns and other struggles for energy and climate justice.

  • Training/Mentorship Encourage and facilitate mentorship and organizing skills-sharing between divestment campaigns. Create/share political education and alignment work around climate justice and theories of change.

  • Events Propose and plan for national/regional gatherings, convergences, action camps, etc

  • National Publication Edit and distribute web/print publication created by and for the student divestment movement, including analyses, campaign reportbacks, interviews, announcements, etc.

  • National People of Color Caucus Provide a place for divestment organizers who identify as people of color to meet, share experiences/analysis, and engage with the broader national divestment network

  • Strategy Distill national strategy proposals that were generated over the summer; work with other working groups and allies in the climate justice movement to propose collective strategies for divestment wins and climate justice.

  • Power Shift Planning Plan and coordinate the national student divestment network spaces at Power Shift 2013 including outreach, facilitation, logistics, etc.

  • Facilitation Organize and convene spokescouncil calls, facilitate communication and alignment between working groups

Working groups are preparing for Power Shift 2013, where they will have an opportunity to share their projects, get feedback from divestment organizers, and workshop national strategy ideas.

Each working group is open to new members and collaborators. In fact, an important next step in forming a strong national network is to involve more student divestment organizers in working groups and the spokescouncil. Check out studentsdivest.org/nationalnetwork to get involved.

We are aware that fossil fuel divestment extends beyond colleges and universities and that divestment is one tactic among many in the climate justice movement – however, due to the shared experiences of the campus context and existing affinity of campus campaigns we see the formation of a student network as a strategic building block for broader coordination. Alumni of divestment campaigns and NGO staff organizers are welcome to join working groups as equal collaborators, but not as representatives of other organizations.