🌏 Earth Day 2020: Mobilizing Our Global Communities During COVID-19
On April 22nd, millions of people will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. But with most countries in varying stages of lockdown as a result of COVID-19, this year’s celebration will look markedly different, with people mobilizing online instead of in the streets.
Here’s how activists and campaigners around the world are collectively reimagining what a social movement like Earth Day could look like in the digital age.
“Whether it be coronavirus or our global climate crisis, we cannot shut down. Instead, we must shift our energies and efforts to new ways to mobilize the world to action.”
That’s what Earth Day Network President Kathleen Rogers said in a statement in mid-March after it became clear that Earth Day 2020 could not proceed as it had every other year in its 50-year history.
Organizers and activists were suddenly faced with a monumental challenge: how to transition Earth Day, which is celebrated with massive in-person gatherings every year, to a completely digital format. What new and creative ways could organizers use to still inspire, uplift, mobilize, and inform the one billion people who participate in Earth Day?
Campaigners quickly came together to answer the call. Thousands of virtual protests, digital strikes, video teach-ins, and online performances have since been planned across the globe. Earth Day Network, for example, will be protesting on social media using #EARTHRISE, as well as posting different digital actions every hour and releasing 12 online education sessions from climate change leaders.
A separate event will see more than 400 organizations, including a number of New/Mode subscribers, partners, and community members, banding together. Earth Day Live, a three-day live stream running from April 22nd to 24th, will see online action at a scale the climate movement has never done before. They’ll be joined by scores of climate change activists and voices including Al Gore, Joaquin Phoenix, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Instead of mobilizing for just one day, Earth Day Live will have three themed days:
- April 22 — STRIKE: The 50th anniversary of Earth Day will be about demonstrating collective power in the face of today’s multiple crises.
- April 23 — DIVEST: Led by the Stop the Money Pipeline Coalition, April 23rd focuses on the role of money in driving the climate crisis.
- April 24 — VOTE: Led by the US Youth Strike Coalition, April 24th will focus on the urgency of political change through a nationwide youth voter registration day.
While our participating subscribers — like Sunrise Movement, 350, Greenpeace, People’s Action, and more — will take part each day, many will be especially active on day two, calling out the financial institutions insuring and investing in fossil fuels.
For example, The Sunrise Project has launched New/Mode actions on behalf of the Insure Our Future campaign. (Here are their email and tweet tools demanding that insurance giant Liberty Mutual stop insuring tar sands.)
But you don’t have to participate in massive collaborative events in order to get involved. Big or small, different organizations and movements can participate in Earth Day festivities. With everyone online and at home this year, there are a number of easy, low-cost, and low-barrier actions and activities you can launch to engage with your supporters.
Here are some examples to inspire you:
- The Earth Day Network has co-created a citizen science initiative called Earth Challenge 2020, which will enable people to upload photos through a smartphone app to alert their local government of plastic pollution in their communities. While Earth Day Network is a large movement, smaller orgs could do something similar by using multi-channel platforms, like New/Mode’s, to invite supporters to submit images, artwork, intel, and more. (See an example of this here.)
- The World Wildlife Fund will run a digital campaign throughout the week of April 20th, inviting people to create nature-themed artwork and share on social media using #ArtforEarth.
- Organizer Michael Kozuch has started hosting various Facebook Live events with local politicians and non-profit organizations in the Boston area. In an effort to provide comfort to people during the pandemic, these live streams have also included performances by local musicians, live tree plantings, and plant-based cooking classes.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the inequities and injustice of our existing systems. Too many people in shocking numbers — especially those belonging to marginalized communities — are experiencing job losses, the inability to pay for necessities like food and rent, and inequitable access to healthcare. Now is the time to mobilize.
Massive online mobilizations like Earth Day have the potential to provide comfort, inspiration, and togetherness during a highly distressing and uncertain time. Physical distancing may be the order of the day, but as we can see, this doesn’t have to mean collective disengagement.
Are you participating in Earth Day 2020? Share your campaigns and plans in the comments below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org ⬇️