Working towards more inclusive campaign groups

This is a very brief guide for some first steps in thinking about how you can make your campaign group more accessible and welcoming to a wider group of people. This is meant for people who are new to this work.

For more in depth resources and readings please check out:

New Economic Organisers Networks’s Power and Privilege Guide
Young Friends of the Earth Europe’s intersectionality toolkit
Diversity and Anti-Oppression tools from Training for Change

Why is this important?

Climate justice is social justice. The impacts of the climate crisis will hit everyone, but certain people harder than others. There are many complicated reasons for this, but in general, people who are most marginalised in our society, including people of colour, women, LGBTQ+, disabled and working class folks, are most at risk from climate disasters, and extreme weather, and have less access to adequate support.

It is essential that these people are central in our campaigning and planning. It will make our campaigns stronger and our achievements fairer.

As climate and environmental justice campaigners, we want the world to be fairer and safer. To do that we also need to address societal issues like sexism, racism, ableism, classism and homophobia. One place we can start to build a more equal world is in our campaign groups!

Ground rules

A useful tool for making your group and the events you organise safer and more welcoming is to collectively set some ground rules for how people in your spaces should behave.

Start by asking everyone to discuss what they need from the group to be able to participate fully and build it from there.

It might include commitments like “share speaking time”. If the group has agreed that they would like everyone in the group to have the opportunity to give input, it makes it easier for you all to remind each other of this if some people are prone to speaking a lot.

Some groups have a ‘safer spaces’ policy which usually goes into a lot more depth, for instance this is the one used by Young Friends of the Earth Scotland.

Holding events

Holding events is a great way to spread the word about your campaign and get more people involved.

Here are some things to consider when trying to run an event that is inclusive and accessible:

Is the venue physically accessible? Is there step free access, a disabled bathroom, a hearing loop? Put the accessibility information in the Facebook event/advert/poster so people know. If you really can’t find a venue with these things then also communicate that so people don’t show up to an event they can’t physically access.

Who is speaking at the event and which perspectives are missing? Is it all men? All white people? All able-bodied people? Could that impact who feels represented in your group and who feels like they might be welcomed in?

Have a system for feedback and openly invite this from participants. Feedback is a gift that allows you to constantly improve.

Running meetings

For many groups, meetings are an essential part of what they do. They can be a great way to get people involved, but can also exclude people.

Here are a few things you can do to make your meetings more inclusice:

Communicate accessibility information early.

Share the agenda in advance – let people know when breaks will be.

Re-state your ground rules and assign someone as a ‘vibe-watcher’ to pay attention to different needs in the group, who is speaking and who isn’t. etc.

Try to avoid jargon and explain things fully so everyone can follow the conversation.

Online meetings

Online meetings are more accessible for some people, but create extra barriers to others.

Try taking these steps to ensure your members can participate in online meetings:

Reach out to members to check they understand the technology you are using. Could you pair people up with someone who is more comfortable with online meetings who could talk them through using the technology?

If someone is unable to join due to poor internet connection, can someone phone them afterwards to catch them up?

Campaigns and actions

Our campaigns and actions are our public displays of power and essential for building a fairer world, and because of that, we need to make sure they are inclusive and not deepening existing injustices.

It’s important to consider:

Who will be impacted by your campaign? For instance campaigns on single use plastic can negatively impact some disabled people who rely on certain products for their wellbeing. Have they been part of the planning and development?

If you are planning an action, consider and discuss if there are any specific needs of people in your group to feel safer. For instance, you might need to bring chairs to an action that requires standing for long periods of time, or ensuring there is support for members of your group may be more likely to be treated differently by police.

Learning

All of us are taught to behave in certain ways by our upbringing and by society, which can mean that we act in ways that exclude people that are different from us.

This guide will help you to think about and address some of the ways in which your group might exclude some people, but one of the best ways to get better at this is by reading the resources produced by people with marginalised identities, really listening when someone gives you feedback on you or your groups actions and be willing to adapt.

You could go as a group to workshops about different issues, or all read the same articles and discuss them.

None of the issues we work on exist outside of wider inequality. Learning about, standing in solidarity and showing up for different struggles will make all of our campaigns stronger and help to build a fairer world.

Get in touch at activism@foe.scot if you have comments, questions or things you would like us to add or change about this resource!