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Posted - 01/18/2018
Increasing Impact in the Climate Movement - The Redford Center by Melissa Fondakowski
RedfordCenterlogo.jpgThanks to the critical grant we received from Invoking the Pause in 2017, The Redford Center was able to host a strategic retreat over Memorial Day weekend. In the beautiful, gothic setting of the Berkeley City Club, our staff, consultants, Board members, and industry experts met for two days of games, good food, and hard work.

The Redford Center is based in the Presidio, but our team is spread over a much larger region—needless to say, we don’t always have the opportunity to meet with each other in person. So, while the physical retreat was really just the beginning of our process to amplify our positive impact on climate solutions, it was also an invaluable opportunity for the team to be together, to deepen our relationships, and ultimately, to understand how dedicated, passionate, and focused we all are to achieving our common goal.

That part of the strategy-building process, in any team-related impact work, cannot be understated. And in fact, bringing people together to make connections, come up with new ideas, and bond over shared interests is a foundational component of The Redford Center’s programmatic model. And, thanks to Invoking the Pause, we were able to apply our own model to ourselves, and are now well on our way to leveraging our efforts for maximum impact.

To support us in ensuring effective use of our time, Amanda Silver provided her facilitation expertise to the group. With Amanda’s positive energy, excellent use of games, and astute guidance, the team was able to begin the process of finding the answers to our three big questions: 1) how to best talk about what we do so that we can reach a wider audience, 2) how we can expand (or not!) our programs and execute useful evaluation of our work, and finally, 3) how to get more partners, stakeholders, and everyday people engaged in environmental movements.

While all three big questions are interconnected, the second question really stood out for us, since by the end of this year, The Redford Center will release its next environmental impact documentary film, titled Happening. As with all our original productions, we have been diligently planning an impact campaign to rollout alongside the film’s release, with the goal of accelerating the U.S.’s movement to a low-carbon economy. We want more people to understand their relationship to energy use, what they can do to support the generation of, and choose to use, clean energy themselves, and most importantly, what’s at stake if clean energy is to be our Big Solution toward curbing rising global temperatures.

What we found through our brainstorming exercise was that we had near-consensus among the team that The Redford Center needed to identify a clear organizational focus area—as opposed to our general “environmental” focus—and stick with it for at least the next three years. With Happening completed and the impact campaign set to rollout, it didn’t take much for us to realize that what we all really wanted to see—as an organization and as concerned individuals—was wide-scale adoption of renewable energy. Our decision was to push for renewable energy adoption by focusing on three key targets. First, we wanted to be able to accelerate clean energy uptake in a meaningful way, which to us means massive increases in renewable energy generation and use. Some of the biggest energy users are corporations, so if they make the switch to renewable—from powering their facilities to pushing their suppliers to do the same—huge gains can be made. Next, we realized that, for the amount of work that needs to be done to accelerate the movement, we cannot afford to rely on government, particularly under leadership that is decidedly digging into fossil fuels. Still policy change is essential—but policy change happens in many different way, and is always pushed through by people like you and me. So, our final, and perhaps most important target constituency was the audience of people who may believe that they have no stake in the clean energy movement. People who may dislike being labeled environmentalists. And people who have been pushed to the margins of the movement.

To that end, we’ve begun working with many key stakeholders to get the film into the right hands, direct individuals toward clean energy action, and giving as big a platform as possible to the message: that renewable energy is our greatest opportunity to change both the way we think about our planet, and the way we live on it with each other.

Our next step in following-through on our strategy is to meet with the team in small groups, refine our outcomes and goals, and build an activity timeline with milestones mapped out over the next three years, so that we monitor our trajectory and impact.