Last summer, I decided to stop quietly freaking out about the climate crisis and start acting. I don’t know how best to approach such a complex problem — so I’m trying everything, including attending a lot of climate organizing meetings. Here’s what I’ve learned about what these meetings are like and what the groups are focused on. These are first impressions from one point of view, so take them for what they’re worth.
1 Porcupine Warriors This group has been involved in some amazing and huge unis’to’ten solidarity rallies that shut down different parts of the city. I don’t know if they have any open meetings or formal volunteer uptake though. You should definitely follow them on Facebook, attend their protests and offer support. https://www.facebook.com/porcupinewarriors/
2 Earth Strike I have only attended one Earth Strike meeting — but it was organized and productive and even finished slightly early (which is rare)! They are aiming to organize a General Strike in September and planning a number of smaller events in the lead-up to build awareness. They are a smallish group and could really use help — especially if you are in a union, have connections to unions or have enough pull at your workplace to close shop for a day. They are very focused on the September strike, so don’t attend if you don’t want to work on that specific project (email earthstriketoronto [at] protonmail.com to get involved)
3 XRToronto Extinction Rebellion Toronto is quite new and is still formalizing its meeting process. I’ve only been to two meetings — the first one was kind of chaotic, but the most recent one went smoothly and was really productive and exciting. They are trying to deploy the UK Extinction Rebellion model of spectacular, but peaceful, civil disobedience in Toronto. They have a big event coming up April 20 and need all hands on deck. Weekly Meetings are at OISE on Sundays at 6:00. 252 Bloor St. W. Room 2211
4 Toronto Climate Save This is a group that organizes protests and lobbying around climate change with a particular focus on animal agriculture. If you want to fight climate change and factory farming at the same time, this is the group for you. I have not attended any of their meetings, but I have met their members at other meetings and they are good people. https://www.facebook.com/torontoclimatesave/
5 Climate Fast Climate Fast is more focused on traditional lobbying — they have developed a people’s climate plan as a response to Doug Ford’s non-plan and they run deputation training for getting involved with city government. I haven’t attended any pure Climate Fast meetings, but I have worked with them on some other projects and they are well-informed and compassionate. Meetings are usually at the Friends’ House at 60 Lowther Avenue. Sign up for emails about upcoming meetings on their website: http://www.climatefast.ca/
6 Toronto350 Toronto350 is probably the biggest and oldest non-professional climate group in Toronto. They have tons of experience and knowledge, but their big open meetings can sometimes feel a little slow — but that is the cost of taking everyone’s opinion seriously. They are currently redesigning their meetings and org structure though and hoping to develop sub-committees that can make decisions more quickly. Their focus is on pressuring pipelines and banks and promoting indigenous solidarity, but they are open to new ideas and projects.
Meetings are Tuesdays at 6:30 at the Steelworker’s Hall on Cecil St. (https://www.facebook.com/events/2115357528584659/)
7 MobilizeTO is specifically focused on lobbying City Hall to declare a climate emergency and advance the decarbonization schedule of our TransformTO plan. I have been heavily involved in this group. Most organizing is by email and Facebook and the people are amazing. There are occasional face to face meetings between the core organizers that are usually scheduled by email. Contact form and more detail available here: (http://mobilizeto.ca/contact)
8 Drawdown Toronto If you want to focus more on building change right now and less on lobbying politicians check out Drawdown Toronto which is running information sessions on the Project Drawdown list of climate solutions. I have not attended any meetings but the people running this program are kind and responsive! http://www.unifytoronto.ca/connect.html
9 Green Neighbours Network This is the group for you if you don’t want to leave your hood. With several smaller branches doing different projects within their neighbourhoods — from organizing local energy initiatives and clean-ups to film screenings. Again, I haven’t attended any meetings, but the people I have met at protests are all super nice. (https://greenneighboursnetwork.ca/member-groups/members-map/)
10 Climate Pledge Collective Right now, the group is just my wife and I (Matt and Myrtle) with some help from friends on specific projects, so we don’t have formal meetings or an intake process. That said, we have lots of ideas that we want to implement — so if you are a self-starter contact us and we will throw our skills and social media presence behind your work. We are currently toying with the idea of a Climate Pledge for Restaurants and organizing Climate Troubadours to sing about climate and hand-out pamphlets in public places as well as organizing our Climate Picnic on May 5 (https://www.facebook.com/events/812559672441011/).