We only existed for a few months in 2018, so we rolled a year and a bit into one email. None of these projects were things we achieved on our own — we teamed up with other activists, we got advice from friends, we were blessed with surprise assistance from all corners of the city and beyond! So thanks to all our supporters and collaborators for making our first year a success!
In September 2018, we designed a climate action pledge with the help of our technical consultant Clarence Cheng. It’s open-ended — which makes it a great way to start conversations about climate action. 172 people have done our pledge online and many more have done it on paper. If you haven’t pledged yet — do it as a New Year’s Resolution.
Helping to kickstart Fridays for Future in Toronto
Matt attended Toronto’s first Fridays for Future climate strike meeting with 12-year-old Zoe, who wanted to do ‘something big’ for the planet, her mother and Lyn Adamson of Climate Fast. After that meeting, Matt contacted student eco-groups, built out the initial social media, and applied for permits. One of Myrtle’s piano students volunteered to start the @fridaysforfutureto Instagram (you know who you are!). The first strike had less than a hundred people. Back then, Greta would like our tweets and instagram posts personally. By early 2019, there were so many high school students and undergrads involved in the Toronto movement that we stepped back completely so they could run the show. In less than a year, the movement turned out tens of thousands!
In between scheduled strikes, we did our own tiny Fridays for Future strike at Bay and Bloor. We handed out flyers (even though most people ignored us). It was awkward, but it got fun after a while and we rewarded ourselves with dinner at Cali Love.
LOW CARBON LUXURY SERIES
Many people think that getting rid of fossil fuels will be a huge sacrifice — but in many ways it will actually make our lives better. We wrote our Low-Carbon Luxury series to help people see that another world is possible – and preferable. The series explores how decarbonizing will also help us live a slower, more meaningful life.
Our favourite project of the year was Climate Picnic which introduced people to local climate organizers in a relaxing setting. We ran 3 climate picnics and inspired several more. We are eternally appreciative to the many amazing musicians who played at these events — especially Cassie Norton, Tania Gill and Stefan Hegerat who both played and recruited others. We even had Jim Creeggan play at one of our picnics.
Myrtle first met psychiatrist, Nate Charach, at a Green New Deal Town Hall. At our second Climate Picnic, we got to talking. He was interested in climate anxiety and negative emotions and agreed to write a series of posts on our website on the topic. It’s a reassuring read if you find yourself weighed down with climate feelings. The first installment is here.
We spoke at the General Strike against Doug Ford, drawing attention to his pitiful climate plan and lack of support for Indigenous people in Ontario. For the speech, we were joined by Vanessa Gray from Porcupine Warriors.
TTC CLIMATE ADS!
We launched a crowd-funding campaign to put Climate Crisis Ads in the TTC and raised $10,000 in two weeks. Our ads ran throughout August and people told us they overheard conversations about the crisis as a result. Special thanks to our anonymous, but awesome, volunteer graphic designer!
Climate Emergency Lobbying
We teamed up with MOBILIZETO to lobby City Hall to declare a Climate Emergency. In an early meeting with Mike Layton, we learned that the motion was unlikely to pass because the Mayor was opposed. So we focused our efforts on John Tory, creating postcards with his address and launching an open letter from staff, students and alumni of John Tory’s high school. In September, John Tory introduced a climate emergency motion himself and it passed unanimously.
ALLemailsALL: For Earth Day, we encouraged people to email EVERYONE in their address book with a personal message about climate change.
Amazon Fires Petition: In August, we petitioned then Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland to consider Brazil’s assault on the Amazon and the Indigenous people living there before advancing the Mercosur trade deal. We also passed the petition on to our new Minister, François-Philippe Champagne.
Climate Letter/Call Challenge: We challenged people to post a pic on social media with the hashtag #climateletterchallenge/#climatecallchallenge and send a letter or call for each like or share it got. If you missed it you can still participate.
Local Business for Climate: A way for businesses to show support for youth climate strikers by displaying posters in their window or information on their website.
T(C)DSB School Strike Support: We created a form that let people email the Director asking him to forgive student absences on the day of the school strike — once the emails started pouring in, the school board announced that students could be absent from school for the strike with a letter from parents.
Youtube Channel: We also taught ourselves video editing and set up a youtube channel!
What’s the Plan for 2020?
2020 will be a make or break year for keeping our planet under 2 degrees of warming. In 2019, the climate movement created widespread awareness and support for strong government action. But that support hasn’t translated into policies. We need more people to move from supporting climate action in an abstract way to actively lobbying politicians and corporate leaders. We have several projects brewing — targeted lobbying, a bank switch campaign, a campaign to get climate news out of the enviro silo — but we are going to need a lot of help! Please get in touch [Contact [@] climatepledgecollective.org] about joining our volunteer list or signing up for our slack.