This blog post is written by Jessie Kinsley, an organizer with Brandeis Climate Justice and a 2019 Divest Ed Fellow participating in our summer program! It was originally published for Brandeis's World of Work Fellowship.
Group Photo of our Divest Ed 2019 Organizing Fellows at our June Retreat in New Hampshire! (Photo Credit: Jordan Mudd)
This summer I am interning with Divest Ed, a program of Better Future Project: a Massachusetts-based nonprofit aimed at addressing the climate crisis and the rapid and responsible transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. Divest Ed specifically focuses on training student organizers in order to resource, vitalize, and broaden the fossil fuel divestment movement. This past year I have been a participant of the 2019 Divest Ed Organizing Fellowship, and will continue to deepen my work on fossil fuel divestment-related projects throughout the summer with other organizing fellows in my internship.
My experience in the 2019 Divest Ed Organizing Fellowship puts me at a particularly interesting position in terms of my summer internship. Unlike most internships, when I started my first day of work I had already met all of my coworkers, and had actually already spent a large amount of time learning, creating, and making decisions together as a team. The summer internship was kicked off with a fellowship retreat, in which myself and other organizing fellows from around the country met for 5 days to get trained and participate in discussions centering our various fossil fuel divestment campaigns. During this time we practiced consensus-based decision making, learned about principled struggle (informed by the works of Adrienne Marie Brown and Charlene Carruthers) and other important topics, and also made life-long friendships along the way. Oh, and we kayaked too!
The June Fellowship Retreat was held at Camp Wilmot in New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Shelby Dennis)
This retreat made it easy to transition into a workplace dedicated to imagining an 8-week summer project relating to fossil fuel divestment. Myself and the other fellows decided to split our efforts into 2 important summer projects: national escalation* and reinvestment**. Each project has a team of interns that are responsible for creating and facilitating a summer project centered around each topic. I chose to participate in the reinvestment team, and will be working to research reinvestment options and creating accessible resources for student organizers who wish to incorporate it within their divestment campaigns. So far it’s only been a week into our project planning, but we are already generating a running list of ideas to learn more about: financial arguments to engage in, local Boston organizations to start learning from, and a ton of resources created from community organizers who have extensive expertise in this area. It’s both overwhelming and thrilling to think of all the information we are going to be engaging with over the next few weeks, and I for one am grateful to have a supportive team by my side to do it with.
The Reinvestment project team hard at work. (Photo Credit: Jessie Kinsley)
When I first dove into activism, I held the idea that progress looks concrete: laws being passed, resolutions being made, cities being re-envisioned and demands being met. I still do hold that vision, but my time with Divest Ed has taught me to look at progress in a new way. Not only does the work we do have concrete implications, but the way we do them continually encourages myself and others to enact the future we are trying to create. The team that I am working with on reinvestment practices horizontal leadership: recognizing the different skills that we all bring to the table and implementing each one to the best of our ability. My “boss” is very much not my superior, and instead a facilitator who is helping support our vision for our project. And my favorite part of our work culture is the genuine love we hold for ourselves and the work that we do. Envisioning a new, regenerative economy is difficult and stressful work, but my coworkers and I continue to approach each other with compassion and honesty, and the vision follows.
I’ve spent the majority of my college career imagining my school’s fossil fuel divestment campaign winning, but I’ve spent very little time imagining what comes after. Through Divest Ed I’m learning that we must not only envision a sustainable planet, but a sustainable culture that allows for people to form non-extractive relationships with each other and the earth. I’m excited to continue fostering that culture and seeing what it can achieve in the next 7 weeks.
Group hug at the end of the June Fellowship Retreat. (Photo Credit: Rachel Schlueter)
* Link to the Facebook Event for the National Divestment Day of Action: https://www.facebook.com/events/2158186504240641/
** For more information on reinvestment: https://gofossilfree.org/divestment/reinvestment/