On Sunday, August 19, Greenpeace's Quit Coal Activist Training Program held a regional training in collaboration with Citizens Against Ruining the Environment (CARE). CARE is a women-led organization that was founded in 1995 to fight a proposed incinerator in Lockport, IL, about an hour outside of Chicago. Since then, CARE has tackled several different environmental issues in the Joliet-Lockport area, including the remediation of a Texaco plant.
Currently, the group is working to shut down several Midwest Generation coal plants and prevent the former Texaco site from becoming a refinery for tar sands oil. CARE is composed of a core group of five women who are expanding their group's membership so that it can bring more positive change to their community. Greenpeace's training program, which is based on the New Organizing Institute's organizing model, has shown significant results in increasing volunteer involvement and engagement in other places.
The day started bright and early at 9:30 am with a team of 3 trainers and 20 attendees, reaching our recruitment goal. There were a lot of new faces in the room as well as some people who had come out to previous CARE events. We began by envisioning what Will County could look like without all the industrial sites, which set a positive tone for the day and kept people solution-oriented.
Then we discussed the concept of leadership and how, through building teams, we could enable more people to take on responsibility and become leaders. With four priority campaign issues, CARE led these small groups in brainstorms of goals, strategies, and tactics. At the end of the day, we had butcher block paper plastered around the room with lots of ideas for how to move forward.
In our closing circle, we asked everyone to share one word that described how they were feeling. We heard words like excited, momentum, energized, hopeful. While CARE will continue to lead change in their community, they will do so with more allies. If you would like to be an ally, you can follow their work through their website or email them to get involved.