Monday, November 24, 2014

Power of the People: Calling All Oxfam Action Corps

Are you ready to be a part of people power?

For the first time in the history of the Oxfam Action Corps, all Action Corps cities, organizers, and volunteers are joining together for a big action. We decided to challenge ourselves by showing our collective power for change by raising money for Oxfam America's fund for the Ebola crisis. We have less than a month to raise at least $11,000.

For me personally, this idea of each person giving a little to collectively make a difference really resonates with me. Not only is it the reason why I joined my local Action Corps, it's also why this year I decided to make a donation each month to a different organization or cause. Some months I decided to give to one of my go-to organizations, while other months I added funds to a friend's fundraising activity (a run or bicycle ride) or helped a friend with medical or funeral expenses.

What excites me about the Oxfam Action Corps' challenge is how this power of the people act displays the collective voice of concerned individuals and shows that working together creates change. Often volunteers of the Action Corps see small improvements in their local communities for building awareness to global poverty and hunger. But the reality is that together the Action Corps cities make a substantial impact, including effects on governmental and company policies at national and international levels. And this challenge to raise money for the Ebola response is an opportunity to show we are a united and powerful force.

I will be making my donation for the month of December to Oxfam Action Corps' collective action for the Ebola response. Will you join me by adding your voice and chipping in whatever you can? 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Lobbying with Oxfam Action Corps Des Moines

Guest blogger Aaron Schlumbohm wrote a wonderful piece (below) for the Oxfam Action Corps Des Moines blog about his recent experience lobbying at U.S. Senator Grassley's office in Des Moines.
On September 5, I had the pleasure of accompanying two other Iowa Oxfam Action Corps members, Amy & Stephen, on a lobby visit to United States Senator Chuck Grassley’s office here in Des Moines. Lobbying typically calls to mind a fair amount of negative associations with special interests, money, and influence – but there we were, three grassroots volunteers, about to speak to a legislative assistant for a United States Senator.

Read more on the OAC Des Moines blog here!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Oxfam America at the People's Climate March

Last Sunday's People's Climate March marked a watershed moment for the global climate movement and for the Oxfam Action Corps as well.  Here we capture the sights, sounds, and headlines from the march and the summit.

A huge thank you is due to Jennifer Viechweg-Horsford and Liz Tillman of Oxfam Action Corps NYC for their leadership in mobilizing volunteers and working with staff from Oxfam International, as well as to our intern support led by Kaoru Inoue.

The March

Oxfam's spirited presence at marches in NYC and all around the world are captured in pictures and tweets in this Storify.  More of our people and action in NYC can be seen at this Twitter search.

Oxfam's contingent was among the most animated of the march. Afterward in a thank you note to volunteers, Jennifer wrote that "more than 200 supporters from all over the United States wore Oxfam T-shirts and marched with messages, while hundreds chanted slogans as they demanded action and solutions. This is evidence of your recruitment efforts and time dedicated to the People's Climate March."

Grammy-awarded singer and Oxfam Ambassador Angelique Kidjo gave this powerful interview live at the march to Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!

Jennifer Viechweg-Horsford (2nd from right) with Oxfam staff and interns
The Summit

The day-long government summit at the UN aimed to infuse energy into the lead-up to climate treaty negotiations in Paris in 2015.

In its concluding press statement, Oxfam noted the "partial and piecemeal" government response, adding that "if leaders leave New York with the voices of the thousands who marched here ringing in their ears, it may yet prove a turning point." Oxfam welcomed new commitments to the Green Climate Fund but noted that they amount to a fraction of the $15bn promised in time for the COP20 in Peru this December.

From the Guardian blog, here is a partial summary of outcomes from the day:

  • France joined Germany in pledging $1bn of climate aid over the next few years
  • A number of smaller developed economies pledged almost $300 million to the Green Climate Fund
  • US president Barack Obama pushed China to redraw the "old divisions" between rich and poor nations and take on the responsibility of a "big nation"
  • Chinese vice premier Zhang Gaoli committed to double the country's contribution to a "South-South" fund which will help developing nations adapt to climate change.
  • major declaration on forests was signed by 27 governments and more than 100 companies and organizations. It committed to end global deforestation by 2030

  • Meanwhile, global businesses convened a new progressive coalition called "We Mean Business," whose website is found here, and an Oxfam reaction here.

    Looking ahead to COP21 in Paris 2015

    Oxfam's policy lead on climate and megaphone barker extraordinaire, Tim Gore, blogged about the movement's next steps (and includes a fantastic photo of our Jennifer leading the march with him!)
    Liz Tillman (center) amid her legion of volunteers and staff

    Friday, September 26, 2014

    Oxfam Action Corps Iowa's Games

    Action Corps Iowa has had many successes at tabling events and we found their secret weapon: a handmade Oxfam Jenga set! 
    "If you build it, he will come.”

    Okay, so maybe I stole that line from the iconic 1989 fantasy-drama film Field of Dreams which has absolutely nothing to do with this blog post.  Yet, allow me to modify the quote to its more recognized misquoted form, “If you build it, they will come.”
    I’m talking, of course, about that delightful family-friendly tabletop game called Jenga. True story. How so? Easy! For those unfamiliar with Jenga, players take turns removing one block at a time from a tower constructed of 54 equally sized blocks. Each block removed is then balanced on top of the tower, creating a progressively taller yet less stable structure. Make sense? Good!
    Are you ready to have your mind blown? Jenga is derived from a Swahili word meaning “to build”.
    Therefore…“If you Jenga, they will come.”

     Read more of Oxfam Action Corps Iowa's blog post for a fun yet enlightening way to educate others on Oxfam and its mission!

    If you would like to create your own Oxfam Jenga set, all you need is $20 for wood, a circular saw and the instructions, found here.

    Wednesday, August 20, 2014

    General Mills and Kellogg Win!

     Thanks to consumers like you, the food giants Kellogg and General Mills will make important new commitments to help stop climate change from making people hungry.

    In late July, General Mills committed to setting targets to reduce emissions, participate in real climate advocacy, and become a true climate leader. On August 12, Kellogg followed suit and became the second global food giant in one month to commit to bold new steps to fight climate change and reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions.

     General Mills has pledged to:
    1. “Know and show” by disclosing their emissions as well as their suppliers of sugar cane and palm oil.
    2. Set emissions reductions targets by 2015 and put in place stronger safeguards against deforestation.
    3. Advocate by taking a leadership role in addressing climate change with businesses and governments.

     While Kellogg specifies that, for the first time, the company will set targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions related to agricultural production. It will also join a leading coalition of businesses committed to working with lawmakers to pass meaningful climate and energy legislation.

    Read here for the Kellogg Press Release and here to learn more about General Mills' new company commitments.

    Tuesday, July 22, 2014

    Oxfam Action Corps NYC Summer Retreat

    Nestled in a cozy studio room at the Producers’ Club in Hell’s Kitchen, co-organizers Liz Tillman and Jennifer Viechweg-Horsford educated volunteers old and new on the current campaigns of Oxfam America, the most recent one being our Behind the Brands initiatives. From company score cards to examining recent actions, the Action Corps learned the truth about the nation’s Big Ten companies and how the initiative works towards holding corporations accountable for their supply chain practices. 

    The Action Corps also tried out some tabling and petitioning exercises, as well as shared helpful tips for volunteers when working at events. The speed dating game involved practicing “pitches” to potential supporters, which helped in instilling confidence and further inspired volunteers to familiarize themselves with current campaigns. 

    A presentation by Elizabeth Norman on lobbying proved to be a useful resource with the upcoming August Congressional Recess. Elizabeth enlightened volunteers with the important five steps to lobbying: “Prepare, Connect, Educate, Ask and Follow up.” In addition to these steps, building relationships with local members of Congress was a tip that Elizabeth heavily emphasized.

    The volunteers were also presented with social media tips from Oxfam America intern, Kaoru Inoue. From establishing connections with followers online to further exposing posts to a wider audience, the Action Corps were encouraged to provide consistent and creative posts using mediums such as Facebook, Twitter and Vine in order to reach a diverse group. 

    On Day 2 of the retreat, the group met in the quiet neighborhood of Ridgewood in Queens. Oxfam Action Corps NYC volunteer and National Peer Advisor, Isaac Evans-Frantz discussed the important actions taking place during the August Recess which gave the volunteers a sense of encouragement and determination. 

    Beyond the recess, Jennifer encouraged the Action Corps to start organizing for the Sept. 21st, People’s Climate March which will be held in New York City. A truly important and historic movement, this march is expected to have participants in the hundreds—all calling for world leaders to step up and take action as climate change continues to worsen.

    Congratulations to Action Corps NYC for a successful summer retreat and we wish you the best of luck for your upcoming actions!