This step by step guide on how to start organizing is the perfect place to start for those interesting in getting involved with Mother Earth Day to May Day. The guide will be updated regularly—so please check back on our website for more resources. We hope that it is useful, and that you will let us know how we can improve our effort to help organize your community for people, planet and peace over profit!
Step 1. Get started
Sign up using the Earth Day – May Day contact form. After doing so, you will get regular updates on upcoming events and offerings from the Earth Day – May Day network.
Step 2. Get connected
- If you’re not aware of Earth Day – May Day organizing in your community, contact us so that we can connect you with others in your area.
- If you agree to share your information within the Earth Day – May Day network, we can add you to an email list for organizers in your area. We are working on more communications tools to help you connect.
- If Earth Day – May Day organizing is already in progress in your area, we will help you to plug in to your local group.
- If your community hasn’t started actively organizing for Earth Day – May Day, this guide will help you get started.
Step 3. Plan an organizing meeting
- Plan a meeting at a public location and date/time that works for organizers, or use a free scheduling service (like doodle.com) to determine the best time to meet.
- Share meeting details with your community & the rest of the Earth Day – May Day network by listing it on the Calendar.
Step 4. Make an invitation list
- Start by asking everyone in your organizing group to list all their contacts and groups they’re involved with.
- Then, start adding other groups to reach out to. Make an effort to invite a diverse range of groups working for social, economic and environmental justice in your community.
- Existing coalition groups can be a useful resource (for example, the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice).
- Make sure to reach out to environmental, labor, and immigrant rights groups, as they may already be planning events for Earth Day – May Day.
- Look for local chapters of groups that have endorsed Earth Day – May Day (click here to access the list of past endorsers).
- Don’t be shy about using public contact info for your outreach – many groups are glad to hear about coalition-building efforts.
Step 5. Invitations
- Invite your contacts in person or by phone if possible, and ask them for ideas about others to invite.
- Use email to invite people/groups you don’t have a personal connection with.
- You can use our Organizing Meeting Sample Email Invitation as a model for your invitation, including information about what the Convergence is, along with the details of your organizing meeting.
- Request RSVPs in your email and conversations. Keep track of RSVPs and send them a reminder before the meeting.
- Also keep track of people who express interest but can’t make the meeting – follow up later to get them involved.
Step 6. The organizing meeting
- Start with a round of introductions to help people get to know each other.
- Introduce Earth Day – May Day, using language and graphics from the website. Introduce the guidelines for Earth Day – May Day organizing, as well as non-partisan status.
- Ask what’s already being planned for Earth Day and May Day (before the meeting, research this and talk with organizers who are planning events). Check out the Event Map to get an idea of what is currently taking place around the country.
- Present ideas for actions and events, using Earth Day – May Day resources to help guide you.
- Be realistic about your group’s capacity. You may be in a community that doesn’t have a history of grassroots organizing – which makes your organizing efforts even more valuable. Remember (and remind others) that every action, big or small, is a victory that moves us all forward.
- Ask for others’ ideas about possible actions and events. Get a sense of what people are excited about – your events will be most successful if your partners are willing to actively work on them and invite more people.
- Circulate a signup sheet to get contact info for everyone in attendance – this is critical for follow-up.
- If the meeting time worked well, ask if people are comfortable with regular meetings at the same time (and place if possible).
Step 7. Meeting follow-up
- Using the signup sheet from the meeting, add local organizers to your email listserv.
- Set a regular meeting time and place, if you didn’t already at the first meeting.
- Send notes from the meeting to the listserv, with a summary of key decisions and items for follow-up. These may include:
- Events in planning stages
- Other potential events
- Brainstorming other people/groups/events to reach out to
- Writing an outreach letter, signed by your organizing group, to ask others to join your Convergence, endorse/promote events, provide volunteer/financial/logistical support, suggest other events, etc. (see a Sample Outreach/Sign-on Letter)
- Creating materials: posters, flyers/quartersheets, T-shirts
- Media plan
- Pictures, video, other documentation/media
- Logistics for actions (creating signs, banners, etc., rehearsing actions if necessary)
- Social media
Step 8. Next Steps
- Follow up with people who expressed interest earlier, even if they couldn’t make the first meeting – offer to put them on the email list, and invite them to upcoming meetings.
- Continue outreach, and ask others in your organizing group to do outreach to their networks. In addition to inviting people and groups, look for events where you can spread the word about the Convergence.
- A few weeks before Earth Day, put together a schedule of events in your area. Use this schedule of events on your posters, fliers and other materials in order to promote them all together.
- As Earth Day approaches, open discussion on how your group might continue working together after May Day. How can your Convergence continue to be a positive force for change after May Day? Would people in your group be interested in working on Earth Day – May Day again next year?
Thank you for being a part of this movement – it is exciting and empowering to come together with so many people from many different backgrounds who all share the same vision of a better world!