The Power of Two, Plus You! OpenLetter2013

The Takeaway: Two friends from Boston, increasingly alarmed by the dearth of meaningful action on climate change, decided to take matters into their own hands. The pair are crowdfunding a full-page ad in The Wall Street Journal calling out the world’s most influential people for their non-action on climate change. The ad is an open letter, the main theme of which is the slow-moving tragedy of one generation handing the next an increasingly damaged planet.

Editor’s Note: Sometimes ya gotta do what ya gotta do. I often get requests for this or that, and usually turn them down. But this one is irresistible, and so good, so good.

The other day my friend, tech guru, and MurnPost technical strategy adviser Joshua Gay had an idea. Josh suggested to his friend Deb Nicholson that I might be interested in helping her promote a climate change awareness/justice campaign through indiegogo, an independent worldwide funding platform.  The effort, undertaken by Jordyn Bonds and Mike Gintz, began as an Open Letter that Jordyn intended to post to her blog, Skybondsor.

Jordyn wrote it “during a particularly despairing moment” but after showing it to her friend Mike, decided to place it in a major newspaper as a full-page ad, because that was the best way of making it stand out. Mike also suggested tapping crowd-funding resources, so that like-minded people might have a chance to get involved, too.

As Mike wrote me a little while ago, they’re both “superpals. Jordyn lives with her husband in Brighton and I and my girlfriend live in Somerville. Jordyn and I both lived in the area for over a decade, and met via playing music in the local rock scene. She’s originally from Arkansas; I’m originally from New Hampshire. We both work in the web industry – she’s freelance and I work at an agency in Davis Square, Somerville.”

I think they’re adorable because they represent the power of two people who burn to make a difference. They don’t have an organization behind them, or big funders, or a flashy event. They’re simply trying to send a message, and spending a heckuva lot of energy devoted to doing so.

I hope you consider helping their campaign to make powerful people understand, as Willy Loman said, that “attention must be paid”. Theirs is a compelling argument, and I figured, What better way than to show the multiplier effect of the Power of Two than to get You involved, as well?

Please consider making a contribution, and spreading the word to your friends and colleagues.

Climate countsand so do the efforts of each and every one of us, to do what we can, when we can, how best we can. If you go to Jordyn and Mike’s website, you also can suggest powerful people you think need to see this letter, too.

Let’s make some noise, people!! Jordyn and Mike have a little over 3 weeks to meet their funding goal, and they’re off to a good start: they’ve already raised more than $26,000 toward their $161,000 goal. You can read more about Jordyn and Mike’s ambitious plan at Watch their video here:

Here’s a piece of what they wrote, followed by some Qs and As:

This letter is addressed to you because you are influential, you have children, and you are not taking sufficient action on climate change.

Climate change has presented all of us with an enormous moral challenge, but the level of our personal responsibility is commensurate with the sphere of our influence. You have the resources to make a huge impact, and nothing less than a huge impact will be able to change the course we’re on. The rest of us can only hope to use our meager influence to influence you.

This letter is not going to make the case for the reality of climate change. Whatever you might say in public, you clearly accept its reality; your governments, organizations, and companies are already strategizing around how to cope with it. The purpose of this letter is to express moral outrage…

Who are you?

We’re two regular people who care about climate change. Jordyn is a freelance user experience consultant for web applications; Mike is a user experience analyst at a web development agency.

What prompted you to write the letter?

We both try to live environmentally conscious lives – we ride our bikes, recycle, use CFLs instead of incandescents, etc. – but are both well aware that these actions have very little influence on the overall problem of climate change. The Open Letter is our attempt to impact the greatest crisis humanity has ever faced by influencing the people whose impact would be unequivocal.

How did you decide on the list of addressees?

Given the content of the letter, the target audience is clearly “parents with power”. However, the parents with the most power need to be called out specifically, with no possibility of self-exemption. We focused on four groups:

●     The politically powerful: Heads of the top ten greenhouse gas emitting countries.

●     The commercially powerful: Heads of the top ten energy companies by revenue. We considered targeting large companies generally, but energy companies are amply represented in that group and are also at the core of the climate crisis.

●     The socially powerful: Editors-in-chief of top-ten news outlets ranked by audience size. These are the people with the biggest megaphones, who set the tone for this conversation globally.

●     The financially powerful: The top ten wealthiest people in the world. If this group were to divest fully from fossil fuels and devote their resources to pursuing renewables, the world would change.

What is this fundraising campaign all about?

We’re trying to raise enough money to get the Open Letter published as a full-page ad in The Wall Street Journal. The cost for that ad is $149,122. We’ve set our goal at $161,000, which is just enough to pay for the ad plus platform fees.

What do you hope the Open Letter will accomplish?

We want to galvanize the public’s demand for action first by raising the profile of what our addressees are and aren’t doing, and second by giving people a voice. We know this works because:

●     The more public pressure political leaders feel, the more likely they will be to craft positive legislation. Public pressure led directly to the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

●     The more public pressure energy execs feel, the more likely they will be to stop denying climate change and start investing in renewables. Public pressure crippled tobacco companies in the 1970s and 1980s.

●     The more public pressure media leaders feel, the more likely they will be to cover climate change consistently and comprehensively. Media coverage helped end the Vietnam War.

●     The more public pressure wealthy investors feel, the more likely they will be to divest from fossil fuels. Massive divestment helped end apartheid in South Africa.

Why The Wall Street Journal?

The Wall Street Journal has a global reach and likely is already arriving on our addressees’ doorsteps every day. Its editorial stance skews toward climate skepticism, making a letter like ours stand out far more than it would coming from a paper whose audience already agrees with us.

Why not do an Op-Ed instead of a paid advertisement? Op-Eds are free.

We want this to be a message from as many people as possible. An op-ed wouldn’t carry the same weight coming just from us as it will coming from a crowd of people who have contributed material support.

What happens if you don’t reach your goal?

If we don’t make our goal, we’ll still get however much we do raise (minus platform fees), and we’ll still be able to buy ad space and publish the letter in one or more of the other publications that have approved it (you can see the list on our website).

What happens if you make more than your goal?

If our campaign succeeds wildly and we make more than $161,000, we’ll publish the letter in one or more of those other papers in addition to publishing it in The Wall Street Journal. If the surplus is not enough to purchase more ads, we’ll donate the remainder to a climate change education organization.

What will you do after the letter is published?

Once we have sufficiently celebrated this minor victory, we will keep applying pressure to global VIPs via similar projects!

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