Webinar: Sunrise Movement, Momentum, and Political Alignments

What’s this webinar about?

Sunrise Movement leaders discuss how the organization came into being, as well as how their campaigns have been grounded in lessons learned from past social movements. 

The webinar explains Sunrise Movement's 'theory of change' to build:

  • People power: Large, vocal, and active based of popular support;

  • Political power: Credible path to victory around which to organize and mobilize critical mass and put pressure on decision-makers; and

  • Political alignment: Grouping of political and social forces that align together, establishing a new 'common sense' and advancing an agenda for society based on shared vision and values

Sunrise Movement leaders also discuss how they successfully leveraged the 'Cycle of Momentum' model in the weeks followed the November 2018 midterms to launch their campaign in support of the Green New Deal:

  • Escalation: Series of arrestable, direct action protests in D.C. (amplified through social media) to get people's attention and demonstrate depth of leadership's commitment to cause -- culminating in larger protest outside of Representative Pelosi's office. 

  • Absorption: Using attention garnered through 'escalation' tactics to bring thousands of new young folks into the movement and plugging them into organizational opportunities (trainings, large calls, local hubs, etc.)

  • Active popular support: Leveraging their larger, distributed network to spread, replicate story, strategy, and structure, continuing to build the movement 

Additional Resources

Here are some additional resources, as referenced in the webinar:

  • This inspiring video of recent Sunrise actions

  • This video on the right’s deployment of strategic racism that Sara mentioned in the Q&A and the need to address race to solve the problem of inequality in the U.S.

  • And another book on strategic racism mentioned in the Q&A: Dog Whistle Politics by Ian Haney López and Heather McGhee

  • If you want to learn more about Sunrise’s strategy, this MobLab piece goes in depth into their narrative and tactics and we think it’s a great read.

  • Lissy Romanow of Momentum describes in this Waging Nonviolence piece how Sunrise Movement and Justice Democrats use disruption conflict and polarization to change what’s winnable

To get involved with Sunrise:

  • Sign up to join the largest ever demonstration at a presidential debate to make climate justice real and #changethedebate.

  • Donate or become a monthly sustainer to support their work.

Key Momentum Concepts

We also wanted to highlight a few parts of the article that mention core Momentum concepts and point you to a few further resources.

Here’s an introduction to Momentum concepts, including the social view of power, escalation, absorption, frontloading, and more.

The two traditions of organizing, structure and mass protest, is one of the core concepts of the Momentum curriculum. Read more about it here. Sunrise has been using a brilliant hybrid of both organizing traditions and harnessing opportunities to target politicians and run voter mobilization campaigns.

Establishing the DNA of an organization – its structure, theory of change, and core principles – before launching is one of key goals of the process of frontloading. Check out this brief description. We take participants through an overview of this process in our core trainings, and will be offering a more in depth view at this process and how it’s been used by movements like Sunrise, IfNotNow, and Cosecha at our Advanced Strategy Skillshare this fall.

Check out our trainings this year to learn more >>