Inside Citizens' Climate Lobby
Michael Pinkert is an active member of the National Science Policy Network (NSPN), serving as the Vice-Chair of Communications. Outside of work, NSPN, and biking, Michael also spends time as the co-leader of the Madison-WI Citizens' Climate Lobby chapter and has agreed to share his experience working with a policy advocacy organization with NSPN.
Q: What is Citizens’ Climate Lobby’s mission?
Citizens’ Climate Lobby / Citizens’ Climate Education is a non-profit, nonpartisan, international grassroots advocacy organization focused on national policies to address climate change. We teach volunteers to exercise their personal power through friendly interactions with congress, engaging them as citizens and healing our democracy by building relationships based on mutual respect. We are building a bipartisan consensus for climate action to bring about durable change.
Our current goal is to pass a national carbon fee and dividend, currently embodied by the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, which we believe to the single most impactful solution to climate change as it is effective, good for people, good for the economy, revenue-neutral, and thus bipartisan.
Q: How did you get involved with CCL?
I was looking for new volunteering opportunities and the local CCL chapter showed up in a search in VolunteerMatch, a volunteer engagement network with a volunteering search engine. I joined CCL’s Wednesday informational call and then started showing up to the monthly chapter meetings. The Madison chapter members were very welcoming and I’ve been part of the group ever since.
Q: What sort of programming/efforts have you taken part of?
The highlight of my time with CCL was meeting with congressional offices in Washington D.C. during their national lobby day. During this lobby day, CCL meets with virtually every congressional office. Any volunteer is welcome to sign up for the lobby day and CCL trains them during the national conference beforehand. I had the exciting experience of traversing the halls of Congress and meeting with three different offices to respectfully ask the members of Congress to support climate action. It was an empowering and affirming experience; before CCL, I never imagined I could take part in such an activity.
I have also done many other activities with CCL. As a regular volunteer, I’ve written letters to the editor for newspapers, hand-wrote letters to members of congress, tabled at local events to share CCL’s vision with attendees, and called congressional offices.
As a burgeoning leader, I automated an email-reminder system for calling congressional offices. One of the biggest things CCL hears is that not enough people are calling about climate change. Our solution was to have our volunteers routinely call every month, generating a steady drumbeat of support for climate action. Prior to my involvement, the emails were sent out manually. I dove in to save effort for everyone involved and managed to automate the reminders and call logging.
Now, I am working on structuring the Madison chapter. We are one of the largest CCL chapters and we are figuring out how to handle our transition from a small and tightly-knit group to a 50+ active member chapter. This has given me a lot of experience in the organization and systems side of volunteering.
Q: What skill(s) have you been able to use from CCL in other aspects of your life?
The core of CCL’s approach is building relationships. We are taught to engage in active listening, to seek connections based on common ground, to view people of opposing viewpoints with respect, and to be persistent yet unfailingly friendly. These skills are highly valuable to all interpersonal relationships, whether in personal or professional life.
As a chapter leader, I have also learned many organizational and leadership skills.
Q: If people wanted to get involved, how would they go about it?
The easiest way to get involved is to join the introductory call every Wednesday evening to learn more.