This past fall (2014), Larry Coble,  Melissa Brice, and a number of Chicagoans began rallying together to bring their dream of a Divest Chicago movement to life.  We took a moment to ask them three questions about how they are starting a divestment movement from the ground up and they offered some quick tips and advice.For anyone wondering how to join the movement in Chicago, here are their answers and a number of ways to get involved. For those of you wondering how to get started in your own city, we added a few “get started” links at the end for you too. Enjoy and divest on!

1. Where did you get the idea to start a divestment movement in Chicago?
Melissa:  “The idea to start a Divestment Campaign came from watching Bill McKibben’s Do The Math movie. ” 
2. In your opinion, what are the first steps to starting a local divestment movement?
Melissa: “The way 350 has gone about starting our local movement has been to identify allies in the Chicago area who are willing to work on this campaign. We have identified those people through likes on our Facebook page, people who participated in the “Draw the Line Day of Action” back in Sept 2013, and most recently, people who  visited our booth at Greenfest.  Once we have support, we want to make sure that our fellow 350 members are educated about divestment.  
I would say the first steps are identifying those who want to work on the campaign and then educating each other.
We have also created monthly social hours at different bars in the Chicago area that offer locally-crafted beer.  These informal, fun interactions provide a pressure-free, relaxed way to introduce yourself to the group.  We spend only about 10 min half way through the event describing our group and their work.  We have found that initiating and beginning to build personal relationships increase volunteers’ willingness to participate in other campaign-focused events.”  
3. What do you think is the key to recruiting: volunteers, signers, and new members to your movement?
 Larry: “We have set up a web page with occasional posts regarding our activities. We don’t post everyday, but more periodically. 
Beyond the website, we tend to post more on Facebook, placing links to various articles from publishers such as Climate Progress and varying newspapers. Whenever I write a post on the 350Chicago website, I post it on our Facebook page as well, letting those who like our page to know of the activity on our groups website.  Facebook allows us to be visible on a more daily basis, allowing individuals interested in our organization to further their education regarding climate change.
As for the happy  hours, the idea for these social get togethers was originated by the group Drinking Liberally. We looked at the idea and decided it could work for us. With climate change being so consequential and alarming, we believed one way to spread the message is to have a less formal means of communicating the issue to prospective allies rather than a standard meeting at a coffee house. A little fun, like humor, often makes the news more palatable. We mainly use it as a means of connecting with other folks already involved or simply interested but have not become involved prior to the event.
I know our next debrief meeting will be regarding efforts to continually build our presence in the community, looking for new locations and events to table and present our group and message about divestment to folks already interested or unaware of climate change and the perils and challenges of tackling the issue.”
To check out the Divest Chicago petition, click here, and to read more on their first divestment events, read here.
To get started on your own divestment campaign, get started here, find more resources here, and visit the fossil free petition creation site here.