The Long Beach GSC’s original goal was to pass a resolution committing our school
district to 100% clean energy by 2040. This was our basic mission statement that I recited so
many times, I didn’t even have to think about it. I would rattle it off to anyone who asked.
However, while our core goals remained the same, what we accomplished in the end was quite different. After over a year of trying to pass a resolution, we were making very little progress. Our school district had a tradition of never passing resolutions that came from outside organizations, and they did not want to break this tradition. At one meeting with our district’s facilities director, he suggested we look into a recently adopted board policy that committed the district to going green but named no specific goals. The next week, we had completely pivoted, and our main goal was to update this board policy so that it included a commitment to clean energy by 2040.
When this change first occurred, I was left reeling. Despite having been one of the first
people in our campaign to hear about this possibility, I was initially dismissive of it, simply
because it was different from what I was used to. Passing a resolution felt so vital and central to our vision that I could not conceive of abandoning that. It took some time for me to recognize that the resolution was simply a vessel for an actual climate solution, and that changing the vessel would not change the environmental impact. Once I came to terms with this, I embraced the policy update wholeheartedly. In the end, this was the best decision we could have made, because we ended up passing the board policy, committing our district to a transition to clean energy.
WHEN TO PIVOT
If your campaign efforts are stagnating or if you are facing setbacks, it may be time to
pivot. This should not necessarily be your first approach, however. It is important to remember that political change takes time, and patience and persistence are vital to achieving it. A pivot should come after you have exhausted one method and it has proved ineffective. At this point, it is likely that trying a different method will be a better use of your resources. For example, if your campaign’s main strategy is is primarily focused on protesting, but you have been making no progress, you might consider taking a more diplomatic approach by meeting with your district officials and discussing possibilities more privately. The opposite can also be true: if diplomatic approaches have consistently failed, gathering large crowds and protesting can be effective in showing that you have community support.