Early in 2017, we awarded an 8-month CMG Fellowship, including a $40,000 stipend, to Aleksei Wagner, a New York-based activist and filmmaker, to collaborate with 350.org’s digital campaign staff. Halfway through his fellowship, our CMG Fellow has already had a dramatic impact.
Aleksei began his term with an assessment of 350.org’s use of video through conversations with more than a dozen staff and research into the organization’s campaigns, messaging, resources and visual styles. This early research phase quickly shifted into vital production work creating media for the Peoples Climate March (PCM), held on April 29, 2017.
According to 350.org “A primary goal of the Peoples Climate March videos was recruitment for the march, and the recruitment numbers were higher than expected, with ~200k people in DC, ~300k people total and ~370 sister marches. 350.org was responsible for 38.7K RSVPS via the website, and another 2.2K on Facebook.” 350.org also expanded their email list by a new 9.2k people, more than the goal set by the digital team prior to the march.
Over the course of 2 months, Aleksei produced more than 15 videos for the Peoples Climate March in a diversity of styles (from studio shoots to documentary footage, and from animation to how-to videos) and a variety of processes (some taking less than a day and others up to a month).
The videos as a whole garnered more than 2.2 million views and more than 17,000 shares on 350.org’s social media, which doesn’t include all of the PCM partners’ metrics, who also shared the video content on their social channels.
While the 2017 Peoples Climate March was an event hosted through a collaboration of hundreds of organizations, 350.org produced some of the key video content leading up to and following the march for the coalition. A survey of PCM marches found that Facebook was the second most popular way people learned about the march, after personal networks.
“The PCM hype video with 904,000 views and the PCM wrap up video with a reach of 711,840 were two of the most popular videos,” 350.org reported, “Organizers for the People Climate March shared that the videos were especially useful in sharing our story: that of a massive movement rising up on the 100th day of the Trump administration for replacing the fossil fuel industry with a clean energy economy that works for all.”
In the evaluation survey sent to PCM staff, Sondra Youdelman, the Mobilization Coordinator for PCM wrote, “the videos generally speaking were AMAZING and really helped to tell the story that PCM was trying to tell, highlight voices from the frontline, and build energy on social media for the March. The videos were one of the pieces I was most impressed with and something that I'd definitely invest in in the future if I were involved in a similar project.”
Sabelo Narasimhan, 350.org’s North America Digital Campaign Manager who is hosting and supervising the CMG Fellow, agreed: “Aleksei is great at joining various campaign teams, understanding the context and opportunities there, and whipping up content - I’ve heard nothing but positive feedback from 350 staff on working with him.”
Perhaps more importantly than viewership and share metrics, Aleksei and Sabelo reported that the videos are a part of building relationships with partners, amplifying the voices of those on the frontlines of climate impacts, and making connections across movements.
Over 20 partner organizations participated in the PCM videos created by 350.org, highlighting and bringing together voices from immigrant justice, environmental justice, racial justice, indigenous rights, labor, faith based, and gender justice organizing in the climate justice movement. You can hear from movement leaders across the PCM coalition in videos like the “Why We March” video and a series of “Why I March” videos like these ones featuring Roberto Múkaro Borrero of International Indian Treaty Council, Melissa Miles of Ironbound Community Corporation, and Sonia Guinansaca of Culture Strike.
We’re so proud of Aleksei’s work with Sabelo and the 350.org team and astonished at how much he has accomplished in only the first half of his CMG Fellowship. For the remaining four months of his term, he’ll continue to work on videos for 350 campaigns, and will also focus on developing and documenting best practices to continue to build 350’s capacity for the work they do to build “a global grassroots movement to solve the climate crisis.” CMG is also planning a small retreat for the CMG Fellow and members of the 350.org digital team to develop a 3-year video media strategy for the organization.