A special new Google Group has been created that will have only messages about actions that you can take. All messages will be written in a simple, compact format that make it easy for you to see what’s happening and when it is happening, what kind of help will be needed, and any other information that will help you decide whether the volunteer opportunity is right for you.
Anybody can post to the group as long as the content and format are appropriate. All we ask is that you only post action items that are relevant for climate activists in the Berkshires, and that you include these features in your post:
- A clear subject line
- A brief summary at the top of the email body
- Include all relevant information for people to participate in an easy-to-ready format
- If needed, a clear and specific request for response at the end of the summary
Please sign up at https://groups.google.com/d/forum/350ma-berkshires-alerts.
350Mass Berkshire Alerts Group FAQ
Table of Contents
The Short Version
The 350Mass Berkshire Alerts Group is a place to read and post action items that are relevant to climate activists in the Berkshires. Anyone can post as long as the message is relevant to the purpose of the group and is written with these features:
A clear subject line
A brief summary at the top of the email body
Include all relevant information for people to participate in an easy-to-ready format
If needed, a clear and specific request for response at the end of the summary
Anyone can respond to an action item as long as their response is relevant to making sure that they or others have what they need to take action.
The group is moderated to ensure that people looking for actions that they can take will find the messages to be consistently relevant and useful.
Everything else in this FAQ explains the above in more detail. Please read or skim it if you intend to submit or reply to an action item.
What is the 350Mass Berkshires Alerts Google Group?
The Alerts group for the 350Mass Berkshires node is intended to help members stay informed about opportunities for them to take action, such as signing a petition, showing up for a protest, writing a letter, and so on. This group is focused on making it easy for climate activists in the Berkshires to find and sift through different volunteer opportunities to find the ones that best fit with their personal goals, strengths, and limitations as volunteers.
What kinds of information will be posted to the group?
Anything that is a request for volunteer participation—letter writing, showing up at a protest, creating signs, joining a committee, etc.—as long as they are relevant to the work of the 350Mass Berkshires node.
I already get too many emails that don’t help me; how will this group be different?
We’re trying to make this group as useful as possible in three ways:
We are providing guidelines to keep the discussions focused on actions that climate activists in the Berkshires can take. General discussions will be moved elsewhere.
We are requiring that all posts be written in a simple, easy-to-read (and easy-to-write) format described below so that you can scan the emails quickly to find the volunteer opportunities that are best for you.
We are moderating the forum to make sure that participants make reasonable efforts to follow the guidelines.
Who can post to the 350Mass Berkshires group?
Anyone is welcome to join and post as long as their content and format are consistent with the guidelines in this FAQ.
Do I have to be an organizer of some action in order to post about it?
No, but we ask that you do take some responsibility for writing the email in and following up. Please be prepared to monitor responses and help potential volunteers get any additional information that they need (or refer them to somebody who can). If your action requires complex coordination that is more than you feel you can take on yourself, (like organizing buses to a protest, for example), then your original post should include a call for other organizers to volunteer.
Think about it this way: You are making a volunteer effort yourself by posting to the Berkshire Alerts group. Investing a small amount of time to summarize the need in an easy-to-read message and follow up to help people with questions is part of your volunteer effort.
Can I post calls to action about non-climate-related political causes?
Please don’t. While we recognize the strong desire of people to stay up-to-date on a variety of causes that interest them, we want to keep this particular group focused so that people who want to take climate action can easily find activities they can take. We encourage other activist organizations to start similar groups for their causes.
Can I post climate action events that are outside of the Berkshires?
Yes, but please keep in mind that this forum is primarily intended to help climate activists who live in the Berkshires find steps that are practical for them to take. If there is an event in Boston or the Pioneer Valley, for example, we ask that call to action include a focus on helping Berkshire residents find a way to get to the event. Please do not post such an event unless you are willing to take some responsibility for helping to organize action from Berkshire residents.
Also, if you are from a sister group or another node, please do not post all of your activities outside the Berkshires automatically to the Berkshires Alerts group. Again, the general goal of this group is to help activists in the Berkshires organize. If you are in doubt about whether your post is appropriate, please reach out to moderators Michael Feldstein (firstname.lastname@example.org) or John Prusinski (email@example.com).
Can I just forward an action email that I got from another group?
We ask that you take a few minutes to summarize the email into the format described later in this FAQ rather than just forwarding emails. This small investment of your time will help ensure that activists are more likely to be able to find the volunteer opportunities that are best for them from what we hope will be a rich and ever-growing list of possibilities.
I just sent an email; why hasn’t my post appeared yet?
In order to make sure that the group is as useful as possible, we are moderating submissions. While we will do our very best to process these submissions quickly, this is a volunteer effort. We ask for your patience.
Posting an Action Item
How do I post an action item?
If you would like to post an action item, we ask that you include several elements in your message, including messages about opportunities that you are passing on from other sources:
A clear subject line: Please make sure that your subject line includes the type of action (e.g., “petition” or “protest” or “tabling”) and a brief description of the action. For example, “Petition: Tell the President to set new guidelines for FERC.” If you are forwarding an email from somebody else, please remove the “Fwd:” and edit the subject line as needed to conform to this format.
A brief summary at the top of the email body: Whether you are writing the call to action yourself or forwarding somebody else’s, please write your own short summary at the top of the email that lets people know the basics of the event at a glance. It should be no more than two sentences, with the first sentence explaining who, what, where, and when, and the second one explaining why. For example, “MassPlan is organizing a rally in Boston at the statehouse on January 15th in support of climate pricing. This is important because the legislature will be bringing the carbon pricing bill up for a vote in February.”
Include all relevant information for people to participate in an easy-to-ready format: Remember, the idea is to help people who want to do something. Please don’t just post a reference to an event without relevant details. Please also don’t just forward a message from some other group that is filled with irrelevant information. Whenever possible and appropriate, please take a few minutes to boil down the information to the essentials that the readers will need to participate. The easier you make it for them to know what to do, the more likely it is that they will do it.
If needed, a clear and specific request for response at the end of the summary: If you need people to respond to the call to action in some particular way, include it in your summary at the top. For example, “We are organizing transportation to Boston. Please reply to this thread if you want to go and either can drive or need a ride.”
Can you give me an example of a well-written action item?
Poster creators and distributors needed for 6/21 attorney general visit
We need people to create and distribute posters to advertise Attorney General Maura Healey’s visit to Pittsfield on 6/21 to discuss the pipeline situation. This is particularly important because we have an opportunity to push her to take more aggressive action on the pipeline tax.
Maura Healey has accepted the node’s invitation to come and discuss the various pipelines we are fighting in Massachusetts and what her office intends to do to help. We need somebody with graphic design skills to design a poster. We also need people willing to go around their towns and put up the posters wherever they can.
We would like to have the poster design ready for the printer by 6/5 and have volunteer putting up the posters on or about the weekend of 6/12.
Please respond to this message to let me know your interest. If you are volunteering to distribute posters, please include which town or towns you can cover in your message.
Thanks in advance for your help,
Replying to an Action Item
What happens when I reply to an action item?
Please only reply to an action item post either if there was a specific request for a response or if your response is intended to help you or other potential participants take the action being requested. Please do not reply to an action item posting unless your reply is about facilitating the action being requested. Messages that just say “This is great!” or “Thank you for doing this!” are not appropriate responses for the forum (although they are very nice and welcome through private email or other communication channels).