Why we’re building a new youth led movement for good jobs, great public services and a safe climate.
This story starts last year with 13 young people sitting around a table on Phillip Island. We’re at the kitchen table of the cheapest AirBnB within two hours of a major city. It’s November 2019, which is the before-times when you could do things like ask 13 strangers to sleep in the same house. To our amusement, the address of the AirBnB is 101 Justice Road.
We’re taking it in turns to go around the table to share what has brought us here. Someone tells a story about trying to live on government payments and it never being enough. A few people talk about climate change and their fear for their families and their future. Someone else talks about racism and its connection to climate and economic justice. I talk about mental health and all the young people I know who are dealing with anxiety and depression and my frustration that it is us who are treated like we’re broken, and not the society and systems that made us sick. Despite our different entry points, we are united by one idea – trying to fix each of these issues on their own hadn’t worked.
We started exploring what it would take to build a movement that could face up to the multiple crises crashing down on young people. A movement that was capable of connecting the issues of climate, economic and racial injustice by calling out their shared systemic roots. We wanted to start a movement that was clear eyed about the threats we faced and willing to fight for solutions that matched the scale of the problem.
This is why we started to build the Tomorrow Movement.
To get started, the 13 of us (plus and minus some others along the way) embarked on a process called Frontloading. We learned this concept from our friend Katie McChesney who is a co-founder of the US based Sunrise youth movement and a trainer for Momentum, an incredible social movement Incubator. Katie taught us that frontloading means taking the time to figure the strategy, story, structure and culture of a new movement so that when you launch it – you can then give these critical pieces away to a mass movement of young people who then have the core ingredients they need to win transformative change.
And that is what we’ve done. In some of the hardest months of our lives, the 13 of us built trust with each other, read books about strategy, learned about movements of the past, spent hundreds of hours on zoom debating ideas and strategies. Produced a first draft of our strategy, story and culture and got feedback from over 80 young people, largely friends who weren’t already involved in activism. We also shared it with older friends and advisers from other social justice movements. We had conversations with unionists, First Nations leaders, life long campaigners and strategists. Then we tore our first draft apart and rebuilt it again.
We watched in horror as fire swept across our country. We moved our second retreat because the cheapest airbnb available that weekend was too close to the fires. We wore masks to the replacement venues in the city because the air pollution was so bad. We updated our strategy in response to this context. And we did it again when COVID hit while members of our core team were losing work, negotiating with our landlords and adapting to our new reality in lock down.
And all of that has led us here.
Now we’re launching an unstoppable movement of young people fighting for a society with good jobs, great public services and a safe climate for all. We have a plan to organise young people all over the country to fight for a tomorrow that works for everyone, not just big business.
We are clear eyed about the threats we face. We know that solving the economic and climate crisis means taking on a political system that is designed to benefit big business instead of ordinary people. That big business maintains its power by dividing us based on the colour of our skin, where we went to school, and who we love. And they’ve gotten good at it.
We know that confronting this power and changing these systems will not be an easy task. And that’s why we’re calling for bold, transformative solutions like a minimum livable income and a climate jobs guarantee. It’s why our strategy, structure and culture are all built to grow. Because we know that community organising and mass movements are the only things that have ever won change at the scale we need. It’s why a key part of our strategy is building alignment and trust with other movements that share our goals.
And that’s why I’m writing this blog. Because though we started this project with just thirteen of us, it will take so many more people stepping up and taking action in a way they never have before to permanently shift the politics of this country.
So I’m asking you to join us. Check out our new website and learn more about who we are and what we’re doing. Find out about our plans to mobilise thousands of people to take action on the week in September that the government plans to cut back the coronavirus support payments and show that we won’t snap back to a society that only worked for big business. Learn about why we’re instead calling for big shifts to our economy like a minimum livable income, jobs guarantee and a safe climate. Learn about our plan to win. And come on board to make it better.
Or better yet – if you’re under 35 please come along to a welcome call and meet other young people who are also stepping up and fighting for a better tomorrow. (We hold them every Thursday night at 5.30pm.) If you’re young at heart and keen to support this work, check out our crowdfunder here>
The Tomorrow Movement’s symbol is a house shaped crest, featuring the sun rising over the ocean. We chose these symbols after many zoom calls, brainstorms, doodles, google slide documents and some tears, because it meant so much to us. The sun represents hope for a new kind of society that we know is possible. The wave represents the power of the mass movement we’ll need to win it. It’s contained within a house shaped crest because this is our home, and you better believe we’re going to do everything we can to fight for it.
I hope you’ll be fighting with us.
Cat Nadel is the Co-Director of YOUNG Campaigns, the organisation behind the Tomorrow Movement. She is a passionate community organiser and campaign strategist. Cat lives and works on Wurundjeri country in Naarm / Melbourne.