Participants tackle "Climate Works for All" campaign with ALIGN:NYC at our Annual Advanced training (Part 1 of 2)


Every year at the Advanced Training (AT), CSS gathers together change agents from all parts of the country to learn, collaborate and to immerse themselves with their peers in story-based strategy. A huge part of the AT is the ever-popular campaign lab, where participants are divided into small groups to apply story-based strategy to a real world campaign of one of the participants. This year, one of the groups worked on a campaign for ALIGN: NYC.  The campaign that was developed is called “Climate Works for All,” and here is the story it plans to tell. 

“The climate crisis is here and our communities are facing down storms of poverty and a drought of jobs. Our voices are absent from the decisions that created this crisis, but our people can be the heroes of our communities. Pouring public investment into creating a climate workforce will create opportunities for our communities to lift ourselves out of poverty and create healthy and thriving community.” 

This is in contrast to the old and outdated story that has been told in NYC that New Yorkers (as a homogenous group) will come together to overcome the bureaucratic obstacles of Big Government and come up with private sector solutions to climate change. The new story focuses on the solution of a community controlled climate workforce rather than relying on the private sector and capitalism to solve the climate problem.
For many of the participants, working on a campaign in a lab-type setting where collaboration, diversity, creativity, and FUN are fundamental, is a new way of going about their work. 

Below are excerpts from an interview with the Align Campaign Lab Team. We invite you to check out what folks had to say about this immersive experience.


What were some of the most positive parts about working together as a Campaign Lab?
So many things were new - new brain work, new experiences, new tools. Once we got into a riff, we were just firing things off left and right. Having fun and using the Fairy Tales tool was super key. It was great to have to stretch our imagination. Having a clear process for how to come up with the ideas was super helpful.

What were some of the most difficult parts about working together as a Campaign Lab?
There was a lot of learning we had to do to catch up on what we didn’t know about the campaign and the work of ALIGN (unfamiliar vocabulary, etc.). We all came together from so many different work perspectives and world views, it took us a minute to get connected. We kept adding and adding to the list of options of what was possible and what we needed to do. But basically the main hurdle was not knowing which (SBS) tool to use.

If you could have had the skills or attributes of folks outside your lab for some help what would they have been?
We would’ve loved someone with computer graphic skills. Someone really fun and but not so serious. Someone who seems to get telling stories really well.
What kind of SBS Tool do you think is missing from what you needed to help with the work?
It would be great to have a music based tool. And, it would be great to have a way to know which tool to use and when- a tool for tools.

Do you think you will see any of your Campaign Lab suggestions in the actual campaign work that ALIGN will be pursuing?
"Yes!" (6 people)
"Not Sure." (1 person)
"No. I think some things are still unclear and that having clarity is imperative." (1 person)

NOTE: Over the next year, we will be following ALIGN’s “Climate Works for All” campaign. We will document campaign wins and obstacles, and we will learn how story-based strategy has been incorporated into the work. As we go along, we will share updates via a blog series that we hope will give you a closer look at the story-based strategy process and the impact it can have on a real world campaign, start to finish! So stay tuned and find out how the “Climate Works for All” campaign takes shape!