Joshua Kahn Russell is an organizer working to bridge movements for ecological balance and racial justice. Joshua was a lead organizer on the campaign that defeated the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline that was proposed by Transcanada in the United States. He has worked for 6 years across the border on Tar Sands issues. He is a strategy and non-violent direct action trainer with the Ruckus Society, and serves communities directly impacted by fossil fuel extraction.
Joshua offers workshops, training, consulting, facilitation, and action coordination to groups and organizations.
He has authored chapters for several books and numerous organizing manuals, most recently Organizing Cools the Planet: Tools and Reflections to Navigate the Climate Crisis, with Hilary Moore, on PM Press. Joshua is a regular writer for the blogs Znet, Grist, Rabble.ca, WireTap, and Its Getting Hot In Here, and his articles have appeared in Yes! Magazine, Left Turn Magazine, Peacework Magazine, Upping the Anti, and Z Magazine, among others.
Joshua has worked internationally with civil society groups at United Nations Climate Negotiations and has been a leading voice in the International Youth Climate Movement. Joshua spent four years as Rainforest Action Networks Grassroots Actions Manager, helping to win campaigns to stop corporations from fueling our addiction to coal and oil, and helping transform Wall Street with successful campaigns that shifted six banks away from financing fossil fuel projects.
Joshua has coordinated and helped build numerous civil disobedience actions, including the 4,000 person Capitol Climate Action in 2009. Recently he was a trainer for the Tar Sands Action which mobilized 1,250 people including scientists, senators, Indigenous leaders, farmers, teachers, mothers, religious leaders, students and celebrities to participate in 2 weeks of daily sit-ins at the White House. He has served on the steering committee of the Energy Action Coalition, a youth-led coalition of over 48 groups spanning the environmental spectrum, and helped found the new Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), a national multi-issue youth & student group, which in less than a year grew to over 250 chapters and nearly 3,000 members nationwide. He helped revitalize the Activist Resource Center and other student groups at Brandeis University, where he coordinated university-wide student walkouts in 2003 and 2006. He was awarded a fellowship from the International Center for Ethics, Justice, and Public Life; The Elise Boulding Sociology and Social Activism Award; and the Karpf Peace Award. During that time he has done international solidarity work in Cambodia, Jamaica, and Mexico with groups such as the Womyns Agenda for Change and the International Jamaican Council for Human Rights.
His artwork has appeared on the cover of books authored by INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence, and Noam Chomsky, smartMeme, and in the Celebrate Peoples History poster series.
Trainings and Workshops: Joshua is available to facilitate retreats, strategic planning sessions, or consult on a longer term basis. He offers workshops on a wide variety of topics, and all curriculum is custom designed to meet your group’s goals. Workshops can last from a few hours to a few days or even weeks based on your groups needs and capacity. Trainings Joshua has offered in the past include:
- Social Movement Strategy
- Campaign Strategy Action Strategy
- Design Organizing 101, 102, 103
- Facilitation Media
- Message development
- Introduction to Ecological Justice
- U.S. Social Movement History
- Intro to Non-Violent Direct Action / Civil Disobedience
- Non-Violent Direct Action / Civil Disobedience planning and design
- Student & Youth Organizing
- Solidarity: navigating privilege and tools for allies
- Building your group Vision
In addition, Joshua is available to talk or host a multimedia discussion on a range of topics, including:
- Whats up with the U.N. Climate Change Negotiations?
- Theories of change in social movements
- Building our power: Social Movements in the 21st Century
- Whats Left? Learning from the Right
- Civil Disobedience: storytelling and learning from the past
- Direct Action Stories across movements
- Solidarity: supporting communities on the frontlines of coal and oil extraction
- Organize!: strengths and limitations of different organizing models from around the world
Joshua has trained, given talks to, & facilitated numerous groups including: American Jewish World Service, AW@L, Beehive Design Collective, GreenpeaceUSA, International Center for Ethics, Justice, and Public Life, Rainforest Action Network, Ruckus Society, Student Environmental Action Coalition (SEAC), United Nations International Youth Delegation (YOUNGO), United States Coastguard Academy, U.S. Social Forum, and Yale University.
Kind words about Joshua:
“Joshua Kahn Russell and Hilary Moores manual will be useful to all who want to make change creatively and peacefully in our brutal times.” – Dr. Vandana Shiva
“A little while back I felt myself weaving in and out of the sad adult pattern of throwing in the towel on humanity. Then I watched Joshua Kahn Russell get up in front of crowds of allegedly apathetic young music fans night after night, and systematically win them over to the sane side of the climate debate. He may help you pull your grown-up head out of your adult ass.” – Chris Hannah, Propagandhi
“In an atmosphere heavy doomsday predictions and fear, Organizing Cools the Planet is a breath of fresh air. Joshua Kahn Russell and Hilary Moore weave together stories and organizing tools to create a vision for practical transition amid the climate crisis. Their booklet confronts pressing questions of our time.” – Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Founding Director, Indigenous World Association & author.
“Joshua Kahn Russell is a dedicated, very effective organizer who operates with his eye on the bigger picture of building mass movements for structural change to society. I have seen him at work in a number of arenas and many would benefit from his insight and experience.” – Boots Riley, The Coup
“I watched Joshua Kahn Russell and his colleagues train more than a thousand people over two weeks to get arrested in civil disobedience. Not a one participant broke discipline; as far as I could tell every one of them was deeply satisfied with the training they got. It was hard duty, but given how often I’ve watched Joshua come through in the past it didnt surprise me a bit.” – Bill McKibben
“There is no task more urgent than to organize a mass popular movement to deal effectively with the looming environmental crisis. The barriers are high, the forces opposed powerful. All the more reason to dedicate ourselves to the kinds of efforts outlined in Joshua Kahn Russell and Hilary Moores booklet.” – Noam Chomsky
“As the climate crisis becomes increasingly unignorable, our movements must learn to navigate a rapidly changing and high stakes political landscape. Our times demand we think bigger, push harder, and reimagine the possibilities for 21rst century movement building. This potent little pamphlet is a great place to begin the conversation. Authored by two visionary young leaders who share their personal struggles and hard earned lessons from organizing at the intersection of justice, ecology and change, Organizing Cools the Planet is required reading for anyone who gives a damn about the future. Tune in for some indispensable analysis, provocative thinking and a healthy dose of people-powered optimism.” – Patrick Reinsborough, co-founder smartMeme Strategy & Training Project
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