We need everyone, from those of us living paycheck to paycheck on up to millionaires and billionaires, to join us in aligning our money with our values.
We need community groups, non-profit organizations, tribes and cities to invest in our futures. To do this, we must divest from pipelines and the fossil fuel industry.
Withhold your consent from a global finance system that puts profits ahead of our water, our land, our rights as Indigenous people and a safe planet for our future generations.
5 steps to DIVEST YOUR COMMUNITY
1. FIND IF YOUR COMMUNITY BANKS WITH PIPELINE FUNDERS
Call or email the City Clerk, Treasurer, Financial manager, or Finance Committee, and ask which bank they use to hold its annual cash flow. Ask how much money they entrust to each bank. They are legally obligated to tell you.
Alternatively, you can try calling your City Council Member that is the head of the City’s finance committee, and asking. If you can't find your city on the list, help us find out.
Check the bank by our list. If it turns out that the bank your city uses is financing one of the 4 targeted pipelines, congratulations: you have a campaign!
2. BUILD A COALITION OF LOCAL GROUPS
Find other groups in your community to ally with. In Seattle, the first city to move towards total divestment, the coalition was made up of a collective of leading Native American activists, as well as local groups such as Ndns for Justice, 350 Seattle, Coalition of Anti-Racist Whites and Our Revolution.
Make sure to center communities who are forced to bear the brunt of the destruction caused by fossil fuel extraction (e.g. communities near extraction sources, refineries, in the path of other pipeline projects).
3. Create an alternative
An ethical banking alternative could be as simple as switching to a "mission-aligned" bank or credit union that does not fund pipelines or fossil fuels, or as complex as developing a whole new public banking system.
FINDING A NEW COMMERCIAL BANK
Smaller cities may be able to use credit unions and mission aligned banks as alternatives.
Bigger cities need bigger banks. Credit unions and mission aligned banks may be out of the question. This leaves either a commercial bank that doesn't finance prisons, pipelines, firearms, etc., or a public bank. In order to ensure your town's values are represented in your new bank, we recommend following Seattle and Oakland's move by creating investment and contract ordinances (see Step 4).
Make a spreadsheet and compile a list of all the commercial banks in your area using this locator. Track if they are listed as a funder of pipelines. If your city is large, you may have an idea of how much US-chartered commercial banks have in assets by checking Federal Reserve statistics. Changing banks for a large city will also require decoupling the depository services contract.
Public banking is distinguished from private banking in that its mandate begins with the public's interest. Privately-owned banks, by contrast, have shareholders who generally seek short-term profits as their highest priority. Public banks are a way to build local wealth and resist the market’s predatory predilections. A few cities are leading the way for public banking in the US, including:
- Santa Fe had a feasibility study last year and are now creating a task force to generate the charter and business plan
- San Francisco will convene a public banking task force in July
- Oakland oted in June 2017 to dedicate $100K to a public banking feasibility study
- DC has voted to put a feasibility study in their city's budget
It is important to understand that public banking will fall into the same greedy traps as big banks if the charters are not authored with those most hurt by Wall Street, including indigenous people whose livelihoods, water rights, religious rights, and human rights have been risked by DAPL, Keystone XL, and other pipelines.
4. DRAFT AN ORDINANCE AND FIND A SPONSOR
Get the ball rolling by drafting an ordinance: You can use these ordinances passed by other cities to help draft your own:
Seattle [DAPL] Ordinance passed in February
San Francisco DAPL Resolution passed in March
San Francisco Public Banking Task Force resolution passed in April
Seattle Keystone XL Resolution passed in April
Find a City or Tribal Council Member who will support the ordinance: Who is the most connected to the broader community? Reach out to them and request a meeting. If you have already built a coalition by this point, you are more likely to get the meeting. Also, if you have any prominent locals who will speak out in support of the bill, bring them to the meeting as well.
Once you are at the meeting explain to the Council Member (or their legislative aide, if that is who you end up meeting with) that the City of Seattle, the Mille Lacs Tribe, and Muckleshoot Tribe have already done this -- and that you would like to see your own City/Tribe support Standing Rock by divesting from the big banks funding the pipeline.
Once you have a Council Member who has agreed to sponsor the bill, you are ready for the next vital step.
5. ORGANIZE GRASSROOTS SUPPORT
Create a Facebook page where you can create events, invite people to like your page and join your events, post updates on your campaign, and message us to get it shared by Mazaska Talks.
Use canva.com (it's free!) to create flyers and social media posts.
Plan a demonstration, drop a banner in a highly visible location, organize a day for the public to shut down their accounts at the same time. Pray for the water.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or would like help planning an action!