September 8, 2014

5 Tips for Meme-ing Your Delegation to the People's Climate March

636 Examples of “Story Memes” for the People's Climate March – each image features a photo of a community leader and their motivation for getting involved with the March. 

Stories are one of our most powerful organizing tools. Seeing stories of fellow organizers can help us feel like we're part of a great big saga of change – and often enough stories can inspire those on the fence to want to get more involved!

We want to help you use the power of social media to tell the stories of your delegation to the People's Climate March.

Let's say you're coming with a campus group from New Jersey, or you're riding one of the fleet of buses from Vermont...Imagine if you created a series Internet posters that featured photos of your fellow travelers, and if those posters showed a little bit of their story as well (we call these mash-ups “Story Memes”). And imagine if those memes went viral—which they often do—inspiring more and more people to jump on the bus, or get involved beyond the March. Well, this is all completely doable! 

Below are 5 steps to creating story-rich memes for your People's Climate March Delegation:

  1. Seeking out nominations. Maybe you already know who you want to spotlight, but if not, ask around for nominations. And ask for introductions too. Generally local organizers and coordinators are very well connected folks and are more than happy to connect you with community members.
  2. Story-listening. This is the meatiest (or tofu-iest) part of the process. I try to learn something personal about everyone I feature in a meme. Something that tells the world more about their experience, of where they come from, or how they got involved in this work.

    We have some story prompts you're welcome to choose from here. In addition to asking questions like, “Have you or someone you love ever been affected by the fossil fuel industry or by a climate disaster?” and “Can you tell me about the first moment of injustice you ever experienced?” I'll also try to ask “How would you finish this sentence?, 'I'm going to the Peoples Climate March because...'”

    One thing I'm keen for is to really dig into peoples' stories. I try not to use that word lightly. As much as I want inspiring quotes, I want people to tell me about moments and experiences that forged who they are. I want to learn about the struggles and memorable events that shaped their commitment to climate justice. That way if someone new sees their story and has had a similar experience – well, maybe they could see themselves as a climate activist too.

    I'll sometimes go back and forth with people over email or in person to help finesse their story some more, often trying to peel back and go deeper in areas that seem more compelling. Don't be afraid to ask follow-up questions, like, “Can you tell me more about...” or “What do you mean by so and so...”
  3. Photography. After I have a story-quote that I feel good about, I will either take a bunch of photos of the storyteller (if we're doing this in person), or ask them to send me a 2-3 high-res photos over email. I usually stress that we want photos that show people's faces clearly in a close-up, with maybe a hint of what you'd call home in the background.

    I also stress that I need the original photo file (i.e. - the files downloaded from a camera or a cell phone). I explain that we're not looking for pics downloaded from Facebook because unfortunately those are compressed lower-quality image files :(. The higher quality photo you get, the higher quality meme you can craft. 
  4. Meme Slinging. Ok, now you have all the ingredients you need to make a knock-out meme! And fortunately, we have lots of resources to help you here!

    First off, there are a number of free/cheap and and most definitely easy tools for designing memes. Anyone can do it! I've probably made over a 1,000 memes for the climate movement and I still don't know how to use Photoshop ;).

    If you have a mac, I recommend checking out Pixelmator, and check out this tutorial for using Pixelmator to make movement memes.  If you want to use free web-based tools to make memes, check out and

    Second off, there are certain colors and fonts you can use if you want your meme to have that special People's Climate March feel. Check out this simple style guide to get acquainted.

    You can also find the PCM logos and other basic designs here (just scroll all the way down).

    And we have templates you can use to make your meme-slinging even easier here. Templates are pre-made designs in which all you pretty much have to do is drop in a photo and a quote, and walla, you're done! 
  5. Publish your meme! Now you're ready to go live! Well, post away! I suggest posting to your ongoing campaign facebook page (like 350 Vermont, or UVM Divest Now), rather than posting to a facebook event or personal page.

    Important: Remember to use the #PeoplesClimate hashtag in the description of your meme, so that your story will show up here!

Imagine if delegations from as far away as Idaho to the Zephyr Train coming full of young activists from California, and campus groups from Maine to West Virginia and so on all had abums featuring the stories of the beautiful rainbows of people who are coming together for this epic march? I think we'd really see our power, we'd see we're everywhere, and we'd inspire more and more people to join in. A fair share of us are working on bringing this vision to life, and I hope you'll join us! 

Are you inspired to get storytelling? You're welcome to join a fresh google group for Storytellers for the People's Climate March! We will also have an "Art of Movement Photography" Online Training this Thursday Sep 11st, and a big in-person Storytellers Training in NYC on September 20th! You can RSVP for both/either here

*Thank you Thelma Young, Duncan Meisel, Matthew Anderson, Ashley Anderson, and Charlie Furman for pioneering memes, story prompts, hubs, and meme-slinging tools and templates that made their way into this piece.