The idea for Fossil Free Media emerged through a series of conversations that I’ve been having with fellow activists and communications folks over the past few years of living, breathing, and working in the climate justice movement.

Talk to the communications staff at just about any climate or environmental nonprofit and they’ll tell you about how they wish they had more time, resources or attention to devote to their work. I know that I always felt that way while leading strategic communications at, an international organization that was blessed with far greater resources than the vast majority of grassroots groups.

Our communications team would always be brimming with ideas that we didn’t have the capacity to pull off: a video series that profiled frontline fossil fuel fights around the country, a series of fact sheets that pulled together the best arguments against new fossil fuel projects, a spokesperson program that could lift up a diverse set of frontline voices, a journalism network that would support a new generation of muckrakers who were exposing industry abuses…the list went on and on.

The nature of running communications for a campaign or advocacy organization is that you are always playing catch up. Just getting out the press releases about existing work can take up an inordinate amount of time, meaning when rapid response opportunities arise, it’s often difficult to pivot quickly enough to seize them. Especially in today’s media environment, the difference between shaping a story and missing it completely is often just a matter of hours. The cumbersome nature of most NGOs means that important moments can often pass them by.

There’s also the paradox that the people with the best stories to tell often have the least resources to tell them. The vast majority of communications resources in the environmental movement are centered in organizations that are based on the coasts and have federal policy as their focus. That means that even the slightest development in Congress will see a flurry of press releases with quote sheets a mile long (with a lot of quotes from white guy policy wonks). Meanwhile, the stories of grassroots fights against fossil fuel infrastructure, the impacts of pollution on frontline communities, or the efforts of rural communities to battle fossil fuel extraction often go left untold.

This concentration of power in more established, DC oriented groups also means that the things the environmental community spends its time communicating about aren’t the things that are going to build us a movement powerful enough to address the climate emergency. This is particularly true when it comes to fossil fuels. There’s a sense in DC that “taking on the fossil fuel industry” is a political liability and policies to end fossil fuel extraction are just the radical notions of the “keep it in the ground” movement.

But while that may be the current status quo inside the Beltway, out across the country it’s an entirely different story. Everywhere you look, communities are rising up to stop new fossil fuel projects, environmental justice advocates are educating their neighbors about the health impacts of pollution, and politicians are coming under fire for their connections to Big Oil. When people hear about the ways the fossil fuel industry has lied about the climate crisis, or how our politicians are busy bailing out Big Oil instead of helping American families, they’re pissed. That’s just a story that isn’t told often enough.

The climate justice movement has done what it can to address these challenges. There are dozens of brilliant artists, writers, activists, and staff who work tirelessly to bring more creativity, diversity, and power to our movement’s communications efforts. But despite all of our best efforts, there are still serious gaps.

This is where I hope Fossil Free Media will come in. Fossil Free Media is designed to be a nonprofit media lab that can support the movement to end fossil fuels and address the climate emergency.

We’ll do that in three main ways:

First, by providing direct communications support. That means everything from providing advice to helping write up a set of talking points about a particular fight.

Second, by building a set of resources that can help groups with their communications efforts. Those will include a Fossil Fuel Research Library, talking points, fact sheets, graphics, video capacity, and more. We’ll also be supporting a journalism network that focuses on exposing industry abuses, an artist network that pairs movement artists with grassroots organizations, a social media project that will help amplify frontline voices and fossil fuel fights, and more

Third, by running our own strategic communications campaigns. We want to take the “lab” part of Fossil Free Media seriously and experiment with campaigns that can advance new arguments against the fossil fuel industry. Over the past few months, we’ve run a video series with the YEARS Project that tested different arguments against fossil fuels, helped push back against the Big Oil Bailout the Trump Administration is pushing under the guise of coronavirus relief, and targeted TV News for not connecting extreme weather to fossil fuel pollution. Stay tuned for some more exciting efforts coming down the pipe.

If we do our job right, Fossil Free Media will become a valuable resource for the wider climate justice movement. By serving the needs of others, while running some exciting projects of our own, we can help lift up the incredible work that is already underway and make all our efforts add up to more than the sum of their parts.

In the end, our goal is as daunting as it is simple: completely transform the conversation about fossil fuels. Because when people realize the damage this industry has done to our communities, the economy, our democracy, the climate, you name it, we can finally build something better in its place.

Communications is only one piece of this struggle. As always, the most important work is already happening on the frontlines, where people are fighting the fossil fuel industry in a million and one different ways.

Our goal is to help them tell their story.