Principles of Working Together

Jemez Principles for Democratic Organizing and Guidelines for Conduct of USCAN Members:

Preamble: At USCAN we believe in the power of networks. Building on this belief, USCAN is working to align a network that is reflective of affected communities and organizations working on climate change across the United States.

In order to develop a movement strong enough to meet the challenge of climate change, we must remain connected and united by our common goals to reduce US greenhouse gas pollution, to increase climate preparedness, to inspire the United States’ positive leadership in international forums to secure equitable, effective climate policies, and to support on-the-ground implementation of climate solutions. To ensure the network's effectiveness, credibility, cohesion, and advancement toward these common goals, USCAN has adopted the Jemez Principles to guide conduct of member organizations.

Guidelines for Conduct of USCAN Members:

USCAN members are encouraged to share initiatives and communications with fellow members across the network. Wherever possible, notifications should allow enough time for meaningful feedback. Members agree that any information shared within the USCAN is confidential until made public by the originating organization(s). USCAN members are required to participate in meetings of USCAN and its various working groups as noted in the USCAN strategic plan. Within the guidelines of the network’s shared mission, USCAN’s staff support democratically selected priorities of network members. All decisions such as board elections and approval of new members are circulated to the membership allowing sufficient time for meaningful feedback for no less than 48 hours. Members take responsibility for ensuring that USCAN is a network built on enduring relationships and trust. As a network we subscribe to the Jemez Principles as follows:

#1 Be Inclusive. If we hope to achieve just societies that include all people in decision-making and assure that all people have an equitable share of the wealth and the work of this world, then we must work to build that kind of inclusiveness into our own movement in order to develop alternative policies and institutions to the treaties policies under neoliberalism. This requires more than tokenism, it cannot be achieved without diversity at the planning table, in staffing, and in coordination. It may delay achievement of other important goals, it will require discussion, hard work, patience, and advance planning. It may involve conflict, but through this conflict, we can learn better ways of working together. It’s about building alternative institutions, movement building, and not compromising out in order to be accepted into the anti-globalization club.

#2 Emphasis on Bottom-Up Organizing. To succeed, it is important to reach out into new constituencies, and to reach within all levels of leadership and membership base of the organizations that are already involved in our networks. We must be continually building and strengthening a base which provides our credibility, our strategies, mobilizations, leadership development, and the energy for the work we must do daily.

#3 Let People Speak for Themselves. We must be sure that relevant voices of people directly affected are heard. Ways must be provided for spokespersons to represent and be responsible to the affected constituencies. It is important for organizations to clarify their roles, and who they represent, and to assure accountability within our structures.

#4 Work Together In Solidarity and Mutuality. Groups working on similar issues with compatible visions should consciously act in solidarity, mutuality and support each other’s work. In the long run, a more significant step is to incorporate the goals and values of other groups with your own work, in order to build strong relationships. For instance, in the long run, it is more important that labor unions and community economic development projects include the issue of environmental sustainability in their own strategies, rather than just lending support to the environmental organizations. So communications, strategies and resource sharing is critical, to help us see our connections and build on these.

#5 Build Just Relationships Among Ourselves. We need to treat each other with justice and respect, both on an individual and an organizational level, in this country and across borders. Defining and developing “just relationships” will be a process that won’t happen overnight. It must include clarity about decision-making, sharing strategies, and resource distribution. There are clearly many skills necessary to succeed, and we need to determine the ways for those with different skills to coordinate and be accountable to one another.

#6 Commitment to Self-Transformation. As we change societies, we must change from operating on the mode of individualism to community-centeredness. We must “walk our talk.” We must be the values that we say we’re struggling for and we must be justice, be peace, be community.

Member Center Action Teams