Building Power to Win Learning Series

Building Power To Win


Building Power to Win

This is an online-learning series designed to connect activists around Texas who want to see progressive change in climate and environmental justice policy in the Texas Legislature. It is convened by the Sierra Club and developed in partnership with other organizations including Every Texan, members of the Alliance for Clean Texas, the Texas Climate Collaborative, and a coalition of groups working on social and environmental justice issues. Note: The series was originally held in 2021 and recorded for the 2021 Legislative Session.



Workshop #1: Getting Ready for the Legislative Session

Scope: Are you ready to take action on climate change? Collaborate with frontline communities to reduce pollution? Work for a just transition from an oil-based economy to one based on equity and clean energy? Join the Sierra Club and partners for the first session in a series of discussions on how to hold our state leaders accountable to the people. You will learn how to be a citizen lobbyist and how to contact your senators and representatives to work for a cleaner and more just Texas.

This event is free, but we would appreciate donations as we get ready for the session. As always, thank you for your continued support and commitment to creating a healthy and equitable future for Texas!

Recording: Click here

Slides: Click here


Workshop #2: Understanding the Texas State Budget and the Legislative Process

Scope: There is only one bill that must pass in our state's legislature - the budget bill. Because of that, a huge amount of power is exerted to influence the final bill. From education to healthcare to environmental protection and hundreds of other areas that are crucial to our well being, the state budget is an enormous undertaking for our part-time state lawmakers. That doesn't mean everyone acts in your best interest. This is especially true for low-income communities, Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color. The second legislative workshop includes:

  • Welcome and encourage new voices and perspectives, especially from communities disproportionately impacted by pollution.
  • Dive deeper into the legislative process.
  • Learn the fundamentals of the state budget, its process and outlook, from Eva deLuna Castro of Every Texan.
  • Highlight environmental justice priority issues, such as TCEQ permits, pollution monitoring, and enforcement, and how they are affected by the budget process along with other important areas like the Railroad Commission and parks and wildlife funding.

Severe budget cuts are expected at a time when Texas desperately needs to reinforce funding for pollution monitoring and enforcement because pollution increases the risk of severe COVID cases, which are still on the rise!

Recording: Click here (password: txlege#2)

Slides: Main presentation slides and Eva DeLuna Castro's slides on the budget


Workshop #3: Who Holds Power at the Texas Capitol?

Scope: Power concedes nothing without a demand. Frederick Douglass went on to describe that in order to win, one must first be clear on what change you seek and who is preventing that change from happening. The same can be said for climate justice and the Texas Legislature. As we try to influence decision-makers operating in complex, hard-to-access bureaucratic processes, deep-pocketed fossil fuel industry associations spend vast amounts of money to deploy their lobbyists to work a system they know well and to ensure your legislators do their bidding.

If we want to win sweeping and bold change on climate justice, we must know where and when to apply strategic pressure. In that spirit, Sierra Club, Public Citizen, and many other allies invite you to learn more about who really holds power and makes decisions on the critical environmental, climate, and social justice issues being discussed at the Capitol. Join us for part three in our legislative activist training series.

Recording: Click here (password: txlege#3)

Slides: Click here


Workshop #4: Power mapping your legislators

Scope: Continuing our discussion of the lay of the legislative land and where we expect environmental and climate bills to be debated, we invite you to keep the conversation going and explore strategies for success in the Pink Dome. For folx concerned about the climate and environment, success in the Texas Legislature has often meant stopping the bad, the ugly, and downright horrific attacks on our health and democracy.

Learn what it takes to organize across networks to mobilize targeted pressure in opposition to bad legislation like anti-protest bills, cuts to health safeguards, and rollbacks of local control. This event is organized by the Sierra Club, Texas Campaign for the Environment, Public Citizen, and many other allies.

Recording: Click here.

Slides: Click here.


Workshop #5: Mobilizing for Power

Scope: Less than a month after the unprecedented winter storm disaster, thousands of Texans still lack water and safe housing. While communities continue to organize mutual aid and care for those still struggling, the fossil fuel industry and their well-financed friends in the Texas Legislature are moving fast to cast blame and dodge accountability. Big fossil fuel corporations and friendly regulators like Railroad Commissioner Christi Craddick (who profits off the same industries she is tasked with regulating) are even saying we should use our taxpayer dollars (not oil & gas profits) to pay for any costs for making our energy system more resilient.

Bills are being filed at lightning speed before the filing deadline of March 12. Now is the time for us to act. No matter the complex web of storm-related legislation, one thing we know for certain is that a more resilient energy system must include more resilient homes, buildings, and local clean energy. In this workshop we will:

  • Continue our focus on the need to expand access and funding for energy conservation and equitable local energy solutions

  • Provide a brief overview on the status of the Texas Legislature’s response to the winter storm 

  • Outline clear tactics and strategies to use to best advocate and organize constituent pressure targeting specific House and Senate committees that are taking up critical climate justice legislation

  • Identify the legislators and key staff members working on these issues

  • Explore best practices for using social media to demonstrate constituent attention on an issue

  • Establish general timelines we expect issues to be taken up as well as some rapid response protocols to help us mobilize on very short notice

  • Craft talking points to support your organizing, visibility tactics like letters to your local newspaper, and efforts to get your friends and family involved

Recording: Click here

Slides: Click here (for Blackout bills overview click here)


Workshop #6: Communication Strategies and Tactics for Testimony and Lobbying

Scope: By this time, committee hearings will be happening and the pace of the work will have picked up significantly. This will be a working meeting for folks who have been involved in legislative outreach and advocacy to check in, highlight what is working, identify problem areas, and workshop solutions alongside your peers. We’ll also provide updates on bills we’re tracking and timelines for potential committee hearings. Testifying or submitting comments will be easier and more effective with fact sheets and talking points, both of which we’ll walk you through in the workshop.

Recording: Click here (passcode txlege#6)

Slides: Click here


Workshop #7: Turning your legislative activism into sustainable long term climate justice organizing

Scope: This will be our final workshop and will focus on supporting participants to connect with other activists and networks across the state. As the legislative session unfolds, we will continue to see the clear need for ongoing, year-round organizing for climate justice in all corners of Texas. This will be a chance to share more information about organizations you are part of, upcoming meetings or events, and connect with a range of volunteer opportunities that extend beyond the Texas Legislature.

Of course, the session will still be in high gear and we’ll provide updates on critical bills plus identify any further support needed on the ground. We will also give our best approximation of when to expect a special session and how we can reconvene at that time to engage on critical redistricting issues.

Recording: Click here (passcode: txlege#7); interview segment 1 and interview segment 2

Slides: Click here

About the Workshops

Who should participate?

Activists/volunteers in Texas who want to:

  • Build grassroots power to win on climate and environmental justice issues.

  • Connect and network with like-minded activists in their state legislative districts and across Texas.

  • Learn about the legislative process.

  • Learn or sharpen skills for lobbying decision-makers.

  • Engage in persuasive writing/speaking in the form of letters, phone calls or public testimony at the legislature.

  • Research voting records and campaign contributions of state legislators.

  • Research policy and policy positions of state legislators.

  • No prior knowledge or experience required.

Series objectives

  • Convene participant-centered learning spaces that facilitate relationship building, incorporate a range of pedagogies and interactive exercises, and create opportunities for activists to develop & share skills as a cohort of learners.
  • Create a state-and-local network of volunteer climate justice organizers, community activists, and staff who are all focused on the 2021 Texas legislative session.
  • Identify and engage specific volunteer leaders in key legislative districts so that they can develop relationships with their legislators and their staff.
  • Emphasize building power to win: to be successful at the Capitol, in our local communities and on statewide regulatory issues, we must deepen and expand the collective base of climate and environmental justice activists in Texas.
  • Support activists in developing in-district lobbying teams to organize locally on priority bills relating to climate and environmental justice.