By Susan Secord, Boulder chapter
Grassroots outreach has been a challenge this year for our CCL chapters! In previous years, our volunteers built local support for CCL in many ways — tabling at events, giving public presentations, and hosting film screenings, socials and other get-togethers. In 2019, Colorado CCL had 173 outreach events. During the pandemic we’ve had to let go of most of those activities, but public presentations via Zoom have remained a powerful way to continue our grassroots outreach. In 2020, we had 48 outreach events — of which 40 were presentations. While many of those presentations were delivered by our most experienced Colorado CCL presenters, some were by newly-trained CCLers.
The Metro Denver CCL Presenters Group (one of CO CCL’s Cross-Chapter teams) has been playing an important role in developing new presenters and schedulers. Co-led by Greg Winchell (Denver) and Julia Moravscvik (Boulder), the group includes members from Metro Denver area chapters as well as from Boulder and Ft. Collins. Friendly and supportive, the group meets on the 4th Thursday of every month from 7-8:15 P.M.
Greg says, “We try to run the group socratically. Julia and I just ask questions of our members to draw out their interests, hobbies, connections to other groups, and so on. By finding out who they are, we can help them find their voice. Their voice may be that of a scheduler, or of a presenter.” That being the goal, Greg adds, “Logistics, however, demand that everyone starts out as a scheduler because you can’t deliver a presentation without first finding an audience. We start by identifying prospective groups, figuring out how to approach them, coming up with goals, having follow-through – all the while writing and rehearsing one’s presentation.”
One of the group’s biggest successes this past year was by Alvin Knott, a retired tax attorney. They encouraged him to draw on his tax background and to contact local attorney groups, such as the Colorado Bar Association. Through that connection, Alvin found an audience in the Natural Resources and Energy Section of the Bar Association. Building on that, Alvin also presented to a CU Law class. As a new presenter, Alvin says, “The group provided invaluable assistance: everything from how to use PowerPoint and where to place lighting for Zoom to how to most effectively present the science, the policy problem, the EICDA, and the corporate support for carbon pricing — all within an hour."
The group also created a Meetup Group called Climate Conversations. Originally, it was envisioned to be a venue for their presenters to find an audience. They found, however, that it takes a while to build this, so they are currently using the Meetup Group as a presenters’ “sandbox.” Greg says, “It’s a safe place where developing presenters can experiment and test their ideas in front of other CCL members, as well as the wider public.” And slowly, they are building an audience through Meetup.
As vaccination rates rise and the country cautiously begins to open up, we all look forward to getting back out into our communities and returning to all forms of grassroots outreach. Meanwhile, presentations will continue to be one very important component of our outreach, both online and in-person, and the Metro Denver Presenters Group provides strong support to volunteers who want to get started.
Take Action: New to CCL presenting? Join the Metro Denver Presenters Group by contacting Greg Winchell.