Since we exist, we have been very much involved in international networks and campaigns. Almost all our actions and surely all our campaigns were embedded in some international framework. We also invested a lot on building platforms and networks.1 This way, we met a lot of groups and organizations – mostly in Europe but also quite a few globally. Then we realized something. Our political choice to invest in active internationalism was being interpreted as our logistical / financial capability to do so. That impression is wrong.
Climáximo is a virtually zero-budget collective with no staff, no offices and no institutional support. (We are not even a registered association.)
In this short note, we want to give you a glimpse of our current state of organizational capacity and who is doing the work. This is not statistics. It is not comprehensive. It’s just a snapshot to give you an idea.
We are group of around 30-50 people, half of which live outside of the municipality of Lisbon. The person checking our emails (and answers always on the same day) is on unemployment benefits. The responsible for our legal support is a precarious teacher. The person organizing the annual National Encounter for Climate Justice is a precarious hospitality sector worker. The responsible for our international contacts is a student. The person taking care of the little money we have is a full-time white-collar worker and a full-time mother. The person taking care of our servers and websites works full-time on false green receipts. The person responsible for our internal communications infrastructure is unemployed. The digital security person is full-time office worker. The person who updates our website is a teacher on a short-term part-time contract. The responsible for internal processes is a precarious administrative worker. Our introductory meetings are organized by a student. We have a precarious group of precarious people updating our social media accounts; the responsible being an unemployed father of two. More people take on temporary roles that are compatible with their (productive or reproductive) work schedules. We don’t have a volunteers’ coordinator, because we all are that: we have a buddy system for new members. We don’t print banners, we paint them. Our meetings take place in the evening, after normal working hours, although we realize that less and less people have “normal” working hours nowadays. Our materials (banners, posters, printouts, sound system, and more stuff) are distributed among activists’ homes.2
Sometimes some of our projects and actions get some funding through some other association. These help us cover major expenses like coaches or booklet printouts. Some campaigns have their own financial strategies and sometimes get short-term funding for their activity plans, but of course Climáximo – being an informal collective – doesn’t have direct access to that money. In all cases, we try to put the budgets visible on all relevant websites.
To summarize, we are precarious folks (when we are not unemployed).
This is not to pretend we are a diverse group. Nor do we aim at covering up our compound privileges by listing our identities in a specific way. We do have an inclusion problem, as many organizations have; and we are working on it. Finally, we want to acknowledge that many social movements in Portugal are as precarious as we are, so we are not showing ourselves off as something unique.3
But it is to tell you the following. If one of us participate in an international gathering, that’s because that person took time off work and we all collected money among us to support the travel expenses. If you saw a pamphlet of Climáximo, we paid for those printouts from our pockets. If you donate us via Open Collective, you are probably contributing to basic stuff like buying batteries for megaphones or markers for workshops.
We know that our financial precariousness is a problem of resilience. We also know that the climate revolution will be crowd-funded and won’t have a budget breakdown in a spreadsheet.
1 Some examples of what we helped build are the Climate Justice Action network, the By 2020 We Rise Up campaign, the International Ecosocialist Encounters and the Glasgow Agreement. Check the International page for more connections.
2 Just to repeat: this is a snapshot; most of these roles are rotational, so in a couple of months the above paragraph could be quite different.
3 Some of us also have first-hand experience about what “precarious” means when we leave our context. Virtually all social movements in the Global South are “precarious” not only in the sense of financial insecurity but also in the sense of political, legal and physical risks. Climáximo’s current situation is incomparably well off, stable and safe.