I was lucky enough to find myself at a meeting with the organizers from 350.org a few weeks ago (yes, including Bill McKibben himself, who is delightfully nerdy and very approachable) and as these young people introduced themselves and their work, I couldn’t help but notice that their project, 350.org, illustrates exactly what we’re talking about here in the Small Infinity Project.

350.org, you may remember, sponsored a National Day of Action last October, encouraging people all over the world to plan rallies, gather together, and take photographs around the theme of the number 350 (representing 350 parts per million carbon dioxide, the atmospheric concentration that most climate scientists agree is the upper bound for avoiding major global temperature increases… we’re already over it).  350.org collects these photos, and together they make a compelling statement that people all over the world want policymakers to act urgently to pass a binding global agreement.

This year, 350.org is sponsoring another day of action on October 10 (10/10/10).  Instead of just rallying, they’re now encouraging communities to plan “Work Parties,” where citizens will get together to get something done.  It was at the planning meeting for the Ann Arbor area work party that I met the 350.org crew, who were in town for the US Social Forum.  These young activists, who each represent and conduct outreach to one of six global regions (“Hi, I represent the Middle East”), stood and described some of the projects that will take place in their regions on 10/10/10: folks in Africa are organizing a tree planting; a group in Malaysia is working on a bike advocacy project.  Here in Ann Arbor, we’re going to try to build 350 raised bed vegetable gardens in one day.

These small projects are worthwhile in themselves; just the act of getting together to work on a project like this strengthens communities intangibly, while also producing tangible results.  But 350.org’s strategy allows people to participate in their own communities, knowing FOR CERTAIN what we all love to hope- that people all over the world are working just as hard as we are, in their own small way.  That knowledge empowers future action, and, communicated to policymakers, drives political change as well.