ADVOCACY TOOLS

Thank you for your interest in getting involved with Back from the Brink! These advocacy tools are designed to help make your organizing efforts as easy as possible. If you have any questions, run into any roadblocks, or have suggestions for how to improve these tools, please contact us. (Note: If you are pursuing a municipal resolution or a Back from the Brink endorsement from a mayor, please consider also asking your mayor to join Mayors for Peace.)

Acting Locally to Prevent Nuclear War:
A Back from the Brink Supporter Toolkit

 Download a pdf of this toolkit created by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Today, the threat of nuclear war is greater than it has been in decades. The catastrophic risks are real and urgent—threatening our communities, our environment, and the very future of human civilization. Dangerous policies remain in place that heighten these risks, diplomacy has been sidelined for too long, and US decisionmakers plan to spend up to $2 trillion over the next few decades on new nuclear bombs, missiles, submarines, and other instruments for waging nuclear war and a global arms race. And the only way to eliminate these risks and truly prevent a nuclear war is to abolish nuclear weapons.

Back from the Brink: The Call to Prevent Nuclear War is a national grassroots movement rooted in the belief that the loud, powerful demand for change must come from the ground up. It’s a way for any concerned, engaged person to get involved and have an impact in their community, and connect with others around the country doing the same advocacy, organizing, and public education work. Folks just like you are testifying in town halls, helping pass resolutions, meeting with their members of Congress and local and state officials, working with community groups, and so much more. They are making the important contrast between federal spending on nuclear weapons and much-needed investments in families, communities, and social, economic, and racial justice programs.

This toolkit lays out a number of simple ways you can get involved:

You don’t have to be an expert and it doesn’t have to take much of your time. That’s up to you. And we are here to help, to connect you with others, offer you more tools and resources, and suggest timely actions you can take.

EDUCATE AND ADVOCATE ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Many of us spend a lot of time connecting with family, friends, colleagues, elected officials, and even strangers via social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. There are many ways to use your social media presence to spread the word about the dangers of nuclear weapons—and motivate others to take action.

We encourage you to follow and promote Back from the Brink on one or more social media channels.

Facebook: Back from the Brink: The Call to Prevent Nuclear War
Twitter: @BackFromBrink
Instagram: @BackFromBrink

See below for some sample posts you can share, and don’t forget to tag us! Social media is also a great way to express your views as a constituent directly to your local and state elected officials, as well as your members of Congress. Social media “handles” for decisionmakers can often be found easily on their legislative website.

Sample Tweet The threat of #nuclearwar is urgent and growing—risking our communities, environment, and the very future of civilization. Fortunately, @BackfromBrink is building a safer and more just world free from these risks. Learn more and join the #BftB campaign: https://youtu.be/fk22jxem6ik

Sample Facebook post The threat of nuclear war is real and urgent, yet the United States plans to spend billions on new, destabilizing nuclear weapons while critical social, economic, and environmental programs are underfunded. Back from the Brink is sounding the alarm and proposing simple solutions for a safer, more just world. Get involved at preventnuclearwar.org. https://youtu.be/fk22jxem6ik

URGE LOCAL AND STATE ELECTED OFFICIALS TO ENDORSE THE CAMPAIGN
Central to Back from the Brink is the belief that nuclear weapons matter to people at the local level. We have the power to encourage our local and state officials to push for policies that will keep us all safe from the consequences of nuclear weapons. Your mayor, city councilors, state senators and representatives—they all need to hear from you.

Email your local elected officials using our sample language as a guide. You can find their contact information at www.usa.gov/elected-officials or your city, town, or county’s website. Identifying and reaching out directly to your elected officials’ key staff people can often lead to success.

Don’t forget to follow up. If you don’t get a response within two weeks, contact them again. It might take some persistence to get your message heard. If emailing doesn’t seem to be working, try calling or mailing a letter.

Amplify your voice by building a team. If your elected officials hear a similar message from a group of people, they may be more receptive. Who else in your community can you recruit? Can you organize a meeting with local officials?

SPREAD THE WORD
How information is shared and exchanged is changing rapidly, both globally and within communities. Traditional media outlets, such as your local newspapers (daily, weekly, or alternative) and local radio stations and public radio affiliates, are still important vehicles to raise public awareness, share information, and shape public attitudes.

Write a letter to the editor (LTE). LTEs to your local or regional newspaper are an effective and easy way to reach a large audience about nuclear weapons abolition. They can help you reach more activists in your area who would be willing to join your movement and bring the issue to the attention of your elected officials.

Check out the UCS guide Writing an Effective Letter to the Editor for some helpful tips. And, for ideas about how to make the case t hat nuclear weapons are important to your specific community, email us at info@preventnuclearwar.org.

Engage with other content providers. Local podcasts, blog sites, or community listservs can also be effective platforms for advocacy. We can help identify those local outlets and provide background and contact information.

WORK WITH OTHERS IN YOUR COMMUNITY
The nuclear weapons abolition movement is intertwined with other justice movements because communities of color bear the disproportionate social, environmental, and health burdens associated with the creation, testing, and use of nuclear weapons. The astronomical sums currently being spent to create new weapons instead of addressing the pressing needs of our communities is further evidence of in- justice. So while we confront the ever-present threat of nuclear annihilation, we must also work together to address these other intersecting problems.

Build and strengthen relationships with local groups working on critical social issues. We encourage you to connect with other groups early in your efforts, and to be creative in how you connect nuclear weapons to the issues they care about.

For example, you could make the link between police brutality in your city and militarism at the federal and international levels. Or you could link nuclear weapons to climate justice by arguing how, instead of investing billions in nuclear weapons that threaten communities and do not make us safer, we could invest these funds in initiatives that strengthen communities and address climate change, such as expanding clean energy infrastructure or electrifying public transportation. It is also important for those of us committed to social justice to “show up” for other communities in myriad ways: by attending their meetings, offering them opportunities to bring their issues to your networks, and helping to advocate when these issues come before local and state government.

Ask groups to officially endorse Back from the Brink. More than 350 already have—who can you ask? Your faith community, an advocacy group, or a university department are just some examples of local groups who might be interested. Organizations can endorse Back from the Brink via our website here and see our sample email language to guide you. Try growing your existing relationships and reaching out to new groups to forge lasting, mutually beneficial partnerships.

PASS A RESOLUTION IN YOUR LOCAL GOVERNMENT
The cornerstone of the Back from the Brink campaign is the municipal resolutions passed in cities and towns throughout the United States by our distributed network of organizers. More than 50 municipalities and states have passed Back from the Brink resolutions or proclamations already, with many more in progress. And we need your help to keep the momentum going.

Learn the ins and outs of your local government. Who are the elected officials that represent you? What is the process for passing a resolution or proclamation? Check out Back from the Brink’s Guide to Resolutions and Proclamations for more information on how to pass a local resolution.

Start organizing! Work with others in your community to draft a resolution, gather support, and pass it into law. As always, we encourage you to reach out to us for support.

Contact us at info@preventnuclearwar.org with questions about the campaign or to get advice on how to maximize the impact of your advocacy and community organizing.

Guide to Resolutions and Proclamations

(Click here to download a pdf of this guide.)

Securing support for “Back from the Brink: The Call to Prevent Nuclear War” from organizations, elected officials and legislative bodies, is a critical way to demonstrate broad and politically influential support across the country for the initiative and the five fundamental changes in US nuclear weapons policy for which we are advocating. This document offers some suggestions and best practices for how to pursue these efforts effectively.

Establish Goals and Desired Outcomes

Determine which elected official or municipal legislative body (such as a town or city council or county board) that you would like to engage. If possible start close to home, so that you begin the process with the inherent power that you have as a constituent. If you want to approach a legislative body, familiarize yourself with the terminology for its prior statements of support on other issues. Many municipalities refer to such statements as resolutions, but others refer to them as memorials, or proclamations, or statements included in their administrative record.

A sample resolution and request for support can be found here which you can customize for your municipality. You may wish to include “whereas” statements about your municipality’s history related to nuclear disarmament, the health and environmental impact of a nuclear weapons-related facility if there’s one nearby, or the staggering nuclear weapons-related costs to taxpayers in your municipality (this guide may help.) Thoughtful whereas statements that highlight the intersections between nuclear weapons and other issues – such as climate change or economic, environmental, and racial justice – can strengthen your resolution and help you build a diverse coalition of support. The only requirement for the resolution to be considered part of the Back from the Brink initiative is that it includes support for all five points in our policy platform. We also strongly recommend language indicating that the municipality will send a copy of the resolution to that area’s congressional delegation and the President (per our sample resolution.)

Our sample resolution includes an optional “let it be resolved” calling on the United States to embrace the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW.) Municipalities that include this statement in their resolution will be included in the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons’ Cities Appeal, which is a movement to gain support for the TPNW from cities throughout the world that was inspired by Back from the Brink.

Working with Allies/Building a Coalition

Identify and reach out to your existing partner groups and other community leaders and seek their involvement and ideas BEFORE approaching the elected officials that you want to work with you on this effort.

1. Ask organizations in your area to endorse Back from the Brink. Peace, faith, health, environmental, policy and justice groups are natural allies, but you may want to reach out to other local civic organizations as well. A sample request for support is on our website here.

2. Review the list of organizations who have endorsed Back from the Brink on our website here. Many have chapters or members throughout the country, possibly near you, who could join you in your efforts.

3. Contact Back from the Brink organizers at info@preventnuclearwar.org and we will help connect you to others in your area.

Throughout this process, we urge you to build and strengthen relationships with groups in your community working on an array of critical social issues, especially racial justice. We who work for peace and justice cannot be silent about systemic racism. We must work together to dismantle systems of oppression in the U.S., from our original sin of racism to the ever present threat of nuclear annihilation. We hope that the relationships that you build while organizing for Back from the Brink will be lasting and mutually beneficial for your community.

Learn the Local Process and Rules

Every legislative body has different rules for how they operate, when and what types of issues can be considered, filing deadlines, legal vetting, etc. Research these rules and talk to the appropriate staff members, such as city clerks, staff for your representative, or the office of legislative counsel in a state legislature. In particular, research the procedures for resolutions or proclamations, as those kinds of items may have a different process than legislation.

If you have a relationship with a representative on the legislative body from which you’re seeking support, contact that person and ask for his or her advice on introducing a Back from the Brink resolution. Ask your local partners or allied groups if they have helpful relationships or experience with that legislative body and if so, if they have recommendations on how to proceed or if they would make an introduction to any officials who have championed their efforts. Research the legislative body and prospective resolution sponsors. How have these kinds of initiatives been managed in the past? Which elected official/s would be most likely to sponsor or introduce a Back from the Brink resolution?

Be persistent and make sure to follow up if your queries go unanswered for more than a week or two. Don’t assume that a lack of response indicates an unwillingness to consider a resolution, as it may simply be that the person to whom you’ve reached out is busy. If it appears that getting a resolution adopted by a legislative body is unlikely, you may want to approach a community leader such as a Mayor, Council President, or your own local representative, and ask if that person will endorse Back from the Brink

If an elected official agrees to sponsor your resolution, consult with them to make sure you know the date and time the resolution will be heard in the legislative body including any committee hearings. They may also have helpful advice on which elected officials need extra attention from you, such as calls or a meeting, in order to gain a supportive vote. Ask your allies and partners to submit letters of support and to attend and testify at meetings where the resolution will be up for a vote. Learn the rules for public testimony, such as when the testimony is heard (at the beginning of the meeting or just prior to the resolution vote), how community members sign up to speak, and importantly, how much time each community member will be allotted for public testimony. Share information on social media to educate your community, and tag elected officials in your posts to put pressure on them to support the resolution.

Talk to Groups Who Have Experience Doing This

Reach out to groups who’ve helped conceive and manage successful Back from the Brink efforts and can share lessons learned and things to avoid. One lesson we’ve learned is that while the resolution processes have commonalities, each has also been a little different in its own way. Some have required months of effort and individual meetings with multiple legislators, while other processes were more simple and streamlined. We can help you get started, connect you with groups who have experience with Back from the Brink resolutions, and provide support all along the way – just contact us at info@preventnuclearwar.org.

Share Your Progress

Be sure to let us know when your Back from the Brink resolution has been introduced, when it is up for a vote, and the results of the vote so that we can help support you and amplify your success. Take photos during and after relevant meetings, post them on social media (tag us on Facebook @preventnuclearwar, Twitter @backfrombrink, and Instagram @backfrombrink) and send photos to us so we can share them too. Write a press release or summary of your experience and sent that to us to share as well. If your resolution also included support for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, remember to contact ICAN at info@icanw.org so that they can add it to their Cities Appeal campaign. Finally, remember to thank the elected officials who championed your resolution and the legislative body that adopted it.

Help Build the Movement

Once you’ve had time to celebrate and rest, consider approaching another nearby town or city. Each Back from the Brink success inspires others and helps build our movement for a safer, nuclear weapons free world. Consider scheduling a visit with your Congressional representative to let him or her know about the growing support in your community for our five-point policy platform. Some of these policies are currently represented in legislation before Congress.

 

Sample Request for Endorsement

 

Municipality or Elected Official

(Click here to download a pdf of this letter and click here to download an editable MS Word document of this letter.)

Dear ________________________

I’m writing as a constituent to ask you to join many municipalities and organizations in endorsing Back from the Brink: Call to Prevent Nuclear War, a simple, 5-point set of common sense, practical policy solutions (see below) that would greatly reduce the real and immediate risks posed by nuclear weapons and the chances that they will ever again be used.

Drafted by two prominent national organizations, the Union of Concerned Scientists and Physicians for Social Responsibility, the purpose of Back from the Brink is to build broad, bi-partisan public and congressional support for fundamental changes in U.S nuclear weapons policy.

As the head of (town/city/elected official), endorsing the Back from the Brink is a simple way to lend your voice and stature on an issue that affects every one of your constituents and all of humanity.

This is not a partisan issue. This matters to me, my family and our community, regardless of political affiliation. As (title of office), you have a solemn duty to do what you can to keep your constituents safe – and nuclear weapons should be no exception. In that regard we hope that you will not only endorse Back from the Brink but also issue a public statement about your endorsement to our local/state media, as well as inform our congressional delegation of your support.

Today, nine nations possess nearly 14,000 nuclear weapons, most of which are far more destructive than those that killed over 100,000 people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan in 1945. The detonation of even a small number of these weapons could have catastrophic global consequences.

And the threat of nuclear war is growing. Global tensions are on the rise and, in our own country, there are plans to rebuild the entire U.S. nuclear arsenal at the staggering cost of $1.7 trillion over the next three decades. This includes plans to build more “usable” nuclear weapons for nuclear war fighting, increasing the chance that these weapons could be used. U.S taxpayers already spend some $2 million every hour of every day maintaining the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

Nuclear weapons don’t make us safer, and the enormous sum of money we spend to build and maintain them makes it more difficult to fund other critical programs for our cities and towns, such as responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and related unemployment, public housing & education, environmental protection, anti-poverty programs, rural internet access, combating the opioid epidemic, and more.

Your endorsement of Back from the Brink is a simple step you can take that will send a powerful signal to members of our congressional delegation and other leaders in Washington that it’s time for a fundamental shift away from thinking of nuclear weapons as instruments of security; instead we must start moving toward a world free of them. Please go to the following link to formally endorse the Back from the Brink campaign – preventnuclearwar.org/endorse.

More information can be found at preventnuclearwar.org. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

_________________________________________________________

Back from the Brink: The Call to Prevent Nuclear War

We call on the United States to lead a global effort to prevent nuclear war by:

*actively pursuing a verifiable agreement among nuclear armed states to eliminate their nuclear arsenals;
*renouncing the option of using nuclear weapons first;
*ending the sole, unchecked authority of any president to launch a nuclear attack;
*taking U.S. nuclear weapons off hair-trigger alert; and
*cancelling the plan to replace its entire arsenal with enhanced weapons.

Organization

(Click here to download a pdf of this letter and click here to download an editable MS Word document of this letter.)

Dear ________________________:

I’m writing to ask ORGANIZATION to endorse an important and exciting grassroots campaign called Back from the Brink: The Call to Prevent Nuclear War.

To date, over 350 health, environmental, academic, peace, faith, and justice organizations have endorsed Back from the Brink, and numerous U.S. municipalities and states have adopted resolutions supporting its policy solutions. A full list of endorsements to date is here https://www.preventnuclearwar.org/whos-on-board.

The reason this campaign is growing is simple–and terrifying. The threat of nuclear war is greater today than ever before. The U.S. is planning to replace our entire nuclear arsenal with enhanced weapons, and has revised its nuclear policy to make it easier to launch a nuclear weapon, even in response to a non-nuclear strike. These weapons do not keep us safe; they put us at greater risk and threaten all that we hold dear.

In addition, the enormous sum of money we spend to build and maintain nuclear weapons diverts resources away from our communities at a time when so many people are struggling. U.S taxpayers already spend some $2 million every hour of every day maintaining the U.S. nuclear arsenal, and the U.S. plans to rebuild its nuclear arsenal at the staggering cost of $1.7 trillion over the next three decades. No moral society should prioritize new, humanity-destroying weapons over the needs of its citizens.

Nuclear weapons intersect tragically with the most critical issues of our time. For example, climate change is already causing resource scarcity that leads to forced migration, political instability, and increased conflict, making the use of nuclear weapons more likely. Nuclear weapons are intrinsically linked to environmental and racial justice, from the colonial aspects of uranium mining on indigenous land, to radiation exposure suffered by workers and communities near nuclear production, waste, and testing sites. And, if we build and test new nuclear weapons, we will cause more harm to the environment and vulnerable communities. Humanity cannot afford to get this wrong.

Back from the Brink: The Call to Prevent Nuclear War

We call on the United States to lead a global effort to prevent nuclear war by:

*actively pursuing a verifiable agreement among nuclear armed states to eliminate their nuclear arsenals;
*renouncing the option of using nuclear weapons first;
*ending the sole, unchecked authority of any president to launch a nuclear attack;
*taking U.S. nuclear weapons off hair-trigger alert; and
*cancelling the plan to replace its entire arsenal with enhanced weapons.

Several of these policy proposals are already represented in current legislation before Congress, but grassroots support is critical to building the political will to move them forward.

Visit preventnuclearwar.org/endorse to endorse the Back from the Brink campaign and we’ll keep you informed of further opportunities to take action. Together, we can create a safer, healthier, and more just world.

Sincerely,

_________________________________________________________

 

Sample Back from the Brink
Resolution/Proclamation

(Click here to download a pdf of this sample resolution, and click here to download an editable MS Word document of this resolution.)

Whereas nine nations collectively have approximately 14,000 nuclear weapons in their arsenals, most of which are far more destructive than those that killed hundreds of thousands of people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, in 1945;

Whereas the detonation of even a small number of these weapons could have catastrophic human and environmental consequences that could affect everyone on the planet;

Whereas the United States maintains several hundred nuclear missiles in underground silos on hair- trigger alert, capable of being launched within minutes after a presidential order, which greatly increases the risk of an accidental, mistaken or unauthorized launch;

Whereas the United States continues to reserve the right to use nuclear weapons first, which reduces the threshold for nuclear use and makes a nuclear war more likely;

Whereas the U.S. president has the sole and unchecked authority to order the use of nuclear weapons;

Whereas the climate crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic, and recent racial justice uprisings have highlighted the need for greater investment in our healthcare system and our communities; 

Whereas over the next 30 years, the United States plans to spend an estimated $1.7 trillion to replace its entire nuclear arsenal and the bombers, missiles and submarines that deliver them with more capable, more usable versions;

Whereas taxpayers spend over $2 million every hour of every day to maintain the U.S. nuclear arsenal;

Whereas a grassroots movement called “Back from the Brink: The Call to Prevent Nuclear War” has been endorsed by over 350 health, environmental, academic, peace, faith, and justice organizations and has resulted in resolutions approved by numerous municipalities, including the cities of Los Angeles, Baltimore, Salt Lake City, and Washington DC, as well as the states of California and Oregon;

Whereas the United States, as well as Britain, China, France and Russia, are obligated under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to take concrete steps toward eliminating their nuclear arsenals;

Whereas in July 2017, 122 nations approved the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which entered into force on January 22, 2021 making it illegal under international law to develop, test, produce, manufacture, or otherwise acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices;

Therefore, (name of city or town) calls on the United States to lead a global effort to prevent nuclear war by:

  • actively pursuing a verifiable agreement among nuclear-armed states to eliminate their nuclear arsenals;
  • renouncing the option of using nuclear weapons first;
  • ending the sole, unchecked authority of any president to launch a nuclear attack;
  • taking U.S. nuclear weapons off hair-trigger alert; and
  • cancelling the plan to replace its entire arsenal with enhanced weapons.

And be it further resolved that (name of city or town) calls on the United States to embrace the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

And be it further resolved that a copy of this resolution will be sent to (names of U.S. Representatives and Senators) and President Joseph R. Biden.

Organizing Materials

Use the interactive map below to see where Back from the Brink resolutions have been adopted and are under consideration, and to find active organizations (blue houses) in your area. To view the map key, click the small square with the arrow in the upper left corner. If there is no one in your area, feel free to email info@preventnuclearwar.org and we’ll help you get started! Below the map are additional materials that may be useful for your Back from the Brink organizing efforts:

Acting Locally to Prevent Nuclear War: A Back from the Brink Supporter Toolkit by the Union of Concerned Scientists

Back from the Brink PowerPoint and accompanying script that can be downloaded and customized to help organize your community

Nuclear Weapons Community Cost Program – project of Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles to calculate how much your community spends in tax dollars on nuclear weapons programs

Writing Op-Eds that Make a Difference – guide from Indivisible and The Op-Ed project

Video and Resources from “Ending Nuclear Weapons Before They End Us: Opportunities Under the Biden Administration to Take Action” virtual policy briefing and interactive workshops held on March 4, 2021, co-sponsored by Back from the Brink and the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN)

Video of Back from the Brink webinar “Organizing to Prevent Nuclear War in the Current Moment” featuring Dr. Vincent Intondi September 2020

Video of Back from the Brink webinar “Organizing Locally to Prevent Nuclear War” September 2019

 

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