In June 2012, 350.org sent out an email to people in the Toronto area, inviting them to volunteer at a Radiohead concert to help the 350 "Climate Roadies" who were touring with the band.
Two days later on June 16th, as the stage was getting set up, the volunteers arrived eager to help out and ready to see the show. However, the unfinished stage collapsed before the show, tragically killing Scott Johnson, a 33-year-old drum technician. (Photo Credit TARA WALTON / TORONTO STAR FILE PHOTO)
The show was obviously cancelled and, unable to discuss climate change with concertgoers, the volunteers were preparing to leave. Just before they dispersed the 350 roadies made the suggestion that they set up a local 350 group, handing them some t-shirts and clipboards to get them started. They set a date to meet, and Toronto350 was born.
The group started small. Our first event was a petition drive on Queen St. on the anniversary of the Kalamazoo oil spill, followed by a movie screening. Over the next few months we established ourselves as a University of Toronto club and decided on our first two campaigns: demanding that U of T divest from fossil fuels, and working to stop tar sands pipelines, starting with Enbridge's "Line9". We ran a few more movie screenings, petition drives and creative actions, and several of the group went down to Washington D.C. for the "Forward on Climate" rally in February 2013.
In the fall of 2013 we hosted our first big event: a screening of the "Do The Math" divestment movie with almost 1,000 attendees. This event opened many doors, and showed us that we could do big things: all it took was dedication and organizing.
Another turning point came in June 2014 when we hosted a candidates' debate in the Trinity-Spadina by-election. This debate had the effect of significantly raising the profile of climate change and pipelines in that election. We discovered that we could wield political power.
In the fall of 2014 we organized a trip for 275 people in 5 coaches to travel to New York City and participate in the People's Climate March. This incredible event generated a massive spurt of energy, pushing the group to expand rapidly. We took on another three campaigns, several of which started to hold their own weekly planning meetings. By the start of 2015, we were seeing as many as 50 people meeting weekly to work together on climate issues, with many more volunteers involved helping us along the way.
The rest is an unwritten story. Join us, and become a part of writing it...