Coming Clean: The blog of Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune

April 3, 2015


AddUp: Technology + Activism

“Technology is nothing.” So said the man behind some of the most successful and influential technologies of the past three decades. But then Apple founder Steve Jobs elaborated: “What’s important is that you have a faith in people, that they’re basically good and smart, and if you give them tools, they’ll do wonderful things with them.”

I can’t think of a better way to describe a new technology that the Sierra Club has spent the past two years developing and is now ready to share with you. We have done our best to create a tool for good and smart people to do wonderful things. We call it AddUp.

The mission for AddUp is to make activism both more powerful and more personal. When you visit the site, you’ll see a dashboard with one-click access to everything from issues in your own neighborhood to our biggest national campaigns. The more you visit and make your voice heard—whether by signing petitions, tweeting for change, recruiting your friends, or attending a rally—the better AddUp gets at suggesting actions that matter to you. Last but not least, AddUp shows how your activism fits into the bigger picture and adds up to real-world results.
We built AddUp because we believe that Sierra Club activists deserve the best tool possible for doing good work, but that’s not the only reason. We also built it because too much is at stake for us to be anything less than comprehensive in our advocacy. Whether we’re trying to save a remote wilderness or transform the global energy economy, we have to bring everything we’ve got to the fight. Sometimes that means lobbying legislators. Sometimes it means running a creative media campaign. Sometimes it means mounting a legal challenge, thoughtful civil disobedience, or all of the above.
But it always means tapping our most valuable resource: people who believe we should treat the planet with respect and humility.
When the Sierra Club began, our membership comprised 182 men and women, ranging from bankers to bohemians. When they got together (and in those days they could meet in a single room), the one thing they all shared was a belief that at least some of the magnificent Sierra Nevada should be preserved for future generations. They didn’t waste any time doing it, either. In that first year, they managed to stop a bill in Congress that would have slashed the size of Yosemite national park by half.
Today, that same bill would probably sail through the current Congress, which is easily the most hostile to environmental values in my lifetime. Meanwhile, some of the world’s wealthiest corporations are spending hundreds of millions of dollars every year to protect their ability to pollute with no regard for any future beyond their next quarterly earnings report. Our wildlands, our oceans, and even our climate are under an unprecedented assault. No question: We have our work cut out for us.
That’s ok. We’ve been here before, and we know what to do. And when you get down to it, the fundamentals haven’t changed much since 1892, even though the technology has. The Sierra Club is still the sum of its people. If our challenges have grown, so have we—from fewer than 200 people to more than 2 million supporters. And even if we can’t all crowd into one room, tools like AddUp mean that we can still come together and win.

First, though, you have to show up. So get on over to and help us crowdsource the power we need to do wonderful things.


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