In late 2016 the Standing Rock Sioux and their allies sought support in their resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) by requesting that people boycott banks that are funding DAPL. The movement (#DefundDAPL) has continued to grow as many individuals and groups began to close their accounts in Chase and other financial institutions that invest in DAPL and other fossil fuel infrastructure projects. Mazaska Talks and 350 Seattle led the way and successfully persuaded the City of Seattle to commit to divesting from fossil fuel funders.

It has become increasingly clear that the steps necessary to move personal and institutional finances are often confusing and complex. 350 Austin’s BDS (Boycott/Divest/Shame) Team realized that a “How To” guide was needed and thus put together the Personal Divestment Toolkit to assist people in the transition. The Toolkit also provides information on how to begin the process of divesting one’s investment portfolio (e.g., stocks, bonds, 401k).

We are now launching the next phase of the Austin Divest! campaign as we expand our assistance in the strategies of boycotts and divestment to small businesses, civic organizations, churches, and other groups.

The overarching goal of 350 Austin’s BDS Team is to undermine targeted financial institutions by impacting their bottom line and exposing their complicity in the harm being done by the fossil fuel industry (FFI). By encouraging the use of credit unions instead of banks whenever possible, the campaign also moves us forward in our goal of helping to build a more equitable, low-carbon economy. Local banking is an important piece of that goal.

350 Austin has joined 350 Seattle to promote a growing national network of like-minded organizations to push bank boycotting to a new and higher level of attention and impact. This campaign is also in the early stages, but we expect national actions in the Fall of 2017.

To learn how you can help in our endeavor to make Austin a hub of divestment activity, complete the Volunteer Form, check the “Divestment” box, and specify your interest in BDS in the freeform text section. We need a rich diversity of talents and abilities to be successful.