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“Partnering” by Jean Oelwang

Tangible lessons from 65+ of the world's most remarkable partnerships.


Friends and cofounders of

Phil Aroneanu, Will Bates, Kelly Blynn, May Boeve, Jamie Henn, Bill McKibben, Jeremy Osborn, and Jon Warnow


In 2008, six college friends and one inspired professor turned their shared commitment to environmentalism into creating—and built it into one of the world’s most effective grassroots climate change organizations. 

“I think, at its deepest level, it’s about shared purpose and it’s about what originally drew us together, which is being part of a movement to confront climate change.”

Bill McKibben

“I think the role of sharing stories has always been important and part of the value of working in a network is that you’re connected to so many more people. Somebody will come with a story about the organizer in Iraq and the work that she’s doing, or someone else will have about a new action that’s just been registered and how creative it is. And those kind of stories had a way of making us again reconnect to purpose, to why we were doing the work, so that always helped. And you know, different people brought different things to the table—so, you know, a sense of humor, a sense of care for the group, really good listening skills, sharp focus.”

Bill McKibben

“If you ran into a bump, know that that’s normal and anybody who’s ever worked in partnership has hit a bump and it’s okay to do that and you’ll recover. I think that a more concrete tool to focus on is just being direct and honest about what the issue was, and often, in organizing, you’re working with other people. And so maybe somebody said something that was frustrating, or somebody said something you disagreed with. Sometimes it’s really simple stuff like that can undo partnerships, and don’t let that stuff get in the way. Find the person who you had an issue with and ask them what the issue was about and resolve it.”

Bill McKibben

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