The birth of the Sunrise Movement started with a small grant, a lot of Monster Energy drinks and a little help from the Sierra Club.
Now it's the most talked-about environmental group in Washington.
Whether it can turn the buzz surrounding it into actual change will depend on how much its young leaders have learned from the fizzled Occupy Wall Street movement — and the degree to which the country is ready to embrace its ambitious vision of a wholesale transformation of U.S. society.
Co-founder Evan Weber, 26, thinks that it is.
"We are seeing a lot of hope from our generation in a way that makes me believe we can actually do something really big," he said.
More than that though is Weber's belief in the way the Sunrise Movement is trying to convince Congress to undertake a massive program to fight global warming — in the same way that former President Franklin D. Roosevelt used the New Deal to combat the Great Depression.
"We think to win on climate change we have to be part of a broader movement to [rewrite] what government should be for," he said.
That movement burst into view with a surprise protest Nov. 13 outside the Capitol Hill office of Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the likely next speaker of the House (Climatewire, Nov. 14).
Dyanna Jaye, 26, Sunrise's campaign director, said the rally — which resulted in the arrest of 51 protesters — was one step in a process that began years ago but is poised for a breakthrough. Another Sunrise Movement protest is planned for Dec. 10 in Washington, and organizers hope to surpass the 200-plus activists who showed up the last time.
"We have a very limited window of time to influence the agenda of the next Congress," Jaye said.