Case Studies


Case Study: Lessons from Two Successful Soda Tax Movements 

Healthy Boulder Kids. Credit: Kyle Pfister, Ninjas for Health

Local soda taxes are policies that work to promote healthy people and communities, and the national grassroots soda tax movement is growing quickly. When sugar sweetened beverages are taxed, people consume less, and the revenue from a local tax is typically used for civic good, including public health, economic development, and education.

Berkeley passed the first such tax in 2014, followed by San Francisco, Oakland, and Albany, California; Boulder, Colorado; Cook County (including Chicago), Illinois; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Learn about inspiring a local movement, managing volunteers, navigating local politics, responding to legal challenges, and more from the Grassroots Change Soda Tax case study.

How One Texas Town Defeated the Oil & Gas Industry

Denton08On November 4, 2014, the people of Denton, Texas voted to ban fracking in their community. The ballot measure was a hard-fought victory for environmental justice and local democracy. Defeated by a grassroots movement, the oil & gas industry responded by undermining the will of the people with statewide preemption.

Today, activists in Denton across the state continue to fight for local control through civil disobedience and advocacy. See our interactive case study on Denton’s grassroots movement and the ongoing battle against preemption.

Seattle’s Paid Sick Days Movement

PSD10Since 2006, 26 cities and states have passed paid sick days protections for workers. In 2011, a strong coalition of grassroots leaders, workers, businesses, and policy makers in Seattle leveraged research, media advocacy, and education to overcome powerful opponents from outside the community.

Seattle’s grassroots movement is a model for grassroots leaders working across public health and civil rights issues, including workers’ health and safety. See our interactive timeline to learn more.

ASB img - Business Week 7-27-87Lessons from the Grassroots Movement for Smokefree Airlines

The grassroots movement for smokefree airline flights is a model for creating deep cultural change on a national (and international) scale. See how grassroots advocates passed the only federal tobacco legislation that was neither supported by nor negotiated with the tobacco industry… and permanently changed society in the process.

The lessons from the Airline Smoking Ban can help build effective movements to address other public health issues. Learn about the key benefits and building blocks of a successful public health movement: Power, Strategy, Leadership, Media, and Patience.


California’s Gun Violence Prevention Movement

Today, 43 states preempt local authority over firearms and ammunition. That means, outside of a handful of states including Massachusetts and California, our safety is in the hands of state and federal politicians who are owned lock, stock, and barrel by the gun lobby.

In states like Florida, cities and counties lack the authority to pass sensible laws governing the sale and use of firearms. The result is that thousands of grassroots gun control supporters and their local elected officials can’t do anything to prevent seemingly endless tragedies.


Residential Fire Sprinklers

Although building codes require fire sprinklers in most multi-family dwellings, residential fires still account for 85 percent of fire deaths in the United States. The majority of one- and two-family homes lack fire sprinklers. Since 1978, however, a grassroots movement has promoted the passage of more than 360 local ordinances mandating sprinklers in all new residential construction, including one- and two-family homes. The passage of state preemption of local authority in this case follows an historic pattern in which impacted industries use preemption as a tool to undermine grassroots public health and safety policy campaigns.

The findings about both the power of grassroots movement building and preserving local authority offer valuable lessons for those working in different countries and on other public health and safety issues.