By Patrick Robbins
Here at Sane Energy Project, we’ve had a pretty quiet couple of days, you know, nothing big. Except for the premiere of our groundbreaking mapping tool on Saturday, the biggest climate march in history on Sunday, a full day of direct action at #floodwallstreet on Monday and a presentation of the Solutions Grassroots Tour in Brooklyn on Tuesday, you could say it’s been kind of a snore. All joking aside, where do we begin? This was an astonishing, historical couple of days we’ve had. We are so grateful to everyone who came out for any part of it. Check out our facebook page for a compilation of photos and videos of everything. Here’s how it went down, day by day:
SATURDAY: You Are Here. Our new online mapping tool premiered at the Graffiti Church as a part of the People’s Climate Convergence. More than a hundred people showed up at the historic community center. Zephyr Teachout, former gubernatorial candidate and anti-corruption advocate, gave an impassioned speech on why mapmaking is so important–maps tell stories that make sense of our physical environments, and when you control the map, you control the story. Our mission has always been to restore that control to the people, and so we heard from three grassroots activists from impacted New York State communities–Mark Pezzatti, Maura Stephens and Bill Huston–who have been instrumental in helping us build the mapping tool over the last year. And afterward, people were able to demo the map on laptops and tablets. Think about it–more than a hundred people felt strongly enough about this issue to spend the better part of a beautiful Saturday indoors looking at coordinates. Not bad! And there’s more to come; stay tuned for further events and social media on the map in the coming weeks!
SUNDAY: The People’s Climate March. By now you’ve probably seen the statistics. 400,000+ people marched through the streets of New York City, more than 500 buses brought people into town from all over the country. Participants came from all over the world, and solidarity actions took place in 166 countries. As impressive as the numbers are, the numbers can’t convey the whole story–how incredible it felt to see all of our hard work come to fruition, the amazing feeling of walking with other people who are giving everything they have to fight fossil fuels around the world, the wave of sound that surrounded us after the moment of silence, and the incredible outpouring of creativity and art that swept across the city like a people’s storm. The fracking block was BIG, it was LOUD, and it got the message out that FRACKING = METHANE = CLIMATE CHANGE. One of the most impressive aspects of the march was how we kept seeing this message throughout the march, and not just in the fracking block. If you ever doubted that anti-fracking activism is an integral part of the climate movement, the march firmly laid those doubts to rest.
MONDAY: Flood Wall Street. Sane’s Outreach Coordinator, Kim Fraczek, was arrested with 96 others when thousands of activists took over lower Broadway in an incredible act of civil disobedience. People assembled in Battery Park all morning, getting trained in the day’s action and hearing from speakers such as Chris Hedges and Naomi Klein. At noon, the people took the street, stopping traffic across five blocks for nine hours. We don’t know what our favorite moment was–it could have been hearing indigenous voices amplified a thousand strong by the people’s mic across the financial district. It could have been the “carbon bubbles,” the giant inflatable metaphors for our stranded investments in fossil fuels, which the police ultimately destroyed. (How about that? The NYPD is tackling climate change after all!) It could have been singing as one voice, or hearing from Tim DeChristopher, or watching with glee while activists took over a tourist bus. What we do know is that this is the start of a new era in New York City activism, and we’re thrilled to be a part of it. Kim explained why she joined the action: “The fossil fuel industry makes pointed calculations on how to break, shape, bribe, create loops and openings in our law so that their profits trump our public health and our democracy. While they play shell games with numbers and shareholders on Wall Street, we see the results: life on the planet is actually dying, our families and friends suffer, our water and our food is poisoned. This is the time to escalate everything we have built in our movement. That includes non-violent civil disobedience on a mass scale.”
TUESDAY: The Solutions Grassroots Tour. We all went over to the Irondale Theatre to check out Bill McKibben (before he had to duck out and go address the UN, that is); John Fenton leading a troupe of actors; folk legends Peter and Bethany Yarrow; and Nahko Bear. Over the course of the night, we got to know families and communities at every point of the fossil fuel life cycle–from rural families who discover to their horror that they do not have any legal recourse against the companies drilling on their land, to the wars fought in the name of industry, to the neighborhoods in coastal areas who have to contend with storms while knowing all along that there’s no one coming to help. After presenting this panorama of how we live now, the Solutions group connected audience members to renewable energy providers and encouraged them to organize among themselves. Renewables, entertainment, empowerment–these really are a few of our favorite things.
Thanks so much again to everyone who helped make the last few days special–this was really a glimpse of a different world, one that gets closer and closer every day!