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The climate movement returns to the streets on Tuesday
For a few months, the pandemic kept carbon emissions down.
But it kept the environmental movement down far longer.
Not completely. After indigenous activists held the fort during the worst of covid, people from around the country flooded into Minnesota in the summer of 2021 to help the fight against Line 3, for instance, and groups like the Sunrise Movement mobilized to plague Joe Manchin and help push the first real climate bill across the Congressional finish line last summer. But you might have to go back to September of 2019, when youth activists staged a series of enormous school strikes, to really see a popular mobilization across the continent.
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Tuesday will feature a hundred demonstrations in cities across 29 states, organized by fifty environmental and justice groups. It will have its own flavor, because the idea came from my colleagues at Third Act, which organizes people over the age of 60—that’s why, for instance, many of us will be blocking bank doors in rocking chairs in downtown DC. The target across the country will be Chase, Citibank, Wells-Fargo, and Bank of America—the four biggest American banks, and the planet’s four biggest lenders to the fossil fuel industry. And the message will be clear and simple: stop funding fossil fuel expansion.
Here are some people delivering various aspects of that message. Kitty Calhoun, for instance, a rock climber in her 60s who took her credit card up a cliff and then cut it up to make her point about the destruction of the world she loves.
And here’s Rebecca Solnit, for my money the best essayist in the country, cutting up her credit card in front of the fire-scarred forests of her native California
And here’s Akaya Windwood, lead advisor to Third Act, longtime head of the Rockwood Leadership Institute, and the most powerful and grounded movement leader I know.
And here’s Wendy Benchley, who became one of the planet’s great ocean conservationists after her late husband Peter wrote Jaws. She went underwater to cut up her card, surrounded by the creatures endangered by the greed of these banks and the oil companies they fund
Most of those people are well-known activists, but the glory of this day may the number of novice campaigners who are finding their stride. That picture at the top with the giant scissors comes from the crew at Third Act Puget Sound, which is going to have a big and boisterous gathering; I’ve spent the last few days hearing from people everywhere, excited at the prospect of going in the streets for the first time. Third Act Faith is holding a big interfaith zoom service of solidarity tomorrow night to get things going (and here’s a nifty essay about how this action makes real sense during Lent), and in DC a 24 hour vigil will begin midday tomorrow
Everywhere there is glorious art, made by activists under the direction of David Solnit. To give you a feel, here’s the crew in Reno Nevada making posters
Over the weekend, projections of the posters were going up on bank walls from San Francisco to Rochester NY
Some of that art has been draped from overpasses
and we’ve even turned it into…merchandise! (That’s a $5 bandana, friends).
The media has begun to notice. Here’s Ben Jealous, once the head of the NAACP and now the executive director of the Sierra Club, the world’s most important environmental organization, writing in the Guardian about how these banks are now redlining the planet.
I’m reaching Substack’s limit for length here, and anyway I’ve got to get back to work—the phone is ringing off the hook. But here’s the bottom line: join us. Find an event to be part of on Tuesday, no matter your age. We’ve got to show our strength!
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