Putting it on the Line

The issue of climate change is one that we ignore at our own peril. There may still be disputes about exactly how much we’re contributing to the warming of the earth’s atmosphere and how much is naturally occurring, but what we can be scientifically certain of is that our continued use of fossil fuels is pushing us to a point of no return. And unless we free ourselves from a dependence on these fossil fuels and chart a new course on energy in this country, we are condemning future generations to global catastrophe.

– Barack Obama

A beautiful wrap up of the two week sit-in.

If you signed the Tar Sands Action petition (and if you haven’t yet, click on the link and you’ll be taken right there. Takes 30 seconds), chances are you have received the updates from Bill Mckibben. 1,253 arrests, a little bit of mainstream media coverage, and plans for the future. If you have been following the news, then you know about the State Department’s initial approval of the EIS for the pipeline. You may also have heard that Obama backed down from legislation that would have tightened smog regulations…yet another chance where he could have walked his talk and instead buckled to GOP pressure. This same pressure is making it look like Obama will approve the pipeline.. As I am heartened by the Tar Sands actions in Washington, I am in no way relieved, in no way do I feel this fight has been won. What I do feel is that This Is It. This (and all other upcoming issues re: halting climate change) is the crux of our times. I have been soaring above the battle grounds, and now I am focusing in, honing where I may best be of use, and preparing to dive.

As I’m sure you gathered, I decided not to go to D.C.. Ultimately, it came down to one thing. The question of “What is sustainable?”. What is sustainable for me, for my financial survival, for my family, for Fern? I had a little bit of money that I received through my internship, and I could have dropped every cent into a plane ticket. When I started weighing the true cost against potential effectiveness, I realized it would not be money well spent.

Of course one never knows the real result of ones actions, but I figured that One Person and 2,441 miles plus 1/2 a day of protests, where I could not add my name to the list of arrested, did not offset exhaustion, being broke, strain on my partner, the lack of breastfeeding for my daughter, recovery from stress and the carbon footprint of air travel. It all sounds like a good argument on paper, but there is not a small part of me (a rebellious, passionate, adventurous part) who think it sounds like a cop out. Maybe it was.

Turns out, that those of us who couldn’t make it to D.C. now have the opportunity to bring it home. Tar Sands Action is planning for more protests on October 7th, but in the meantime, there is opportunity to meet with small groups in your hometown. There is also opportunity to go to the Obama campaign headquarters where you live and do something like the following:

There is opportunity to sign up to coordinate and lead an office visit like this. I want to do this in San Francisco, but I won’t do it alone. I work much better in tandem, in collaboration…plus I am introverted and tend to go all Deer In the Headlights during confrontation. So tell me….is there anyone in San Francisco, anyone who reads this blog, regardless of whether or not you have ever commented or I have ever met you in person, who would like to organize an office visit with me? I actually think it would be fun, but I can’t go it alone.

We need to hold Obama accountable for his campaign promises…those promises of “leaving the world a better place for our children.” Its why I voted for him, and I will vote for him again…but homeboy has got to step it up.

Here is the letter from Bill McKibben about the next phase.

Dear friends—

Here’s the battle plan we promised—a few hours late, because it’s been a big job wrapping up phase one of this campaign.

By now you know what you accomplished: 1,253 arrests, according to some journalists the biggest civil disobedience action since 1977, and the most sustained since the epic campaigns of the civil rights movement. That was enough to take a regional issue and make it a national and even global one (many thanks to our friends, who picketed American and Canadian embassies on every continent).

Together you managed to make this central environmental test for the administration, and to inform everyone who’s paying attention that Barack Obama will get to make the call by himself, without Congress in the way. In other words, you’ve laid the groundwork for a mighty victory—now we have to make it pay off.

Here’s the plan:

Our main efforts will be to keep the focus on the White House, even as we engage the State Department review process and other technical aspects of the debate. We don’t want the President to be able to hide from the decisions he’s making.

And we’re not going to do him the favor of attacking him. Instead, we’re going to pay him the dangerous compliment of taking his words from 2008 seriously. Just to remind you, here are two of the many pledges he made while he was inspiring so many of us to knock on doors and send in donations in 2008:

 “Let’s be the generation that finally frees America from the tyranny of oil”

 “Because if we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children … this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.”

We’re still planning something big for October 7th or 8th – the 7th is the date of the last State Department hearing in Washington, DC – but first we need to go back into our communities to keep building this movement. The White House is going to be watching to see if our sit-in was an isolated incident or whether there really is a movement of people across this country rising up to stop the pipeline.

First, we need to tell the story of what just happened in Washington by meeting with folks in our communities to talk about our experiences. This could be as simple as a small gathering in your home, or as elaborate as you’d like. Your story is the most powerful tool you have to keep building this movement. A few of our organizers got together to make a PowerPoint slideshow that you can use in a meetup, and if you’d like to host an event in your community to spread the word, sign up here: http://www.tarsandsaction.org/meet-up

Second, all around the country, people will be going to Obama campaign offices in polite but firm fashion to remind him that we took him seriously—that he shouldn’t have said it if he didn’t mean it. Watch this video that just arrived from Seattle to get a sense of what we have in mind. We’ll be trying to coordinate this work from city to city—if you’re willing to help in your town, and are certain you can deliver a calm, stern message, sign up here: http://www.tarsandsaction.org/office-visits/

That’s our plan for now. I want to make sure that we use this opportunity to strengthen our connections with each other, and make this a true movement. This is your opportunity to start taking a leadership role in this campaign.

We’ll be giving you updates on plans for the 7th of course, and letting you know what’s up. We have no guarantee we’ll succeed, but thanks to you this fight is very much on!

-Bill McKibben for tarsandsaction.org

PS – We’re very aware that the federal government has scheduled the hearing on the 7th for Yom Kippur. With whatever action we take, we will make sure our Jewish brothers and sisters will be able to join us.

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6 thoughts on “Putting it on the Line

  1. thank you for making the comment about yom kippur. really, nobody ever knows or cares abt jewish holy days around here and i am grateful you even addressed it! i may be willing to get involved in something, though i am gonna see my surgeon on 9/30 about possible neck surgery and i may not be able to commit to anything continuous for a few months. one day at a time – thank you for your passion and articulation, mary. i think many of us feel so depressed right now about the whole political situation – it’s hard to get the gumption up. and thanks for noting that oct 7th is YK!

    1. your thanks goes to bill mckibben jackie! those were his words re: YK. for my part, i knew it was sometime in the beginning of Oct. but didn’t know the exact date. as for doing an action together, that would be AWESOME, but i am also super glad to hear that you are getting the help you need for your neck. xo

  2. Although I can’t do anything in Australia, aside from talking about is to my friends and my very tolerant partner. I just want you to know I will be thinking of you and am definitely with you in spirit! Let me know if there’s any way i can get involved from afar!

  3. Well, as a “deer in the headlights” type myself I know what a huge deal it is for someone like us to take on something like this and I so admire your passion and courage Mary. May the perfect partner find their way to you!

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