I spent the past few months (the last two weeks in Washington D.C.) working with an incredible group of organizers, trainers and activists on the Capitol Climate Action. On Monday, after a greatly successful weekend of outreach and training (our buildup trained almost 2,000 people in non-violence action tactics) at Power Shift, we turned out 3,000+ students, environmentalists, people of faith, front line community members and many others to risk arrest at the Capitol Power Plant.
While the police made no arrests as we overwhelmed every entrance to that plant and they barricaded themselves in it, I am without a doubt that we took the No Coal/Climate Justice movement to another level.
The previous week, our mass organizing led to Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Reid to try and pre-empt our action by calling for a removal of coal from fuel mix of the plant (NOT good enough, natural gas is still a fossil fuel harming communities around the country). But this action wasn’t about that one plant (something that Pelosi, Reid, the media, some allies on the left and foes on the right didn’t quite get), it’s about ALL the coal plants, the coal mines, the natural gas terminals, the oil refineries and the rest of the fossil fuel infrastructure.
Leaving the Capitol Climate Action, as my good friend and comrade Joshua Kahn Russell says, we need to return to our communities and become organizers in our own right. And not just organizers to get politicians elected or write letters for non-profits, but community organizers skilled and motivated to use direct action strategically to begin an unraveling of the fossil fuel industry’s tentacles in our everyday lives.
Changing light bulbs and lobbying ain’t gonna do it. We need more. We need to take risks and realize it’s not all going to be easy, glamorous or even, at times, effective. We need some experimentation with creative direct action. We need to create what writer-organizer David Solnit calls a “labratory of resistance.” In the last month, we’ve seen movements in Latvia and Iceland challenge and overturn their governments using direct action tactics and strategies. Now it’s our turn.
And it’s already happening and can be as easy as plugging into the Capitol Climate Action. In the next two months, direct actions are being planned in east Tennessee, North Carolina and West Virginia.
If you want to get involved check out:
Also, in December, groups under an umbrella called the Mobilization for Climate Justice will be organizing a mass action in the U.S. to stand in solidarity with anti-corporate climate justice movements in Europe at COP15.
The Capitol Climate Action is merely prologue to a long struggle for climate justice.