As thousands in DC prepare to risk arrest in an effort to stop the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, a wave of creative protest and resistance to the fossil economy seems to be sweeping the US. To take just one example I’m aware of, this past week ForestEthics organizers and volunteers in three cities took action to demand that Dole and Chiquita sever their ties to the Canadian tar sands.
In Los Angeles, Chicago, and Portland, Oregon, groups of activists staged creative protests outside of stores that sell bananas from Dole and Chiquita – companies the run their truck fleets partly on oil from the tar sands. A typical banana travels 3,000 miles from plantations in Central America to store shelves in the US, making the tropical fruit industry a major oil consumer. Dole and Chiquita could be using their market power to steer energy development away from destructive projects like the tar sands and toward renewable power. Instead they’ve chosen to fuel their vehicles with tar sands oil, fueling demand for this deadly product.
Volunteers at this week’s three protests used giant banana costumes, “tar-covered” (actually chocolate-covered) bananas, and other creative props to get the attention of passersby. They also collected “customer complaints” that will be delivered to Dole and Chiquita (you can sign the customer complaint petition here). Earlier this week, thousands of activists flooded Dole’s and Chiquita’s Facebook pages with comments about the tar sands, posting links to an ad created by ForestEthics, which calls out the fruit giants in their hometown papers.
The online activism definitely got the companies’ attention: Chiquita temporarily shut down comments on its Facebook page in response. Meanwhile store managers could hardly fail to notice the actions happening literally right outside their doors. All this activity comes on the heels of actions that took place earlier this summer, at the launch of the campaign against Dole and Chiquita.
What’s inspiring to me about these protests and so many others springing up across the country (including the mass civil disobedience in DC), is that most people involved are so focused on staying positive, wearing a smile, and having a good time even as we confront a deadly serious issue. Those pursuing direct action in the climate movement are intent on harnessing the power of positive hope and goodwill to create a better future, rather than getting bogged down in anger.
A beautiful movement for climate justice is taking shape as we watch. And I for one am excited to be part of it.