New York Bans Fracking

New York Bans Fracking
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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Why march? What IS a march going to DO?

A note from an organizer for the People's Climate March....

September was the wrong month to give up coffee.

My Lughnasadh promise, in honor of the Earth's sacrifice of the harvest, was to stop drinking my coveted brew. Deforestation for coffee farms, delivery planes and trucks, packaging, to-go has to go. My timing could not have been worse. Over the last few weeks, all energy--natural and caffeinated--has been funneled directly into the Climate March. 


Not long ago, I was tagged with this editorial by Chris Hedges. The article is good, and important. It raises critical questions about the Climate March but also criticizes it for being too little, too late, and a huge waste of effort. Truly...what is a march of a million people in NYC really going to do to impact climate change?

Nothing...unless we make it count for something. 

What IS it for?
The climate is in crisis. World leaders need to make addressing this crisis their top priority. It is timed with the UN Summit on the Climate Crisis. This peaceful, legal March will demonstrate just how many people will be impacted by the effects of climate change--and how they will be impacted.

It's not a solution. It's a magnet for solutions.
The March may be the starring attraction, but the days surrounding it are packed with hundreds of teach-ins, lectures, and networking events. PEC-NYC has made connections with people from upstate NY all the way to Canada, with the aim of sharing tactics to address environmental problems. We may be brought together by the March, but it's really an opportunity to work together and learn from one another. We're burning a ton of carbon just making this March happen. We have a responsibility to make it count for something.
Fighting the "Blahs." Recently, I invited a fellow Witch group to attend a PEC-NYC function designed to raise awareness of a potential LNG port. Their leader replied, "Activism bores me...but your event sounds fun!" Activism can be boring. Other people feel the climate problem is too depressing or big to fight. Many simply don't know where to start. Fun brings people in and the PCM is becoming more like a festival than a traditional demonstration. People may show up for a good time, but will leave with practical ways to address the problems in their area. Rarely do people attend these things and then vanish. Most find their way into helping another issue. They find the tools to address the things that break their hearts, often through a method that brings them joy. 

Will the UN even notice? 
Sept 21 is a Sunday and the UN won't even be in session. The March route isn't anywhere near the UN. Will they even know we're there??? The answer is YES. Although it won't yet be in session, many delegates will already be in town and many are involved in the March, themselves. While the route doesn't pass the UN, it does go through midtown along 42nd Street. The NYPD never permits marches on 42nd...except this time!  Have you ever been in Manhattan when midtown is shut down???? Lives are ruined thoroughly disrupted...far more so than shutting down the East Side, where the UN resides. The city will feel it. Plus, we'll be marching directly past Fox News. Think about that when you're making your signs this week... 

Photo by Beth Kemler
Photos tell a story. Stories get attention. 
A million people marching will send a message. The picture on the left is from a march I attended in this past summer in DC, calling for a stop to the construction of the Cove Point liquified natural gas export station. It's not a project I've worked on directly, but I've worked on stopping the construction of a similar LNG port up here in NYC. This picture tells a story: thousands of people took the time to speak out against Cove Point LNG's construction. THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE DON'T WANT IT. For every person who did march, there are at least ten more at home unable to attend, but who stand in agreement. Photos of the Climate March will be everywhere. Even if members the UN doesn't see it on 9/21, they are sure to see images for weeks and years to come.

Infiltrators, instigators, interlopers....
People are rightfully upset that some groups with ties to natural gas or other industries contributing to climate change are squirming their way into the march, claiming to be fossil fuel alternatives when they most certainly are not. Unfortunately, this is the reality of activism. You know you're doing something right when opposition tries to subversively thwart you. It's a compliment in a weird way. It's also an opportunity to practice staying loyal to truth and not being swayed.

If we take this as an opportunity to build a movement that begins on Sept. 22, then it is worth the while. If we stop our movement on 11th Avenue, we will have failed.Every movement attracts the labels, "Too much" or "Too little"; "Not time" or "Past Due." Every time I've ever focused on an action, I've been asked if "it wouldn't be a better use of my time to direct all that energy into something else. Maybe this should have happened years ago, but it didn't. Maybe this should happen while the UN is in official session, but it's not. It's happening one week from today. We can should ourselves into oblivion, or we can either make this an opportunity to build a true, global movement. I'm routing for the latter and I hope you are, too.

We don't know if it's too late to stop climate change or even if we can minimize the effects of it. But we can't skip the opportunity to try. Human beings are fighters. We've survived as a species because we take risks, we fail, we fail again, only to get up and try once more.

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Let's do this thing. 

Courtney Weber
HPS, Novices of the Old Ways--NY
Organizer, Pagan Environmental Coalition of NYC

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