One day there was a march called No War, No Warming, calling out war and the climate emergency, and their interrelationship. As marchers passed near Zuccotti Park (site of the initial Occupy movement) and the famous Bull of Wall Street, we set up two tripods, with banners declaring No War and No Warming, and an activist perched atop each. I locked down with another woman (each of us with an arm inside a metal pipe) and stood under the tripod, just to increase the time the cops would have to spend getting us out before going after the tripod-sitters.
The weird thing was, when we arrived there were seven officers, and as we proceeded to set up the entire action, more and more came – to watch! There were about 40 by the time we were all in position. Only then did they give warnings and say we’d be arrested if we didn’t leave. Nobody left. Nine of us were arrested and spent between four and seven hours in jail before being released. We were all in separate cells, which was bo-ring. But we could talk a little with the person in the next cell, and we spent some time singing. We have to go to court on May 6. That's me standing with the mask and sunglasses right behind the No Warming banner.
A few days later I was watching a webinar with Dr. Jonathan Foley, director of Project Drawdown, which put 100 solutions for a sustainable planet in a book of that name that came out a few years ago. His work focuses on solutions (or “opportunities”) rather than shaming and blaming our government and business leaders or demanding that they do as we say. (Not that XR does that. One of its principles is “no blaming or shaming.”) One example Foley gave was that Google provided its employees with a free high-end lunch, and one day introduced “meatless Mondays.” Some employees complained because they felt like something was being taken away from them. So, the company switched its marketing to promote gourmet vegetarian fare, and everybody loved it.
I think we have to do both: call out the crisis and propose positive solutions. We can celebrate that clean energy is growing by leaps and bounds, but we still need to point out that overall, fossil fuel emissions are up, not down, and that’s not sustainable. Here’s a link to his excellent talk.