Those of us organizing in the environmental and climate change movements face a challenging, largely unpredictable future. In the past, the mainstream environmental groups have suffered the consequences of a lack of outreach to other movements. Especially over the past year or so, many green activists have come to this same conclusion and are working to remedy the situation.
On October 6th, 2011 author Naomi Klein gave a speech in Zuccotti Park to thousands of protesters whom had just returned from a march on Wall Street. While most of the speech dealt with the excesses of the financial system, Klein eloquently tied the burgeoning economic justice movement to issues such as the tar sands.
Today everyone can see that the system is deeply unjust and careening out of control. Unfettered greed has trashed the global economy. And it is trashing the natural world as well. We are overfishing our oceans, polluting our water with fracking and deepwater drilling, turning to the dirtiest forms of energy on the planet, like the Alberta tar sands. And the atmosphere cannot absorb the amount of carbon we are putting into it, creating dangerous warming. The new normal is serial disasters: economic and ecological.
After you make the connection between the destruction of the planet, the excesses that led to trillions being handed to the large financial institutions, issues such as poverty, healthcare, and the corrupt use of state powers for profit, the question becomes how to deal with these issues together instead of separately. Where these issues intersect is where climate justice begins, with organizations like Rising Tide North America springing up across the globe to carry the climate justice banner.
Members of Rising Tide North Texas are currently working with property owners and communities across Texas and Oklahoma who are being forced to give up land to TransCanada for the Keystone XL pipeline. In many cases families that have planned to leave their home to the next generation are suddenly being threatened if they do not sell parts their property. Middle class and working families in rural areas often depend on their land to make a decent living. Tar sands oil threatens streams, water tables, grasslands, forests, all of which families along the pipeline route need to survive. This is not a political issue, as much as Romney and Obama would like it to be. This is a community issue. These landowners are organizing on their own to stop the pipeline, and we are doing everything we can to help them.
Gathering the experiences of many long-time activists, Organizing Cools the Planet by Hilary Moore and Joshua Kahn Russell lays out the importance of our current moment to the planet. It emphasizes the role of front-line communities and how they are confronting the effects environmental collapse disproportionately to the rest of the population. According to Moore and Russell, frontline communities are directly impacted communities who have been able to collectively name the ways they are burdened and are organizing for action together.
When you align your organizing with someone else’s frontline, you’re practicing a form of ‘solidarity.’ Solidarity organizing isn’t one-directional. We don’t practice solidarity just because we’re ideologically committed to it; Instead of trying to motivate our peers through altruism…this is the way we can win.
Everyone with Tar Sands Blockade is working tirelessly to help defend these families and their homes from being destroyed by the infrastructure needed to feed our addiction to oil. We do this out of solidarity, not charity. Tar sands are game over for the climate, and we are committed to helping these families stop the Keystone XL pipeline. You can be involved too. Just go to our Join Us page and sign up. There are many different ways to contribute whether it is in person or online. Some typical roles could include the following.
• Direct support people on the ground.
• Amplifiers getting the message out.
• Bridges work at the intersections of different movements.
• Mobilizers gather large numbers of people in support of Tar Sands Blockade on the ground and online.
• Artists, musicians, actors, writers, poets and everything in between to help spread the word.
• Community organizers embed themselves in communities directly and even though they are not from the community, they are committed to it for the long haul.