After spending one month organizing the Portland People’s Climate March, I hopped on a plane to NYC and landed in the temporary epicenter of global climate activism. For three weeks, New York was filled with meetings, panels, rallies, marches and other climate events.
Hundreds of thousands of people gathered to show they care, but they also came for the excitement; the PCM was the place to be that weekend. The march was designed to appeal to a broad audience–and it did. All over NYC, I heard people talk about the march joyously, as though it were an upcoming festival. Its open atmosphere was effective at drawing 400,000 people to march in NYC, and many hundreds of thousands more at marches around the world.
I found the joy and excitement of the day symbolic of where the U.S. climate movement is. The march made it seem like the transition away from all fossil fuels and widespread deforestation will be fun and easy.It won’t be. It will be hard work that requires sacrifice, a paradigm shift, and passion strong enough to motivate us as we change the status quo. We need to embrace our collective rage and frustration at the lack of large scale government action and recent inundation of proposals for new fossil fuel projects. Moving forward, we need to look to the power of Flood Wall Street and the recent protests responding to police violence in communities of color as models for where the climate justice movement needs to go.
Editor’s note: If you haven’t put much thought yet into the massive public outcry in response to racialized police violence around the country, check out this captivating article titled Why Environmentalists Should Support the Black Lives Matter Protests.
Now, it’s two months later and I’m back on the west coast reading an analysis of interviews from the PCM. This collection, “Messages From the March,” put together by the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication, gives me hope for the climate movement. The passion and dedication captured in this small sample of interviews represents how strong this movement is.
“On a governmental level, I’m not that hopeful. But on a personal level I think people really can begin to make, bring the change they want. I mean, that’s to me, sometimes that’s the only way you can go.”
— Messages From the March
It’s going to take everyone to build a society that is free from fossil fuels and resilient to climate change. As promo materials for the march said, “to change everything, we need everyone.” The PCM successfully brought together the different branches of the climate justice movement. Now, post-march, we need to deepen these connections.
It’s on us to take the momentum from the march back home and keep building this movement. We need people more than ever to become active in an organization or a community group. We need to get off our computers and smartphones and into living rooms, churches, cafes and city parks. Let’s connect with local campaigns against fossil fuel exports and stand in solidarity with frontline communities.
Editor’s note: There are many ways to plug in with 350 and our allies in the fight against the multiple proposed fossil fuel export terminals in Portland and all along the coast. Check out this campaign against a propane export site, and show up to engage with the public process via supporting a delivery of testimony on Dec 17th and coming to a public hearing on Jan 13th.
We need our actions to go even deeper. We need to show our leaders – and each other – that we take the threats of climate change seriously. The next time we gather en masse, I hope we can dig in and confront the root causes of climate change, so we can begin building the society we need to maintain a safe climate.
Alone, we are limited in our power. Together, we are changing the course of history.
by Mia Reback