Convergence At March Point
As a climate activist living in a conservative, rural community in western Montana, I have struggled to remain optimistic about the possibility for real change. Change is anathema to many of my neighbors and my suggestion that more is needed tends to harden their resolve. They may not love the status quo but they prefer the Devil they know. With a history and culture deeply embedded in resource extraction (our state seal reads “oro y plata”), any talk of leaving something in the ground, like fossil fuels, is met with the same reaction given to changing gender roles, hyper-modern technology or socialized medicine. It often does not compute.
Fifty miles north of where I live is the more liberal college town of Missoula. Here a tentative climate movement has been built around Tar Sands actions and fighting coal export, much of which comes right through town. But despite lots of hard work and good intentions, our actions bring out the same 30 or 40 dedicated folks, the local media largely ignores us and we generally leave questioning our strategy and tactics going forward. Every day we watch the coal and oil trains heading west and we dream of climate action on a much grander scale!
As luck would have it, others were not only thinking along these same lines, they were planning to do something about it. By joining forces and collaborating on a regional scale, the Pacific Northwest is organizing an action which cannot and will not be ignored. From May 13 through the 15th we will mobilize thousands of concerned citizens, many feeling a much greater urgency and ready to increase the level of risk of they are willing to take. Together we are prepared to escalate at a scale more proportional to the crisis we face.
If you are like me, feeling uneasy after the Paris COP, these Break Free actions are just the tonic we need. This coming together in a coordinated fashion, not just regionally, but globally, will help restore everyone’s faith in people power. Being surrounded by smart, caring, talented folks who share your values and concern will re-charge the batteries and prepare us all for the long fight ahead. Because it will be a fight, on many fronts. In one sense, beating back these fossil fuel industries and their political backers will be the easy part. A far more difficult task will be explaining to our anxious, fearful neighbors why this change is necessary, why the current systems have failed them and how something more just and sustainable might take their place. Together we will learn how to have that conversation. Together we will stand. And together we will prevail.