From August 16th to August 24th students, organizers, activists, and movement-builders alike joined forces to form the Rise Together week of action. Highlighting the climate change and exploitation problems we are seeing with natural gas, coal, and oil, this week included actions of all varieties in locations all across the United States, fighting the expansion of extreme fossil fuel extraction. One purpose was “aimed at shifting the power away from the destructive industries and back into the hands of the people.” A second purpose was to prioritize frontline community resistance, something big green environmental organizations have failed to do.
Here are what some members involved said about the mobilization (via Waging Nonviolence):
Abby Stoner, of the Blue Skies Campaign, said: “Groups like 350[.org], and the whole rally in New York, are really great, but it’s unrealistic to think that people are going to be able to participate in that, and highlighting the small things that many groups are doing across the country is a way to combat the more oppressive tendencies within the climate justice movement.” Sherrie Andre of Fighting Against Natural Gas (FANG), said: “Last year with Fearless Summer, there was a lot of emphasis on arrestable nonviolent direct action, which is awesome, but which I think also scares some people away from participating in environmental groups…We were hoping that this mobilization would bring together a bunch of people who maybe would not have participated in nonviolent direct action, but are now re-envisioning what activism means to them.” Kelly Canavan, a member of FANG currently organizing with AMP Creeks Council around Dominion’s Cove Point Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) export project, said: “Once you start really getting involved in these movements and getting involved in communities where energy extraction and export projects are taking place, you can’t miss the fact that communities are targeted much more often when they’re powerless in some way, whether they’re communities of color or they’re economically depressed or some other way marginalized…So if we’re going to work with communities who are affected by these issues most immediately we have to address the other issues affecting them.” Tabitha Tripp of the Shawnee Forest Sentinels and the Southern Illinoisans Against Fracturing Our Environment, (SAFE), said: “It’s really important that we all reach out as a support network because especially in rural America, you really feel alone sometimes. You feel like this is just a solitary battle. ‘Rise together’ is exactly what needs to happen. It shows we aren’t alone, we’re not fighting by ourselves. We’re all going through the same thing because of the corporatocracy that’s ruining our way of life.”
Together, as a community, we need to demonstrate the dangers of fracking and fossil fuel extraction. Fracking and other forms of extreme energy extraction like Mountain-Top-Removal-Coal-Mining aren’t creating any economic booms, despite what headlines of well-known newspapers would say. They aren’t helping the people whose land they directly or indirectly affect through water contamination and climate change, respectively. They aren’t helping us solve our energy problems. And they certainly aren’t helping us transition to the renewable energy future we need to see to avoid climate catastrophe. In Susquehanna County specifically, we met with a group of people, including impacted landowners, to discuss the problems of fracking and ways to organize against it. Music, Art, and Activism came together as Scranton-based bands Terra Voz and Friends of the Family came to provide some music, we barbecued on the grill, and sang songs by the fire. The next morning (into early evening), we canvassed landowners to tell them about the dangers of the proposed Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline Project. We made connections with groups like the Tequila Interchange Project (TIP) and Living In Belief Media, with whom we hope to foster growing relationships and collaborations over the coming months and years. We’re in a war. A war against violence, a war against greed, a war to protect our planet. On one side, high up on towers of dollar bills and drilling rigs, lie the oppressors. They exploit and lie to citizens, and whenever they break a law they simply change it. They are the Goliaths. On the other side, in the trees, sitting and locking themselves to equipment, speaking out, writing articles and demonstrating the world we deserve to live in, lie us, the savers. We organize and lead tours, We hold meetings against pipelines and compressor stations, we seek to dismantle the status quo with which our country and our world have become obsessed. These people, these brave fighters, will Rise Together to overcome the ones in power. We are the Davids. We, the people, are the Davids. And we are here to win.