Letter on the People's Climate March
I’ve long planned on attending the People's Climate March. I bought a train ticket back in May, after I read, “A Call to Arms.” I have a confession though: I just wasn’t crazy excited about the march, certainly not compared to my friends and fellow organizers. That was, until I heard about #floodwallstreet. Let me explain because I know this might sound like blasphemy.
I’m tired of what’s sometimes called “flash point organizing.” I’m referring to large actions, often around an event—like a UN meeting—where we spend a great deal of time working to get bodies out to an action. There is great potential to build our power through these events. But I also think we should be honest and admit we often drop the ball on follow-up. It can be tough: “Wait, I just spent my weekend going to a march and now you want me to do more?” We might reply: “Yes, you did great work, but we need you in this movement. Giving up one Sunday isn’t going to slow the fossil fuel juggernaut.”
In some ways, it’s not our fault. Collaboration between hundreds of groups and tens of thousands of people is difficult. But it’s especially difficult to do so in very democratic ways, and participatory democracy is how we build powerful movements. I am not a huge fan of our march route, our day of the week, or that we have made it such “big tent” so as to include the likes of the Climate Group. But I would have been a lot more comfortable with all this if decision-making from the very beginning had been more transparent and more democratic. We are getting better here, learning lessons through Occupy (happy anniversary!) and the Social Forum. Environmental justice organizers like the Climate Justice Alliance deserve a lot of thanks and support for making this march as powerful as it’s going to be.
I appreciate the broad outreach efforts crystallized in the slogan, "to change everything, we need everyone." It has never sat right though. I don't want everyone; I don't want fossil fuel companies or the banks that fund them. More importantly, we don't need everyone. We need enemies for a real social movement, so having everyone on one side is untenable. Here’s the simple truth though, we have enemies. They have addresses. They have names. And they are listed on the NYSE.
That’s why, when September 22nd rolls around, we #floodwallstreet. I have that righteous anger boiling in my belly. I want justice, for all the people long-suffering from the fossil fuel juggernaut, for those already killed because oil is so profitable, and for the hundreds of millions who will die if we don’t move fast. I’m proud to be taking the fight to the enemy. I’m proud to use the privilege I have to put my body on the line. And I’ll be proud to share that story when I arrive back on campus to build power.
Another slogan for the march is to “bend the course of history.” We decide the course of history, but only when we take power and demand justice. With love <3<3<3.
Bobby Wengronowitz is a founding member of Climate Justice at Boston College and works with Students for a Just and Stable Future and Better Future Project/350MA. He is a PhD student at Boston College and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.