Like a gal who has a date for the prom—then gets another offer, I found myself in the happy dilemma of having two actions to choose from on Saturday for the Global Day of Climate Change Action sponsored by 350.org. The first was my city affinity group we call Kitchen Table because we’re old friends and housemates who like to sit around the kitchen table planning and arguing. Like those soil bacteria that go dormant until just the right conditions arise, we revive periodically when something exciting is coming up. Kitchen Table was planning to take part in a bicycle action in San Francisco.
But on Friday, when I was up at the ranch pondering how I was going to finish everything I need to do and get down to the city, I got a call from my friend Elaine. With effervescent excitement, she informed me that our country affinity group, Wild Iris, had also revived and was planning to meet at Fort Ross Road and Highway One for a demonstration.
What’s a gal to do? I’ve never wanted to be one of those fickle friends that cancels lunch with your best friend when that New Potential Lover calls—ah, but it’s been a long time since I’ve had that problem—but I just couldn’t resist the lure of a demo with my friends and neighbors, where my presence alone might up attendance by 5 or 10 percent!
So I met Elaine and other good folks from the hills, down where the road meets Highway One overlooking the ocean. We held signs for a long time, flashing all the coastal traffic and the cars coming in and out of Fort Ross State Park. The sun was shining, the breeze was balmy, the Park Rangers were friendly and supportive, the ocean was sparkling down below…and hey, political action requires sacrifice from us all, so I just had to grit my teeth and endure.
Then we marched down to the Fort in a small procession. Fort Ross is an authentic reconstruction of the Russian Fort built on the coast in 1812. It marks the furthest extent of Russian occupation down the West Coast, and they used it to grow food to help supply their Alaskan settlements, and as a base for hunting sea otters. After a number of years, the gophers got so bad that their agricultural efforts started to fail—and that’s a problem I can identify with!
We lay on the ground and after a certain amount of debate and argument, got ourselves into position to take the 350 picture. The sun was warm, the ground was soft, and I tried to recruit the others to stay there until we got meaningful global agreements on climate change….or had to pee, whichever came first.
What does political action do? Does it matter that a dozen of us spent a day standing in the sunshine, holding signs, talking to tourists?
I believe it does matter. We calculated over a thousand people will have seen our signs. They’ll wonder what ‘350’ means, and what it has to do with climate change? They might click on 350.org and find out that this action is one of 4000 worldwide. They’ll marvel that even in our remote corner of the world, people are concerned about the issue. We’re everywhere!
And our affinity group has been revived. Undaunted by our harrowing day in the sunshine, we’re ready for more.
More is necessary. This December will see new international talks at Copenhagen, aimed at a new agreement to supercede Kyoto. To get any meaningful, large-scale action, we need a strong, vocal, loud and active global movement—one that may ask us for more dedication and perhaps more confrontation than our happy day in the sun. So let’s begin!