28 October 2012

Quite Civil and Pretty Undisobedient

Well, despite all my trepidation, our non-violent civil disobedience last Monday (October 22, 2012) at the British Columbia Legislative Buildings was, well, just a very nice day of protest against tar sands and pipelines and oil tankers along our coast.

When we last spoke, I had just decided to get off my duff and go to the direct action training. On the way, I saw not one but two hawks, the first on a light post, and the second right at eye level sitting on a fence looking at me, beautiful yellow breast feathers in full view.
Hawk medicine is a totem that is filled with responsibility, because Hawk people see the overall view.... Hawk may be teaching you to grab an opportunity that is coming your way.... Hawk has a keen eye and a bold heart... and encourages you to follow the dictates of the heart. 
— Jamie Sams and David CarsonMedicine Cards
Well, there was no turning back now! Hawk had spoken, had approved my journey into the Elder phase of my life, that point where I have nothing to lose by taking my place "on the line" and risking arrest. (As Bill McKibben pointed out in a presentation the other night, it doesn't make sense for young people to be the "cannon fodder" in civil disobedience as they have their lives ahead of them. But as a middle ager, my financial security and career path are pretty much safe. Ahem.)

The almost nine hours of training went by quickly, with not a single boring moment! Apparently Hawk had spoken to a lot of people as there were several hundred of us ... many with hair whiter than mine.

The rally on Monday saw 4,000 to 5,000 people come out, with wonderful signs and lots of energy, to listen to a multitude of speakers. Our act of civil disobedience was to stake our banner (the length of a super oil tanker) into the grounds of the legislature, something that is illegal. And although the black banner was very visually arresting, the police decided it wasn't worth the effort to arrest anyone. It turned out to be a lovefest for our coastline, despite the controversy over the word "our" (in terms of ownership), and despite the chilly, rainy weather.

Anyway, although it was a pretty wussy day disobedience-wise, it accomplished the goal of recruiting a bunch of us who will now step up to it (and step it up) the next time.

That's me, to the left of my friend, Chad, who's in the bright "Protect Our Coast" t-shirt 

21 October 2012

Drained and Scared

Not much to say today. I'm feeling drained. And scared. Big rally tomorrow (against the tar sands pipelines and coastal oil tankers) and I've pledged to participate in the direct action. That means nine hours of civil disobedience training today, and several hours of "sitting in" in the cold and rain tomorrow. 

I've been questioning the usefulness of going. Ever since the peace marches, peace rallies and peace vigils begging for peace before the US's illegal invasion of Iraq did nothing to stop that invasion, I've recognized that our strategy of standing together has become useless. (Keystone pipeline, anyone?) And I'm not the kind of person who could throw a brick through a window (yet). 

So, how much is the symbolism worth? It seems that we need fabulously creative new strategies if we want to make any changes. But since we're in the midst of a crisis of creativity and imagination, that's probably not going to happen anytime soon. 

But I do feel myself drawn to go because I made a pledge to go, thereby proving one of the principles of social marketing. 

All right then, let's go. Let's do this just to do it. With no expectation of outcome. 

Wish me luck.

14 October 2012

It's So Freaking Lonely!

I felt so alone yesterday, so lonely, so isolated and solitary. I attended a (very well attended) panel discussion put on by my island community's conservation association. The event's title included "climate change" and "apocalypse" in the same breath: Upland and Near-Shore Apocalypse: How Climate Change, Plunging Fish Stocks and Declining Orcas Will Affect All Our Futures. So you can imagine that I went with some expectations.

It was fairly interesting, I can't deny it. But by the time I reached my car (my car! sheesh) to come home, I was sobbing in lament that we never once talked about how bad things are getting, that we spent a whole morning together, so many of us, and talked about restoration of eelgrass beds and how to protect beachfront homes from storm surges post sea level rise, but never talked about the 400,000 people being killed every year due to climate chaos. Apart from some IPCC temperature and sea level graphs and an Arctic map of disappearing sea ice (with no "therefore" presented), we didn't even dance around the topic of what's really happening. 

What really stuck with me was a government ecologist's mention of "assisted migration" – meaning that plants and sessile (or immobile) animals (like barnacles) that can't move on their own to adapt to our changing climate might have to be helped. That broke my heart, not just to think of all the species we're threatening, but that we didn't once talk about assisting the migration of millions of people whose lives are being so impacted by the changing climate. 

And the other thing that struck me is that the panelists never talked about food. I'm a vegan and don't think of fish as food, but as our agriculture goes down the toilet due to droughts and heat waves and wildfires, more and more people will start relying on "hunting," gathering and foraging for food. 

That might have been a way to make an emotional connection for the audience between their foreshores and their futures. But no one bothered. 

Surely it's not because no one else cares. Is it because no one else knows? Is it only a few of us on the fringe – those who put it all together rather than studying climate change in fragmented bits – who see what's coming? Either way, it's very lonely holding that knowledge, that knowing. Life would be much nicer (and the burden, the secret would be shared) if others were willing to know it, too. 


07 October 2012

Look for the Gift, and the Better Feeling Thought

First of all, I owe two newish friends an apology. Last December, when I thought they were all "Oh, we only think positive thoughts," it turns out they were simply taking a break from years of very focused climate change activism. 

We just shared a vegan (Canadian) Thanksgiving feast with them at the home of another wonderful friend and activist, and after predicting that we wouldn't be even mentioning let alone discussing climate change with our "only positive thoughts" guests, it turns out we spent much of the evening talking about the Arctic meltdown and especially the urgency of getting ourselves growing food in order to be resilient in the face of agricultural meltdown. It was one of the most positive – and hopeful – conversations I've had in, well, possibly years! 

I share all that to introduce two things I've learned this week that are helping me enormously. Tonight, one friend kept saying, "Let's bring it back to the better feeling thought" (a concept that might be from The Course in Miracles, but I'm not sure). It was a reminder not to wallow in the bad news but to accept it and focus on solutions … and we found ourselves coming up with all sorts of doable (fun and feasible) solutions for developing food security for ourselves, our loved ones and our communities. 

The other cool lesson I learned this week (again, from one of my Thanksgiving dinner companions) comes, I believe, from a workshop on cultivating peace offered by James O'Dea (someone I met years ago through my involvement with the Seva Foundation): Look for the gift in every conflict. 

Look for the gift in every conflict! I told you a couple of weeks ago [It Was the Best of Times, It Was the Worst of Times] about receiving an email completely dissing Al Gore and, by inference, me – from someone we thought was like-minded. (Luckily, I received it after my first Climate Reality presentation, and not before.) Well, when my hubby and I started asking ourselves what the gift in that weird little conflict was, we came up with wonderful ways to improve my presentation. So now I'm going to explain what a hero Al Gore is and why, right at the beginning of the talk. And then I'm going to present solutions. Right near the beginning. 

That way, people will be thinking the better feeling thought as they look for the gift (communities coming together, a return to simpler times, a focus on alternative ways to grow and share food) in the climate change impacts they'll be witnessing during my slide show.

What do you think? What's your better feeling thought about all this?