The People’s Climate March

For those of you who weren’t aware (gosh I hope you were aware if you’re reading this blog!), the People’s Climate March took place in NYC yesterday in response to a summit going on at the UN about the same subject. The march, apparently, was 300,000+ strong. Amazing. Wish I could have been there.

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(Apparently the above cyclists were a different group, riding in honor of Trayvon Martin.)

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I wanted to go so bad, in fact, that I decided to partake in my own one-person demonstration here in Pasadena in light of LA’s solidarity march getting cancelled for some reason.

Here’s what I wrote on my tumblr:

I stood on a street corner in Old Town Pasadena yesterday holding up this sign for 45 minutes. This part of town is PACKED on the weekends, as it’s basically one giant fancy outdoor mall.

I wound up interacting, I guess, with a total of 6 people, though it seemed like a good number of folks managed to at least look at the sign. First person was a woman who was from NYC, thanking me for being out there and marveling at the intense activism over there, wishing that there was more of that here. (There is, but it’s much more labor-oriented.) Second person was a homeless man who asked me if I was taking money. I told him no, and he laughed and said that I was a special kind of crazy. He proceeded to flirt with me and tell me about how he’d visited NYC in a vision. The third person was a fat old white man who stopped and read the sign, then walked away, laughing. The foruth was a young girl who was waiting to cross the street with her mom, who read it, and who I heard ask “mom, what’s—” as soon as she thought she was out of earshot.

The fifth was a man who talked to me for probably 15 minutes about what I felt the alternative to capitalism was. He was genuinely curious, and made sure to let me know he wasn’t trying to be argumentative several times. He told me that he traveled through Eastern Europe back in the late 70’s and talked to a lot of folks living under communism, and that made him seriously doubt his socialist stance at the time. (This is interesting to me because the Hungarians I’ve talked to all said that things were better back then.) I told him that I don’t endorse the state or state power, and I definitely don’t endorse Stalinism or Leninism; rather, what I want is a paradigm shift and all I feel I can do right now is to give people a glimpse into an alternative that they might not have known to exist. I conduct my life and relationships, to the best of my ability, in the same way that I want society to function in the future. The rest I can’t say for sure.

The sixth was a kid who’d moved to Pasadena from Brooklyn to go to music school. He liked my sign, but he was more interested in knowing where the cheap eats were and where he might get some pot. I was able to help him with the former.

All in all, a great experience. I think I’ll be doing this sort of thing more often. It’s exhilarating to put yourself out there so honestly like that, you know? And I think it’s really that raw honesty that makes passer-by uncomfortable, no matter what kind of person is holding the sign. Ask for money with a GoFundMe, and you’ll get it. Ask for money on a street corner with a piece of cardboard and you’ll get folks holding their breath and looking at their feet as they pass you.

All in all, it was a tremendous moment for modern environmentalism, but it remains to be seen whether we can maintain enough momentum to keep the heat on politicians and business. I’m both optimistic and very doubtful that this will bring about any of the needed changes, especially as the march itself was sponsored by 350.org, an organization that makes no mention of capitalism anywhere on it’s site, instead placing the blame for our predicament almost squarely on the fossil fuel industry.

This is their “solution”:

We have the solutions to solve the climate crisis. Businesses and innovators around the world have developed renewable energy technologies, including everything from huge solar mirrors, new efficient wind turbines, and jet fuel made from rapidly growing algae.

Cities and communities across the planet are leading the fight against climate change, from keeping waste out of landfills to stop methane emissions to making government buildings more efficient.

Independent studies show that in the United States a sustained investment of public and private dollars in clean energy would generate 1.7 million new jobs in industries like construction for making homes and office buildings more efficient with new windows, lighting and cooling systems — and in manufacturing of solar panels, wind turbines, and electric vehicles.

Clean, renewable energy is a bright spot in the global economy. This industry is a success story that has resulted in job creation, scientific innovation, cleaner air, and a stronger manufacturing sector. When we invest in clean energy, we invest in a safer future, and we keep our money and jobs in our communities rather than padding the pockets of Big Oil.

Disappointing, to say the least.  At least, it seemed, many of the individual protesters had the right idea.

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