“Because if we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children … this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.”
Do you know who said that quote? I’ll tell you at the end of this blog post.***
Despite a mini tornado and a hurricane that took out trees and power on my block twice in one week, I got to do something for my summer vacation that I had been determined to do: participate in the largest national act of environmental civil disobedience in decades.
On the last day of August, I finally made it to Washington DC along with four other fearless friends from my community. We got there the night before the action so that we could participate in a special training provided by the Tar Sands Action team, Ruckus and other groups. Folks who had been arrested in previous day’s actions were there to share their experience. We role played every step of what the action and the arrest would be like. We also learned more specifics about the issues related to the Tar Sands and the Pipeline.
One piece of info I did not know about was the impact that this pipeline will have on water. Because it takes 4 tons of tar sands earth to make one barrel of oil, lots of water is needed to boil this gunk to help extract the oil. The 2100 mile long pipeline is set to travel through the the Ogallala aquifer, a source of irrigation water for 30% of all the food we eat. More info about the Tar Sands and the Pipeline can be found here.
I was inspired and impressed with the diversity of folks who had traveled from all four corners of our country to risk arrest in this action. The ages ranged from 19 to 83. Like me, they felt that petitions and phone calls were not creating enough meaningful change. Most of us had voted for Mr.Obama, and we all felt that this next step, resisting arrest, was worth it to help President Obama to do the right thing and say “no” to this pipeline.
The next morning, I woke up quite nervous. In the pit of my stomach, I was queasy at the thought of breaking the law and being arrested. By the time we showed up at Lafayette Park, across from the White House, quite a large group had gathered. There were many there to support those of us risking arrest. I met an eco-theologian who lived nearby and came each day to support the protesters and a concerned grandma who handed out bags of home made cookies as her way to support us.
You’re allowed to walk on the sidewalk in front of the White House. You are not allowed to stop or to sit. We were given three warnings and then we were put under arrest. I was one of 111 people arrested on the last day of August. All in all 1,253 people were arrested in the two weeks of this act of civil disobedience.
It was a powerful experience to be arrested, to make a point, to say that our dependence on fossil fuels is destorying our planet and leaving our kids and grandkids with a mess they will inherit long after the rest of us are dead.
I will continue to pressure President Obama to be the climate leader I helped to elect in 2008. To learn more about what you can do, I urge you to visit Tar Sands Action.
***It was Barack Obama who said the words at the top of this post. In June 2008