I traveled with a group of about 80 people from the Kansas- Missouri area on a bus (26 hours one way, blech) to New York about three weeks ago. Though the trip was long, and the time spent in New York City (less than 10 hours) was short, the New York City March on Climate Change showed a myriad of different types of people. 400,000 inspired people showed up, some from as far as the West Coast, all for the same cause: to bring awareness to a growing problem- arguably the growing problem- and inspire others to do the same.
For the most part, I feel that we, the protesters at the largest climate rally in the world to date, did quite a swell job bringing awareness to this issue. It is hard to ignore 400,000 people flooding the streets of downtown New York City, after all.
The awareness was certainly not where we fell short: it was the inspiration portion of the protest that ran into problems.
I think environmentalists are naturally abrasive, controversial and excitable people; otherwise we wouldn’t very well support the things that we support. Unfortunately, this type of personality can be off-putting to others who do not share the same sense of urgency or belief in the cause. This is often where the gap lies: the gap which needs to be bridged.
I encountered first hand the type of problem that I am describing while at the March.
One of the many groups of people who attended the March was a group that I will kindly refer to as The Vegans. They were not Some Vegans, or a Group of Vegans, but The Vegans.
There’s a joke that goes “how do you know if someone is a vegan? Don’t worry, they’ll tell you.”
This is slightly maddening and only a little true, I had once thought. The only vegans I had ever met were very nice people! I had never personally met those vegans until the New York City March on Climate Change.
These vegans made signs claiming that environmentalist’s had a lack of commitment if they still ate any animal by-product, they yelled out incredible statistics about the amount of CO2 which is emitted by livestock and even argued with fellow protesters while we marched. They were almost comical in their attempt to accost a couple from the group I was marching with: they pranced around us, back and forth, waving their signs and yelling “livestock contributes x amount of tons of CO2 to the atmosphere in their poop alone. YOU don’t produce that much CO2, do you?”
Other than the obvious flaw in comparing an entire population of livestock to a single person, I realized something else very important that day about the environmentalist movement.
Being abrasive will not get someone on the fence to agree with you. Unless The Vegans idea was the exact opposite of what they said, I feel like they failed extraordinarily at converting a group of 400,000 people to veganism. And not just any group of 400,000 people, but a group of relatively radical and young environmentalists.
Reaching out to those who don’t share the same vigor for the cause seems to be where the environmentalist movement has fallen short. We need ambassadors to the people, representatives even, who are able to make the movement accessible and less ideologically intimidating than a bunch of vegans dancing around with signs telling you that you aren’t good enough.
Join Missouri River Relief at The Blue Note in Columbia THIS SATURDAY, 2-6 P.M. as they kick off another year of river clean-up and education with a showing of select films from the travelling Wild & Scenic Film Festival. Films to open your eyes and stimulate your mind.
Films like this:
Africa Revolutions Tour
Journey with seven longtime friends to discover and explore the rivers of Southern Africa. Along their adventure the team works closely with the Sun Catchers Project, bringing solar cooking ovens and water purification into communities in Africa.
Tickets are $8, but students get a $2 discount with their I.D.!
1 p.m. – Doors open at the Blue Note
2 p.m. – Films begin (General Admission Seating)
3:15 p.m. – Intermission
5 p.m. – Social hour and Silent Auction!
9 p.m. – Come back to the Blue Note with your Wild & Scenic ticket stub for free admission to One More Round – a really great Johnny Cash cover band from St. Lou!
Click here to RSVP on Facebook, then invite your friends!
Sustain Mizzou member Ellen Thommesen arranged this striking photograph illustrating possible effects of hydraulic fracking. Check out her blog to learn more about the photography and idea behind it:
via Ellen Marie
Read more news from the New York Times:
In anticipation of the Academy Awards, the Environmental Reading and Media Group watched the 40-minute documentary “The Warriors of Qiugang.” This Oscar-nominated film was co-produced by Yale Environment 360 with filmmakers Ruby Yang and Thomas Lennon, who have made a trilogy of short films set in China — the first of which, “The Blood of Yingzhou District,” won the 2006 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short. Continue reading Reading Group watches “The Warriors of Qiugang”
Along with everyone who has a firm grasp on the obvious, I have realized the momentous date of October 10, 2010 has come and gone. Celebrities (such as Ellen Page), organizations, and just plain old regular bums much like ourselves pledged earlier in the month to work towards climate change on 10/10/10… but did the expectations intersect with reality?
188 countries participated in over 7,000 sustainable events through 350.org, a global campaign striving to unite people under the quest to address the climate crisis. Common success stories of the “global work day” include installing solar panels, tree planting, and litter pick-up.
350.org founder Bill McKibben stated, “People are discouraged [by the lack of progress] but they are taking out their frustrations in action. They have decided that we are going to have to show our leaders what leadership looks like.” Activists hope to create awareness for the impending United Nations summit on climate change on Nov. 29 in Cancun, Mexico.
Check out photos of 10/10/10 actions here
I’m pretty sure there was once a wise man, and he must have at some point said, “You can’t change the everything, but you can change something.”
Well, if there wasn’t person who once said that, there should have been, as it is obvious. We face problems everyday, ranging from personal relationships to global issues. The idea of saving all the worlds problems is nice in theory, but impossible in practice.
I had a discussion with my roommate a few weeks ago after he watched a documentary called “The Cove”. He was shocked by the documentary (I haven’t seen it, but I heard it was quite gruesome), and also a little distraught. He claims that he hasn’t contributed anything to making society better.
I’ve had a theory about change — it doesn’t take a lot to do a lot. I don’t consider myself an activist, but I do believe there are things, which I can and do contribute to. Ultimately, you have to pick your causes, and do what you can.
Fair trade is one of these causes I try to maintain. Supporting my local community is another. Can I do both at the same time? Why yes, just by buying coffee.
In my future blog posts I aim to investigate these two elements further. Fair trade is really just a phrase for a particular financial relationship, but for me, it represents what we should have in all relationships: fair play for all parties.
That’s all for this week. In the mean time, check out this cool site called justcoffee.