Here’s the battle plan we promised—a few hours late, because it’s been a big job wrapping up phase one of this campaign.
By now you know what you accomplished: 1,253 arrests, according to some journalists the biggest civil disobedience action since 1977, and the most sustained since the epic campaigns of the civil rights movement. That was enough to take a regional issue and make it a national and even global one (many thanks to our friends, who picketed American and Canadian embassies on every continent).
Together you managed to make this central environmental test for the administration, and to inform everyone who’s paying attention that Barack Obama will get to make the call by himself, without Congress in the way. In other words, you’ve laid the groundwork for a mighty victory—now we have to make it pay off.
Here’s the plan:
Our main efforts will be to keep the focus on the White House, even as we engage the State Department review process and other technical aspects of the debate. We don’t want the President to be able to hide from the decisions he’s making.
And we’re not going to do him the favor of attacking him. Instead, we’re going to pay him the dangerous compliment of taking his words from 2008 seriously. Just to remind you, here are two of the many pledges he made while he was inspiring so many of us to knock on doors and send in donations in 2008:
“Let’s be the generation that finally frees America from the tyranny of oil”
“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.”
We’re still planning something big for October 7th or 8th – the 7th is the date of the last State Department hearing in Washington, DC – but first we need to go back into our communities to keep building this movement. The White House is going to be watching to see if our sit-in was an isolated incident or whether there really is a movement of people across this country rising up to stop the pipeline.
First, we need to tell the story of what just happened in Washington by meeting with folks in our communities to talk about our experiences. This could be as simple as a small gathering in your home, or as elaborate as you’d like. Your story is the most powerful tool you have to keep building this movement. A few of our organizers got together to make a PowerPoint slideshow that you can use in a meetup, and if you’d like to host an event in your community to spread the word, sign up here: https://www.tarsandsaction.org/
Second, all around the country, people will be going to Obama campaign offices in polite but firm fashion to remind him that we took him seriously—that he shouldn’t have said it if he didn’t mean it. Watch this video that just arrived from Seattle to get a sense of what we have in mind. We’ll be trying to coordinate this work from city to city—if you’re willing to help in your town, and are certain you can deliver a calm, stern message, sign up here: https://www.tarsandsaction.org/
That’s our plan for now. I want to make sure that we use this opportunity to strengthen our connections with each other, and make this a true movement. This is your opportunity to start taking a leadership role in this campaign.
We’ll be giving you updates on plans for the 7th of course, and letting you know what’s up. We have no guarantee we’ll succeed, but thanks to you this fight is very much on!
-Bill McKibben for tarsandsaction.org
PS – We’re very aware that the federal government has scheduled the hearing on the 7th for Yom Kippur. With whatever action we take, we will make sure our Jewish brothers and sisters will be able to join us.