Thursday, September 25, 2014

Street Clashes and Seed Bombs from Bike Bloc to Flood Wall Street, the Bendy Tree and Other Adventures While Lighting up the UN, Riding to and from Mayday and the People’s Climate March

I was never a big fan of convergence weekends of actions.  Local community
organizing seemed more important.  And that most certainly is still the case.
But there are times when we need to amp it up, connecting local with global
movements, and collectively showing the world what needs to be done. 

I have a vivid memory of Monica leading us on a cold February ride with the Occupy Wall Street Sustainably Committee, collaborating with several garden and cycling groups.  We rode from Zuccotti Park up through some vacant lots throughout the Lower East Side.  Borrowing a page from the Green Guerillas, we spent the ride throwing Seed Bombs into the lots.  Falling, each seed clashed on the ground, colliding with the dirt while laying the groundwork for a new community garden and by extension a different way of looking at the world.  Each offered a new possibly for a spring which just might sprout something wonderful.  Taking part, we were all invited to see urban lots as green spaces and the city as a sustainable space capable of regenerating itself.  Of course, many of these seeds were dislodged from their roots and the earth the following fall when the waves of Hurricane Sandy crashed over the shore.  That’s part of why so many of us, some 400,000 or so were inspired to march last weekend. 

The same feeling, this same urgency, this same hope brought us to the People’s Climate March.  Throughout, we’d see dinosaurs and swordfish bikes, flooding bodies and bouncing globes, tumbling trees, clashing forces and melting statues, crashing bodies, colliding and creating something new.

I got involved in the organizing for the event only a few days after returning from our summer romp through Spainattending meeting after meeting, making banner after banner, prop after banner after banner, prop after prop.

A few days before the march, Monica posted a message on facebook:

We are almost finished with BP Rex! Join the Bike Bloc at People's Climate March this Sunday and ride with the dinosaur, oil pipeline-piercing swordfish bikes, caterpillar tall bikes, pedicabs, battle wagon and more!

Top of Form

For weeks, we’d been making banners and props for the Bike Bloc.

I’d see countless faces from activism from the Lower East Sde Squatter Movement, More Gardens, Church of Stop Shopping, LESC, Ruckus, Arts and Revolution, and Occupy.  Walkng into the space, it was kindov like the old Charas El Bohio. 

We held our last full planning meeting Tuesday night before the big march, talking into the night about our plans, revolutions, poetry, marching, banners, let downs, frustrations, and the hopes for creating something new of this wreck of a planet we call our home.

That Frday, we’d all take part n the "Light Up The Future Bike Ride" meeting at Tompkins Square Park at east 7th st, between Ave A and B in the Lower East Side.
7pm- decorate your bike with LED string lights *Bring your own light bling too because we may not have enough for everyone!
8pm- ride leaves.
Thousands of people are preparing for the People's Climate March in NYC. Let's light the path for them. Join us for a bike bloc training, bike decorating and illuminated night ride two days before the march to spread the word and prepare for the largest climate march in history! 6pm- 7pm- training -know your rights as a cyclist -how to ride in a group -bike choreography (important if you want to be part of the more elaborate art bike structures in march…Light Up the Future Bike Ride into Manhattan calling for a fossil-free future! Join us for the training and then bring all your friends to ride in the march with us to celebrate carbon- free transportation! People's Climate March September 21st at 74th st and Central Park West Bike Bloc meets at 10:30am in "Solutions" section of march (towards middle)……. The revolution will not be motorized. See you in the streets!
Friends from all over the city, including out of town comrade Marc Herbst, were there.

Walkng through the early evening light, Reverend Billy dropped by to gave an homily for the old Bendy Tree, then scheduled to be cut down by the parks department.

“Bikealujia!” Billy screamed to start his sermon.
“We know this tree s 130 years old. Its seen a lot, traveled along the ground, and today points at Charlie Parker’s old apartment on 155 Ave B,” the good rev explained. “It may be like the doctor who says you have a year two years and you live 20 more years…. A woman walked up to me the other day and reminded me of the story of the Ann Frank Tree, which was honored, and allowed to live out her final days. We can move beyond something brutal and find a way” the reverend explained.  The crowd was straying. He wandered off track and then looked up, confessing to be drunk like the old days of his shows, when he reveled in the limits of shopping and his love of the city, of the Christy Turlington adds on the subway, as well as his indulgences in her temptations. But this time.
“Oh, you guys, you’ve have had to listen to me all of these years,” he reflected, lookng full of a bit of regret and self consciousness.
“This trees seen a lot.  It was here in 1974 when I lived here.  And its here now.  And we gotta save it.”

Top the Christy_Turlington_Id_rather_go_naked_than_wear_fur add the reverend used to preach about,
bottom the Ann Frank tree. 

He walked away, his silhouette in the sundown.

I walked him back, thanking him for his homily.

After the reverend finished, we worked on chants.

photos Stacy Lanyon

And gradually, rode up to the UN, dancing along the way.

 When we got there, it looked like the illuminator had already arrived, beaming messages on the UN. 
We posted with our banners and danced a bit, before riding back to Brooklyn to see iris’ show and some of the sculpture for the march the next Sunday, chatting all the way.
The ride like so much of the night was so much fun.  

Up to the last minute, we were looking and making supplies, running all over town, posting notes everywhere on fb, looking for people to lend us their tandem bikes.   The one tandem we had was locked up, while the owner was out of town.  So, we had to scramble.  Amidst the scrambling the reverend called to tell me the parks department was cutting the tree down today.   

photo of the death of the bendy tree by the village voice. 

By the end of the day, the tree was gone.

Talen, who was arrested defendng the tree, later mused:

Bendy taught me that Earth politics is local. The day before the march we got this email from Laurie Mittelman at the Reclaimed Urban Space museum that the chain saw guys from the city were at the tree.  I got there as fast as I could.  I'm trying to learn radical love for life so that my activism is appropriate.  I've got to feel life in a tree and get my instruction from it, to be a fool. To shout "Today is a good day to be embarrassed."   and jump into government and corporate machinery.  Reach the cops, the bankers, the killers.  We couldn't defend Bendy but we can learn from her.

We learned a lot from her.  The whole weekend would be about those lessons.  

Amidst this, we got a call that an old Times Up! buddy that he had a tandem we could use.
He was Greenpoint. So,I rode there.  Got the bike and back to the convergence space on Star in Bushwick, where the energy at the space was  reaching a crescendo.  We’d spend the afternoon working on the limo, painting, stepping over activists popping into town from Germany, the West Coast, and other parts unknown.

My old buddy LAK dropped by to help us paint and decorate the SUV bike we were makng.  

The next day was the parade and a talk at the Brooklyn Book fair, scheduled months before. 
So Larry and myself, prepared and made our way. Appropriately, the talk concerned the commons. 

Planning and Protesting: Cities Evolve!

Brooklyn Law School Moot Courtroom 
Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014 

With the city constantly evolving, each major project has its supporters and protesters. Authors Gregory Smithsimon and Benjamin Shepard (The Beach Beneath The Streets - Contesting New York City’s Public Spaces) and Daniel Campo (The Accidental Playground: Brooklyn Waterfront Narratives of the Undesigned and Unplanned) andPeter Linebaugh (Stop, Thief! The Commons, Enclosures, and Resistance) discuss how public space is shaped through policy, perspective and protests, how to agree to disagree, and the dynamics of shaping a city’s growth and change. Moderator David Reiss, Professor, Brooklyn Law School.

Prof Reiss set the tone for our talk invoking the Magna Carta.  

Peter Linebaugh expanded on this notion of the Magna Carta as commons. He wrote:
 In one of his communiqués from the Lancandon jungle of Chiapas Subcomandante Marcos, the spokesman of the Zapatista indigenous people’s revolt that burst upon the world in 1994, referred, of all things, to the Magna Carta. Why the Magna Carta, an eight-hundred-year-old document from Medieval England?

Marcos went on to describe how the ejido, or traditional commons of Mexico enshrined in the national constitution, is being destroyed. He invoked the Magna Carta not only to assert the protections against state power that we associate with this famous English document, but to emphasize the right of people to claim common resources as well.

For eight centuries, the Magna Carta has been venerated for its establishment of political and legal rights. The Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution quote its language. Eleanor Roosevelt in her 1948 speech to the UN urging adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, expressed the hope that it would take its place alongside the Magna Carta and the U.S. Bill of Rights. The document has been deemed the foundation of Western democracy and invoked by many, including Winston Churchill, to glorify Anglo-American world dominance and empire building.

There is, I believe, a narrow conservative interpretation of the Magna Carta that stresses “freedom under law,” and a more radical interpretation that establishes the commons and protects the rights of the poor to use it to earn their own livings. belonged to the commoners, and the trees to both. Grazing and hunting, gathering wood for fuel and construction, and picking berries and medicinal plants all sustained country people, especially the poor and widows, who had few other means of support. 
Dan  Campo followed, describing the Brooklyn Waterfront as a commons for art, music, and conviviality.

Greg Smithsimon discussed the ways we think about the public space as a commons.   He suggested we consider the ways publc space expand and contract with movements from Occupy to the People’s Climate March.  “I -- for one, [am] hopeful that it will be different than the 2003 anti war rally, and optimistic that we're putting the politics of BLoomberg and Giuliani aside for now.” 

Last, I followed highlighting a few images of access to public space this year:
            A group of kids on a subway arrested for performing.
            A woman arrested while standing on a sidewalk waitng for her son.
            A man arrested for lewdness at a naked bike ride in the west Village.
            An African American man killed by the NYPD after selling “untaxed” cigarettes.
            A mass climate rallys pushed to end at the West periphery of the city instead of in the center of town.     

These are some of the sites and struggles, over the contested use and restrictions on public space in New York this year. Here, activists and police step forward and backward in an ongoing dance of the dialectic between repression and resistance, as advocates of social control vie with supporters of fun, freedom of expression, and democratic interaction.

Recent years have witnessed a great contraction with access to public space increasingly filtered. 
New York seems to have lost  a great deal of ground in terms of access to public space.
Look no further than Paris, where on a recent trip, we saw people hang out at all hours of the night, watching the sunset with a glass of wine, stroll to a sex shop, and take park in a Critical Mass Ride – all things now restricted and hyper controlled by NYC.
Comparatively, New York seems a paragon of puritanical zeal, full of restrictions on usage.
Yet, for every Comstock or Giuliani that the city creates, another advocate for public space pushes back putting a little joy into struggles for social justice, as the tension between exclusion and inclusion continue.
Today, a range of movements are organized around notions of public space, as people push back to reclaim the commons.
Why is the public commons important?                                                             
First, because without access to public space, questions about democracy basically go out the door.
Second, without it we see the social imagination restricted.  We forget about creating public art, be ins, or making music together as they do in the streets of Paris.  Without the commons, our imagination is restricted, cordoned off just like the streets of our increasingly blandified cites.
Its worth watching today to see how the new urban regime treats questions about access to public space.  Without it, we are left without free form spaces outside the glare of the panopticon, the surveillance of the internet, and the containments of capitalism.

Toward the end of the sesson, a man asked us what we would do make New York a better place.
Get cops out of bike lanes, I retorted, summarizing the simple argument that bikes make cities better places, pointng us toward a more sustainable future wthout cars .  We don’t  need container laws either.  What we really need to do is rethink downtown Brooklyn’s zoning, scale, and plans for future development, rethink Jay Streeti concluded, referring to a sesson we're holdng at my college on 
October 7th. 

Finishng the talk, i made my way to the march. The train ride over was teeming with families, hundreds and hundreds of folks makng their way up to Central Park West and 74th for the rally. 

Walkng out of the train car, I started to see that this action was going to be far larger than anything else I’ve seen in New York.  The exit at 72nd street was closed.  So, the thousands of us on the train made our way to 70th street.  Getting out of the station took a half hour.

“The organizers did not plan this well,” complained one elder woman, crammed ahead of me, as we made our way up, through the congested sdwalks up to 74th. “This is all their fault.”
“Maybe the problem is with all these barricades?” I chimed in.
“Stop trying to blame the police!”

Eventually, thankfully, I made it up to the bike bloc at 74th street, where we were converging.

We were all part of the
-"Possibility Bike Parade" in People's Climate March Sep 21, 10:30am
meeting at 
Central Park West between 74th and 75th streets. 

The facebook invite noted:
Meet at 10:30am to get all decked out in our bike decorations!
-Feel free to bring out your unicycles, tall bikes, tandems, mutant bikes on the march!


“Whenever I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race.”
—H.G. Wells

OUR MISSION- Bike Bloc is an open group dedicated to creating a massive bicycle presence on the march and in the streets during the weeks of action.
We acknowledge that changing one's personal carbon footprint isn't enough to combat climate change, so we use our bicycle mass of people-powered transportation as a physical demonstration of our commitment to fight against the fossil fuel industry and to demand clean renewable energy. 
We hope to engage the larger cycling community in a conversation about climate justice and to see biking as a step towards deeper investment in fighting the global crisis with people power.

Why Bikes?
Bicycles have been vital resources in the climate justice movement in New York City as clean, healthy sustainable transportation, as energy generation in Occupy Wall Street and cargo as they were used in In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy for cell phone charging and carrying food and supplies out to devastated areas when cars were not viable. Also, bicycles are celebratory vehicles for liberating and enjoying public space. Other countries such as Holland and Germany are reliant on bicycles for transportation to make their cities more livable and breathable. We want to encourage the use of bikes as part of our fight for climate justice here in congested, crammed New York City!

The Possibility Bike Parade!
Our Possibility Bike Parade will include a wide array of bicycles expressing the ingenuity, creativity and power of grassroots organizing. We invite cyclists to join the parade chasing down a massive dinosaur skeleton float up in "flames"- representing the toppling of fossil fuel industry. The mass of bicyclists will win the day! 

Here are some of the ways bikes will be part of the People's Climate March:
- bike trailer platforms will transport some larger floats
- Pedicabs can carry folks who may not be able to walk in the march
- we are building bikes that can be used after the march is over
- we are building bikes with youth so they develop the skills of building and have their own bikes
- we are transporting sound systems to play music
- we will ride a roving hydration station carrying water and some supplies to keep marchers healthy and hydrated
- we are accepting donations of bikes to loan to out-of -towners to help them move around the city for free

- Get more people on bikes
- Limit use of fossil fuels in march by providing bicycle power wherever possible
- Engage larger cycling community in climate justice
- Promote idea of bikes being agents of change against climate change- helpful during climate disasters, livable, less congested streets, building community, power generator
- Show people what NYC bike community can do; and grassroots community

Ongoing Impact:
The project will continue after the PCM, including:
- more bicycles and cargo bikes built to distribute to NYC community and be used by Cargo Bike Collective in their mission to replace truck delivery
- sound bike and trailers will continue to be used in climate justice actions by Public Space Party, Cargo Bike Collective and shared with other organizations for events
- relationships and structures in place to build more bikes for and with youth

Organizing Team: 
Public Space Party and Cargo Bike Collective

Get involved:
Twitter: @bikeblocNYC

Why a Bike Block?  Why Are We Here?
Today we are adapting to rising seas with solutionary cycling for climate health.

Why Bikes?
• Clean, healthy sustainable ‘decarbonized’ transportation
• Low-cost, socially equitable resource for the climate justice movement
• Overcome congestion, pollution and heat island effects
• Convivial and celebratory means of enjoying public space and building community
• Great for emergency delivery of relief supplies, food and water and for charging phones
• Accessible to innovation, such as energy generation in Occupy Wall Street and post Sandy blackout.
In short, Bikes are Solutionary!
• De’car’bonation on two wheels

Let's ride together and make everyday cycling a reality for every New Yorker!  Human Power is the most sustainable energy, and bicycles are truly a great vehicle for social change. Let’s make all streets inviting and welcoming.  Our streets, our climate, our future!

Why a Drtyfuelesaurus?
Dirtyfuelosaurus reminds us to move away from Fossil Fuels.  reduce greenhouse gases and fight climate change.  

Why Ride with Swordfsh?
Swordfish are nature’s pipeline predators. They have been known to pierce through pipelines deep under the sea. They travel in schools and take direct action together.
·        We we are cycling with fossil fuel disruptors
·        Silvery, strong  and swift, cycling is an everyday energy action.

Why Fun and Sustainability
Because we must have fun while we are fighting for a carbon free future.
And bikes are part of that solution.
Put the fun between your legs and rde.
Bikes are fun and clean!
The revolution will not be motorized.
Bikes – Vehicles for Social Change

Chant ideas:

More fun, Less Carbon
Cycles as solutions
Bike for fun, for your future.

Love s the answer, stop buying stuff.

Whose streets, Our streets
Whose climate Our climate
Whose future, our future

More bikes
Less cars

Whose streets?
Our streets!
Whose climate?
Our climate?
Whose future?
One future!

To tune of row your boat:
Ride ride ride your bike
Gently down the lane
Merrily merrily merrily merrily
Make the system change

1 we are the people
2 we are united
3 we are gonna bring climate justice

Ain't no power like the power of the sun cuz the power of the sun don't stop!
Say what?
Ant no power like the power of the sun cuz the power of the sun don't stop!

Gonna beat back that frack attack
Gonna beat beat back that frack attack!

After all that work, putting together signs, props, and messagng, it felt so lovely to finally be here, on the march, smiling, laughing with my friends, screaming out to the world and history that we were here, hundreds and hundreds, thousands of us were here to speak out and be heard, and hear each other.  Larry and Monica snapped some shots as we hung out. 

The moment of silence and scream was actually very very moving.  it seemed to speak to a collective anxiety many of us feel about the devastating changing nature of our climate. 
Instead of the cold war anxieties about the world destroying itself with a nuclear holocaust, which was my fear as a child growing up, my kids fear for their future, for the future of the world as result of climate change.

“You don’t want to scare them,” my friend Anna chimed in after I told her that. “At school we talk about the idea of the commons, the school as a commons, with pencils, desks, and the rest as part of that.  Its all part of that. Once, they understand the school as a commons to be taken care of, its not a stretch to think of the planet in the same way.”

There were so many of those lovely conversations during the day.

As the ride was about to start, we broke out with our second banner.

“Put the Fun between Your Legs!”

“You have to remind people its about bikes,” noted one of my friends. “its not just about putting the fun between your legs.”

“OK, OK, but we are the bike bloc.”

Most of the people were remarkably convivial in the bike bloc.

 I rode the limo wth my friend LM Bogad, aka Chickie Bogad.

Photo of the swordfish and the BP reps who rode an SUV.
photo by barbara ross

Talkng wth people, we did our best vaudeville routine, joking, 
we added a street clash of ideas as we recited BP talking points:
“The science is not really out on this yet.”
“There’s no consensus.”
“We’re doing a lot to help the world.”
“Those science papers are too long to read.”
“Do you guys have any AC? Its getting hot in here.”
“How well do you tread water?”

People groaned and smiled, and countered seemingly enjoying an opportunity to talk back to the aunt or cousin in their family who gives them those lines in the face of the conclusive data on the subject.  Some kids blocked us, along the way.

bottom two photos by Stacy Lanyon

 September 21 at 7:03pm,  Larry Bogad, framed our day in 
tragicomic terms:
310,000 marchers in nyc calling for action on climate disaster . Well organized , thoughtfully choreographed, with many sectors and sects and sexes represented. Now I am co-artist in residence with Adam Horowitz at the foot of an ice sculpture at the flatiron building . The melting letters spell THE FUTURE and we are watching the letters melt before our eyes. I reflect on a day spent in the key of clown, in the mode of satire. I co-rode a tandem bike tricked out as a BP SUV...repeating over and over again the oil-slick sound bites of the corporate climate chaoticists...many laughed , smirked , or played along with the joke and added their own material to the shtick. Our purpose was to entertain the troops and put some surprise and play into the space. And yet after five hours of that shtick, now reflecting and watching these letters melt away...there is sadness mixed into the cocktail. From inside the SUV, I proposed to protesters, "it'll be okay, we have a plan: we're offering swimming lessons to all our customers." "Peer review, schmear review, the science is still up in the air...embrace the mystery of climate change, who knows what's causing it?" And "just turn up the a/c"...the truth is this silliness isn't that far from the actual sound bites of the profiteers and their hirelings...
The struggle continues. This was a good day. Onward. ‪#‎ligoranoreese, ‪#‎publicart, ‪#‎PeoplesClimate, ‪#‎globalwarming, ‪#‎Sept21, #350, @meltedaway, @lmbogad

Photo of melting ice sculpture of the future.
by LM Bogad

By the end of the day, we saw people from all my worlds of activism, speaking out, supporting ths desperate plea for the world to handle the crisis instead of dragging itself down through a slow suicide, as the seas slowly die, Antarctica melts, and the tides rise.

People from all over New York and the World participated.

My friends from VOCAL took part, explaining:
On Sunday we joined hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers and people across the world in a historic march to demand action to stop climate change and hold those accountable who put profits over our lives. And boy did they hear us!
“The climate is changing,” said Otis Daniels, 58, of the Bronx. “Everyone knows it; everyone feels it. But no one is doing anything about it.” The Boston Globe.
When asked why an organization comprised of people impacted by (and fighting to end) the AIDS epidemic, drug war, and mass incarceration were chanting for climate justice, the answers were obvious. First, we are more than people living with AIDS, people with a history of drug use and incarceration. We are people fighting for a just world, safe and healthy for ourselves, our families, and our neighbors. Just as we joined the fight for a fair economy where the 1% and big corporations pay their fair share of taxes to support education, healthcare, and so much more, we have joined the fight to save our planet.

Second, we are carrying on the tradition of AIDS activism. Just as ACT UP made the connections between corporate profits at the expense of people’s lives when they took over the Wall Street Stock Exchange in 1987, or denounced the war in Iraq when they disrupted a live news broadcast and demanded “money for AIDS not for war,” we are committed to exposing the connections between unjust policies and uncompassionate politics.

Last, we know better than most how to fight for our lives, and the lives of millions of others. It is what we did when our government, and governments across the globe ignored us as we fought to stay alive during the height of the AIDS epidemic, until we forced them to open their eyes and take action. And it is what we will do now.
- VOCAL New York Family

Ricken Patel, of Avaaz, blasted out a note declaring: 
“WE DID IT!! Largest. Climate. March. In History.”

Dear amazing Avaazers, 

Months ago, our community decided on a crazy goal - the largest mobilisation on climate change in history. Yesterday, we blew past our wildest expectations, with a climate march *6 times* the size of anything before it!!! This was 80 city blocks of New York

And this was London, Berlin, Bogota, Paris, Delhi, and Melbourne...

Over 675,000 of us marched around the world. It was a beautiful expression of our love for all that climate change threatens, and our hope that we can save this world and build a society powered by 100% safe, clean energy.  Together, we made history, but it's just the beginning. The crucial Paris climate summit is 15 months from now -- that's where we need a global deal. By March next year, countries have pledged to make their national commitments -- so our movement will divide to focus on these national targets. But every few months until Paris we'll come together globally again and again, bigger and bigger, to beat a drum for change, for 100% clean energy, that our leaders can only follow. The movement we've been waiting for has begun.

With gratitude,

Ricken, Emma, Alice, Iain, Nataliya, Patri, Oliver, Diego, Rewan and the whole Avaaz team

PS - We worked with thousands of organizations to make this day happen and particularly love our friends at 350. But our community deserves to celebrate the step we've taken. The Avaaz team and community played a central role in almost all the marches and events held. The Guardian called it "an organising triumph" for Avaaz and the BBC said "the marches brought more people on to the streets than ever before, thanks to the organisational power of the social media site Avaaz." We fielded hundreds of organisers and thousands of volunteers, and donations from our community provided millions in funding to the effort. The challenges of our time call us to be better, and together we've done that, growing and changing into a new and more effective kind of movement, a movement that is now both online, and offline. Huge gratitude to everyone who made it happen.

By the next day, more and more people seemed interested in naming the system which seemed to produce this problem.  Such thinkng offers a maturing point for movements. On April 17, 1965, Paul Potter named the system which he argued supported the war in Viet Nam. 
We must name that system. We must name it, describe it, analyze it, understand it and change it. For it is only when that system is changed and brought under control that there can be any hope for stopping the forces that create a war in Vietnam today or a murder in the South tomorrow or all the incalculable, innumerable more subtle atrocities that are worked on people all over—all the time.
Five decades later, actvsts wore t-shirts declaring “War is Not Green.”
And on September 22, 2014, actvsts would declare:
“Capitalism Equals the Climate Crisis.”

Flood, blockade, SIT-IN, and shut down the 
institutions that are profiting from the climate crisis. Wear Blue.
and SHARE!
9 AM - Gather @ Battery Park - Breakfast and 
Music from Rude Mechanical Orchestra, Cass 
McCombs, The Chapin Sisters, The Peace Poets, Alex Ebert and more...
9:30 AM - Speakers - including frontline 
community leaders of the Climate Justice 
Alliance, Naomi Klein, Rebecca Solnit and Chris Hedges, Ta'Kaiya Blaney
11 AM -- Nonviolent Direct Action Training & March
12 PM -- Flood Wall St. and mass Sit-in
On Monday, September 22  at 9:00 am, thousands of 
people will gather at Battery Park in Lower 
Manhattan to confront the root cause of the 
climate crisis – an economic system based on 
exploiting frontline communities, workers and 
natural resources. On the heels of the 
largest-ever march on climate change, we have an 
opportunity to transform the economic system driving this crisis.
Wearing blue to represent the sea that surrounds 
us, we rise to the steps of the NY Stock Exchange 
at 12:00 pm, flooding the area with our bodies in 
a massive sit-in – a collective act of nonviolent 
civil disobedience – to confront the system that 
both causes and profits from the crisis that is threatening humanity.
There is no time to waste – Wall Street must be 
transformed. Through the power of people taking 
collective action we will build an economy based 
on justice and sustainability and stop the climate crisis.
This call is in solidarity with the
Climate Justice Alliance Call To Action ( )
and part of the week of action for climate justice September 17-24, 2014
Ron, Larry and I met at Bowling Green to take part in the morning action. The left has its status system like every other group, full of leaders, rock star activists, and writers recognized as a sort of aristocracy.  Yet, for the most part this moment seemed beyond vanity and self promotion.  Full of hope, promise and fellow feeling, as activists from around the world worked to make sure multiple voices were included, we met to flood wall street.  While tensions between full time and part time activists are always part of the process, the good feelings of day before extended through the morning.  Ron and i 
walked over to Bowling Green.
“I love seeing the Statue of Liberty in the distance,” noted Ron, looking out at the harbor. 
“You’re not going to get those words on it today,” i followed.
“Give me your tired, your hungry, your huddled masses – no way.”

While the day before was blessedly, without speeches, this mornings session was full of them, mic checked, over three waves of barely audible voices, the converted preaching to the converted. 
“The time for speeches was yesterday,” explained Takaia Blaney, in the middle of her speech. “The time to act is today.”
“Climate change is already causing damages.  These criminal acts started a long time ago, from slavery to colonialism, destroying life.  Now its time to take back our power.”
“We are all victims of the same global model, in which energy plays a role” noted Elisa Estronioli.  “"There’s no clean energy in the capitalist system.”
Chris Hedges followed with a very short speech.
“On that Emerald City of Wall Street,
Wizards profit from the death of the people.
No one will stop them but the people.
This means revolution.”
The crowd roared.
“The planet is dying.  The time has come to act now” explained Miriam Miranda. 
Speaker after speaker described the impacts of climate change on their communities. Fishing holes drying up, polluted fish, and so on.
“We have a climate crisis of poverty and immigration,” noted Srijana Poudel, describing her experience in Nepal.  “We used to have clean water.  We don’t have it any more.  We cultivate our land but nothing grows, with local farming disappearing.  We believe in sustainable development, not destructive development.”

Monica Hunken and Lisa Fithian lead everyone in a review of the action scenario. 
“I want go over a plan,” explained Fithian. “When we are down here, we want to flow out and be a river.  We are all getting together.  There are three groups.  Starting with those willing to get arrested.
“We have three code words and signals,” explained Hunken.  “Surge, forward, and sit.  When you
 hear any of these you will move forward like a river into the street.”
We rehearsed surging, forward, sitting, and flowing like a river with our hands.
“That was perfect” Hunken complemented everyone with the human mic.

“We should keep coming down here,” Ron gushed, echoing his sentiment from three years prior that Bowling Green needs to be our Tahrir Square. “So thrilled to be down here taking part.”

“We may be seated for a while,” explained Fithian. “So move your arms like a storm.  
Once, we take our plan and storm through, we want to link our hearts together.  The flood is water in our bodies. The oil they are extracting is the blood of the earth. So when you 
hear an order to disperse, we flow again.  We’d invite you all to stay. We believe we will be facng minor charges.  This is a perfect action to join.”
“That’s a great invitation,” Ron chimed in with a smile. 
“We are just about to go,” Lisa explained.  Excitement filling the air. “Look at each other.  Listen for clues.”  
We look at each other.  Smile, excited to be dong this together, to be standing up together. 


Finishing the joyous training, Ron and I looked at each other and ran to the bathroom, an essential 
last stop before a civil disobedience action.  And met everyone on the way to the street.  The line of 
us was extending back deep into Bowling Green.  We talked with several friends and made our way 
up to Wall Street. 

Walking turned to running, on the street. Making our way through the traffic, we sprinted up 
Broadway, between tour buses.  
“Join us,” several college kids screamed.   
I ran into my old friend Kate Barnhart, a veteran of many, many similar actions, including a lifetime of ACT UP meetings, street zaps on Broadway, some of the first arrests over Amadou Diallo's murdeer at the hands of the NYPD, zaps at the US trade representative’s office, the board of education, etc. 

 Against traffic, running into friends, zigging and zagging between cars, we made our way past the bull, took a U turn and ran back around.  For a second, a memory of that first day of Occupy from three years ago, a scene of us all at the bull on September 17, 2011, flashed across my mind.  Was great to see the movement moving again. 

“Decolonize the water.
Decolonize the land
We’re changing up the system.
We’re changing up the plan,” we chanted.

Student groups were there, as were several in wheelchairs. 
Someone started to gesture for us to sit.  So we sat, occupying hub of the financial distract. 
“There are a lot of us here,” I nodded, looking around.  “A lot.”  
“2,600 of us,” one man explained standing behind me. 
And so we sat.  Some of us were bouncing the large carbon ball making its way through the crowd.   Others  unfurling a large, large banner over our heads. 

Adrenaline pumping through me, being part of such a movement moment can be incredibly powerful.  We stop beng just ourselves for a second, letting go of the ego and the self, joining the multitude. 
Ron and I were sitting with Kim from Occupy the Pipeline to our left, Kate, and an elder woman whose bust was in 1970 in 1970, the year after I was born.  She was still at it as i hope to be forty years from now. 
I looked at Ron, whose been an amazing friend for so many years.  We’ve been through book projects, interviews, kids, inauguration actions, imf actions, and even a bust at the Disney Store back in 1999.  Jason Grote, who was arrested with us that day, described Ron’s presence at that moment fifteen years ago as we sat chanting and waiting to get arrested. Fearing the police and the butterflies in his stomach, he wanted to go jump in the pile of stuff animals in the back of the store.  But instead of running, he looked at Hayduk.  “Without pause, he acknowledges me with a tiny nod and a sweet grin and hmy fear went away. For a brief moment, my fear is gone and I am swept away by an overwhelming sensation of peace.”
Such feelings are often ephemeral, but today, Ron still has that big smile and willingness to engage in direct action. 

 The police gave us a lot of rope, a lot, several of us conclude, looking around.  But the good feeling of the action is a movement building sensation. This social eros is expanding, growing as it has so many times before in the ebb and flow of social movements from Labor to Feminism, Civil Rights to ACT UP, Global Justice to Occupy. 

“Where are the police?” I ask. They are not coming.  In the Bloomberg and Giuliani years, the police would have had their plastic cuffs out already.  But instead we’re sitting holding the space. 
A younger woman talked with her mom.
Kate regaled us with stories about her adventures with the district attorney and the Board of Education, where on November 19, 1997, she and her friends once release condoms filled with helium, so they floated up the ceiling.  Her shortest bust was just a few hours, her longest was some sixty hours after the initial Amadou Diallo bust.  “They just arrested us again when we got out,” Kate explained with exasperation. 

Observing from the sidewalk, Leslie Kauffman, posted a note on facebook at

Huge, beautiful, festive street occupation underway on lower Broadway near Wall Street. This giant inflatable carbon bubble rolled over cars the whole way here until the police arrested it.

Ron got a call from Alex Vitale and Greg Smithsimon saying they were watching us on live stream.   Greg sends solidarity.

And we sat there. 
And we sat there.
Seth Tobocman, stood stoically. 
“We should just have an occupation here,” he explained.  He worked for countless hours with David Solnit to make the banners and props for the action. 
“We’re not disrupting anything,” one of my new friends lamented. 
“But this place is an echo chamber.  When you do an action well here, the whole world hears.  We’ve tried many times to stay here this long, rarely ever succeeding like this,” I explained, recalling the June 18, 1999 Reclaim the Streets Acton in which were arrested as we stepped off the curb at Zuccotti Park. 
“We’re blocking traffic up Broadway,” noted another observer from Occupy.  
An Occupy alert came through to my phone alerting the world.  “#Flood Wall Street is on!  Thousands are now on Broadway, which is shut down from Exchange Place to the Bull. We’re ordering pizza.  Stop by!”
The Rude Mechanical Orchestra was playing “We’re Not Gong to Take it”  and everyone started dancing. 

“Happy equinox,” mc checked one woman, pointing out that we were just entering this harvest holiday celebrating fall, as day and night stand equal, offering us a moment for gratitude and balance.  Perhaps, just perhaps our action was bringing some balance back to a crazy, hectic, mixed up world.

And finally, I felt like we’d made our point.  And Ron, Kate and I strolled off, having made our point. 
Walking up Broadway, the sit-in went on for block after block. Some were talking about moving up to Wall Street for the action. 

We chatted with Kaufman.  "its great to be able to collectively express ourselves wthout getting arrested or it being about the police," she gushed. Walking we
stumbled into another LESC veteran Steve Duncombe, who stood joking with the Yes Men. 

“I hate these big actions, but they are so necessary,” confessed Duncombe. 

Kate Barnhart
later posted on facebook:
Benjamin Heim Shepard and I sat in with about 2,600 people at ‪#‎FloodWallSt by the bull on lower Broadway. By 2pm, when they still hadn't arrested anyone, I decided to come to work.

Larry Bogad was making his way through the crowd, postng a note at 2:10 pm
FLOOD WALL STREET is happening. I stepped out to find a friend. Had to come back through an ever-widening maze of barricades. At one, the officer was asking people "are you a protester?" and you had to say "no" to get past. I actually heard him ask someone asking to be let through, with a friendly grin on his face "do you hate capitalism?" the guy said no, and was let through.
While I was at home, eating, the busts happened around 7 pm.   Some 104 of the most courageous people I know were arrested, their stories making in onto ABC news and NY one and around the world.
Arrests started by seven, wth a group of women in wheelchairs leading the way.

The view from jail by davd solnit.

I talked with Ron later that night.  For him, the action was about movement building, intergenerational exchange, collective expression, joy, engagement, care, political critique, and vision of a larger future. Very important and moving.

“There are times we can’t just fall back into business as usual,” noted Jessica Sunflower, one of the activists arrested.    “We can’t just go to a picnic and leave our heads in the sand. We have to respond to the coming cataclysm.  We have to take a day off of business as usual and respond,” Sunflower continued.  “It's important to be out there because the environment is fundamental.  You can't do anything if there is no food because of massive drought, or  no drinking water because of fracking etc.  Wall St is business as usual with the worship of the dollar at the cost of our lives.  This is more than worth taking day off from work.  Only by raising a cacophony in every way possible will our voices be heard.”

I have such admiration for Sunflower and the others activists arrested, who moved away from business as usual despite their busy lives, taking leadership with their bodies and passions.
Her mother was there at the march with her, blessing her action.   And they were not alone, several activists came with their parents and family, sharing that moment of in time and action.

And instead of the story being about the police the story was about a movement, reaching out across movements and the political spectrum to decision makers, spreading its voice to show presidents and mayors the way.   

I think the First Amendment is a little more important than traffic,” Mr. de Blasio said when asked about disruptions caused by yesterday’s demonstration, a more freewheeling affair than the organized People’s Climate March the day before. “The right of people to make their voices heard, regardless of their views, is a fundamental American value, and we’ll protect that value.”

We’re already planning meetings for new actions and a memorial for the Bendy Tree, to follow up on these actions.  After all, its not the convergence actions that really count, its the ongoing organizing as we move forward, extending the wanderlust of movements through time, saying goodbye to bendy trees, while pushing to plant new ones.

Jon us Sunday at 1:30 during the Cirkus Amok show at Tompkins Square park as we say goodbye to the Bendy Tree. 



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