Donald Trump gives his first official State of the Union address on Tuesday, January 30, at 9pm Eastern | 6pm Pacific. Even if you hate the guy (and you should), somebody needs to listed to make sure he doesn’t announce any stupid new ideas (like drilling for oil on the moon, or requiring every citizen to genuflect and donate $5 every time the pass an Exxon station).
Our team will be listening in (and providing live color-commentary via twitter). And you can tune in with us! RSVP here and/or come back just before the speech starts Tuesday night and we’ll host a live stream of the speech, with running commentary from our team and a range of climate journalists, activists Climate Justice Warriors and more.
Because we work with a whole team of folks, we’ll also be sharing tweets and commentary on Health Care, International affairs, Defense, and more. Feel free to share your ideas and messages in the live chat above on Tuesday night, on our facebook page or by tweeting at @wealsoherdcats #Sotu
One of the things I’ve done for years now is help progressive, climate-action groups and people raise money online. Today is #GivingTuesday, so you can imagine that it’s been a bit of a whirl here at 198 methods.
The idea of #GivingTuesday is nice – we all take a day out at the start of December, proximate to black Friday, cyber Monday, and other major moments in late America’s capitalist over-consumption, and we just … give. People donate to charities and non-profits of all sizes and kinds. Billions are raised on this day every year. And most of the groups I work with or know will ask for your help and raise some needed operating cash today.
I’m doing that too – because we’re just getting our bylaws ready and filing as an official non-profit organization. And so, yes, it would be great if you can chip in a few dollars and help us expand our work in 2018.
But I also want to do something a little different – because I think 198 methods is a little different. So I’m taking a step back to tell you why you should donate. Call it my 30,000 foot view. The world as I see it from where I sit today. And why I think that world needs one more non-profit environmental group (this one). Call it the story of the pipelines and the wave of people powered resistance people.
But nobody has time to read a long email on giving Tuesday, so I’ll do the whole thing in a couple of charts and headlines:
The problem is that we’re not doing nearly, nearly enough to cut global warming pollution. Only the blue lines on this chart indicate getting NEAR the cap on global warming pollution that every country in the world (except Trump’s America) has agreed to. The red lines are 3-6 degrees C of warming, which makes most of the planet uninhabitable.
Here’s another version of the same thing, this one showing what the US, in particular is doing, has said it will do (under the paris Agreement) and what we actually NEED to be doing.
The good news is that as bleak as things look, we actually have all the solutions we need. Solar and wind prices are falling dramatically, so are batteries and electric cars. Coal is going out of business even with all the help the Trump administration is trying to give it in the form of unfettered subsidies.
Here’s 2 charts side by side from the same Guardian article that will raise your spirits.
The problem is, of course, that we don’t have an endless amount of time. In fact, every month and year we delay the action we need (effectively bending those lines down in the top 2 charts, and up, much more steeply in the second two) the changes get harder to make. Lake anything else in life (including me writing this message) the longer you put something off, the harder it is to complete the whole task by the deadline.
Here’s a great illustration of that “the longer you put it off, the steeper it gets” concept:
And it’s not just that we’re standing still, refusing to act. Oh no, not in the age of Donald Trump and his minions trying to rollback every law that protects public health, our climate or our communities. And they don’t stop at rolling back protections or opening up new and novel lands to drilling (not just BLM land, but national parks and monuments, even the Grand Canyon? Geez, guys, take it easy. What are you expecting to get impeached before your 4 years are up?).
But that’s not all! Trump’s team, led by Secretary of Oops Rick Perry, has even proposed charging US ratepayers and extra $1 billion+ to subsidize nuclear and coal plants in a plan so outrageous, even the gas and oil industry are speaking out against it (Really, it’s so brazen, you have to read this Vox piece to believe it).
The only way they can cash in is to stop, or at least delay, the global shift to clean, renewable energy (those second 2 graphs). They know the party can’t last forever, so they have to get every last hydrocarbon out of the ground NOW while there’s still a chance to do it. In fact, they’re so eager to dig it all up, that they’ve over-saturated the US market with oil and gas.
Which brings me, at last, to how I think we can win, and why I’d appreciate it if you can chip in a few dollars to support our work today. Take a look at this mash up of 2 maps – one a slightly older map of proposed Tar Sands Pipelines, the other just released today showing many (but not all) of the East Coast’s proposed gas pipelines.
This isn’t all the pipelines, export terminals and new fossil fuel infrastructure proposed in north America. But it is a lot of it.
When I look at that map, I don’t just see the pipelines and projects threatening so many communities. I see their vulnerability. If we can delay, disrupt, and derail these pipelines — even just for a few months — we can significantly increase their costs and give the clean, sustainable power options we need time to catch up.
Even more fun than outrage, I met lots of folks at last week’s People Vs Oil and Gas summit who are ready to build the future we want – clean, sustainable, just and led by women of color – right in the path of these pipelines. And then dare the Trump team and their fossil fueled backers to try and come drag us out of that better future. That’s what they’re doing in Nebraska with Solar XKL, in Pennsylvania at Camp White Pine, and are about to do a lot more of in Louisiana and lots of other places.
I want 198 methods to be there to help – to use our smarts and digital tools (like this stuff) to raise money, drag attention, and connect fights all across North America into one big movement for change. But to do that, we’re going to need money. Not a lot, but a little. There’s a little over $500 in our bank account right now. I’m hoping to raise $10,000 by the end of the month to have a lawyer look over our incorporation paperwork, buy some additional software and storage space we need to scale up the project, and get started on some cool new projects with our friends (which I’ll tell you more about next week, since this is already too long).
But as fortune would have it, I wasn’t stuck home alone, worrying about the vote; Or out at work trying to stay busy while clicking the refresh button on my news feed every few minutes. I was in Pittsburgh at the People Vs Oil & Gas conference, surrounded by pipeline fighters from British Columbia, Canada, South Texas, New York, California and everywhere in between.
So when a couple friends from the local Rising Tide chapter asked me to pitch in (and do what 198 methods does — digital communications support for direct action campaigns), I said yes in a heartbeat; Even if it meant getting up really, really early this morning.
In freezing weather lit by headlamps and watery pre-dawn light they erected two twenty foot tall tripods, dangled themselves from the apex and locked their bodies to the base. All of it to block an entrance to a local office park that is home to some of the biggest, richest and most destructive fossil fuel extraction companies in America. Frackers, Pipeline builders, Injection well profiteers and petro export barons all rub elbows and share office space on the plush Southpointe campus. Heck, even Halliburton rents a suite there.
And that’s how it needs to be with Keystone XL too. Today’s decision isn’t a defeat — for us or Transcanada, the pipeline builder either. It’s a sort of detente, a “game on” moment that we need to rise to with creativity, love and a powerful spirit of action. You don’t need a giant tripod or a beutifle banner, or even to run out in the street and stop traffic where you live (yet). But you DO need to be willing to speak up and take action when the moment is right. And that’s why we’re encouraging everyone to sign the “promise to protect” today.
Lead by Nebraska landowners and local tribal nations and indigenous leaders, the promise asks you to be ready, to get trained, make a plan, recruit some friends. And when the moment is ripe as a late-July ear of corn, to be ready to take action to protect our country, our communities, and our climate from the Keystone XL pipeline (or whatever else they think of). Will you sign on?
Let’s get to that decision, because it’s a little confusing but here’s the gist:
The Decision is BAD because it’s basically saying the Keystone Xl pipeline can get built, despite all the protests, problems, and last week’s massive oil spill. On the other hand it’s GOOD because the “alternate route” they approved is hundreds of miles longer and needs new and different land to be taken by eminent domain — none of which has been vetted by the EPA and other federal agencies before.That gives us an opportunity to sue, demand more information, and otherwise gum up the works until they do. Because of all that, and the fact that the price of oil has been crashing (undercut by the price of renewable energy, but mostly by cheap fracked gas), a lot of economists and investors think that KXL will simply never be built.
Editorial boards everywhere are positively swooning over the dulcet crooning of a new boy band called The Climate Leadership Council (CLC). That’s right, the carbon tax band is back together! But as usual, for backers of a carbon tax, the editorial boards are missing a fundamental truth: Climate change will not be solved by a bipartisan consensus of old white men. And we know this is so because 1) We’ve heard all this before; 2) This isn’t a sincere attempt to solve climate change, it’s grandstanding by paid pundits; and 3) Sincere, workable plans to solve climate change exist, but they’re never written by bipartisan old white men from the pundit class.
It’s been more than a week since the inauguration and the protest that denied Trump the crowds he craves, and helped reset the media narrative. We’ve got a lot to be proud of in the climate movement, and we’re struggling under the sheer weight of horrible news that’s been dumped on us in an unbelievably short period of time. Tillerson confirmed, Pruitt likely, the Muslim ban, the defections and failure to block cloture by Democrats.
But let me direct your attention backwards, for just a moment, to consider what happened on January 20, and some (I think) important lessons it provides about how the Climate movement can and should lead the resistance, and how this project can help.
The climate movement was actually, truly, a really big and important part of what happened. The protest at the “Red Gate” was a really big demonstration (hundreds of people) and was largely effective at the goals we set for ourselves. Planning meetings to support the action and plan strategy more generally were also attended by dozens of people on Wednesday and Thursday night. Numbers aren’t everything, but in the age of mass-resistance, they are an important thing – and we brought some big ones.
Part of what made it work was that nobody tried to “own” it. There were a couple of logos and banners for organizations at the Red Gate, but mostly there were just people. The organizers of the event and the trainings that pre-ceded it worked for Oil Change International, 350.org, Stand.earth and half a dozen groups. But none of those organizations tried to control the agenda or speak to the press on behalf of the rally. In fact, I was a little surprised at hoe many groups – even groups that support Direct Action tactics like 350 and Greenpeace – stood back from #DisruptJ20 and decided to fund actions, email their lists about it, or otherwise raise awareness. The positive side of that was that this was clearly an ‘organic’ action – no paid protestors, just a lot of pissed off people some of whom worked or volunteered with specific climate action groups, and some just showing up for the first time.
Protest, big protest works. This is the most important thing, and again, I’m not the first or only one to say it. But it’s worth noting that our actions directly contributed to the biggest news story of the inauguration – which was about the competing crowd size and narratives of ‘legitimacy’: When Trump & co falsely claimed that there were big supportive crowds at the inauguration, the press had no choice but to present the reality that the crowds on the mall and parade route were historically small and that there were many more protestors on the street than celebrants. That’s the real power of mass action. The inventor of our namesake – Gene Sharp – writes:
Mass noncooperation and defiance can so change social and political institutions, especially power relationships , that the dictator’ ability to control the economic, social, and political processes of government and the society is taken away.
So, what’s this thing, 198 methods, got to do with it?
Fundamentally, i think this showed me that an idea like 198-methods can world. A big, climate-lead movement of resistance and disruption can be effective and can happen. I also firmly believe in an intersectional approach to organizing – that means owning, acknowledging, and addressing (where we can) the fact that systems like climate change are racist. We’ll never defeat pollution until we address hate and discrimination (against women, immigrants, you name it) in our culture as well. Just like at the inauguration, our fights are linked. And now we have a clear example of what action together and in solidarity can look like.
The part where big green (and event smaller, more radical green groups) stepped back and didn’t (or weren’t able to recruit for this action also showed that there’s a need for this kind of organizing – intersectional, distributed, not leader-less but rather leader-full actions. #DisruptJ20 and the climate blockade didn’t organize themselves. But we might have been the only climate-oriented group that sent an email out to tell you about it- specifically recruiting some 150+ action participants. If #1 shows that we can make these actions work and be meaningful, #2 shows that we’re not duplicating effort.
Lots and lots of groups are asking you to call your Senators and oppose confirming key Trump cabinet members – that’s good stuff and we should all be making those calls, attending those town hall meetings, and signing those petitions. But if, like me, you’re not convinced that’s enough to stop Trump or demonstrate real resistance, then 198 methods will give you alternatives and additional actions that DO. Actions like Divestment, boycotts, protests, and civil disobedience/resistance – you know, all the stuff that’s on that 198 methods list written by Gene Sharp.
To that’s it – my recollection of the #ClimateJ20 protests at the #DisruptJ20 inauguration protest. And here’s some more excellent photos, video and more from the day. What do you think? Were you at a protest on inauguration day and have a story or opinion to share? Let us know in the comments or hit me on twitter and tell me what you think.
I’ve been thinking about what to say. About what can be said. Where do we start with what just happened in this country? So I’ve been reading facebook and text messages like everyone else.
I liked Farhad’s I see you and I need to be seen. I feel very viscerally everyone who’s just devastated: crying, inconsolable, destroyed by this news. I feel to the shock and numbness so many people speak of. I just went and stood in my own garden, as I usually do when I need to find my center, and there’s something unrecognizable about the whole world. Like some piece of gravity or physics has changed and I can’t fathom up or down yet.
I don’t yet feel the anger, the determination, the drive to go organize and fight and win some speak of, but I understand it. I cringe at the finger-pointing, but I understand that too. This was a thing done to us, not a thing born of our inaction or complacency. We need to fight, I believe we will.
Far and away the hardest to read and respond to are the posts from my younger relatives – biological and otherwise. These young people who ask “why? What did we do wrong?” And I want to tell them they didn’t do anything wrong, or that we can fix it next time. But it’s not like that. This isn’t a rebuke of a thing they did, it’s a rebuke of who they are. How do you tell someone “I love you, but they just hate you more”?
I had a tremendously hard time hearing president Obama say (in effect) that this was just another election. That in politics sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, and the important thing is to continue the civil debate.
I’ve lost elections before. As liberal Democrat, I’ve lost much more than I’ve won. But it’s never felt like this before. It’s not just the suddenness and surprise, it’s the utter slap in the face of it. This wasn’t about strategy and tactics. We didn’t miss a media opportunity or fail to deliver the right message at the right time. They hate everything about us, and there are more of them than us, and the next logical step is that they will begin to COME FOR some of us – that’s what it’s like.
So I don’t want to continue the civil debate. I think the debate is broken. I think the people on the other side are not trying to debate me so much as exterminate me. And that’s what I think a lot of us are feeling – and responding to by variously feeling frightened, sad, pugnacious or whatever.
Somebody smarter than me also talked about Gene Sharp and his body of works advising and documenting how one creates a peaceful resistance to a tyrannical and oppressive state. There’s no doubt that’s what we need now. And this website, this little organization is an idea of mine.
So let’s start here:
198 methods is a reference to one of Sharp’s earlier movement texts. The idea was to write down a list of all the different nonviolent tactics one could use – boycotts, sit-ins, marches etc – to challenge power. Its genius was that it was just a list. There’s no attempt to say what things work better in certain situations. Becuase the truth is, we can’t know in advance what works and what doesn’t, we have to be willing to try it all.
This project my riff on that idea. Sharp’s manual famously leaves out digital tools because he wrote it before their invention. So I wanted to update his list with 198 digital methods of nonviolent Direct action.
I also wanted to know, like sharp, what would happen if you put access to those tools into a LOT more revolutionary hands. The mix of digital and field is basically what made leading US progressive groups like MoveOn, 350.org, and DFA powerful. And we’ve seen examples like Keystone and #NoDAPL where that style of organizing is really effective at shutting down climate-killing projects and ideas.
But there are literally dozens of pipeline, power plant, oil train and other projects that don’t have celebrity endorsers or big green NGO backing. What if all of them had an email list of 100,000 people, a proportional social media reach, and the skills and experience to turn that list and audience into the power they need – from funding for their staff to people at their rallies and protests.
That’s the idea of 198-menthods.org, and our catch-phrase. There are lots of ways to save the planet. If all of them had a good digital organizing program behind them we could sow a lot more revolution a lot faster — and it’s as good an idea any for how to reap peace and
Not quite ready yet
I’ll be honest, I’m not quite ready to launch this thing yet. The website, as you can see, is still coming together. We’ve got no funding or community buy-in. There’s no board or stakeholders. For now, this is just me, feeling my way through the fallout and hoping that this is an idea folks can get behind.