When NOT to march (or rally)

More than 400,000 people took part in the People’s Climate March last month in New York City. (Survival Media Agency / Robert van Waarden)

When NOT to march (or rally)

by Andrew Willis Garces

On an ordinary Tuesday evening in April 2007, dozens of union janitors gathered outside a downtown office building in Sydney, Australia, to celebrate a victory: After a long fight, another cleaning contractor had agreed to sign up with the janitors’ union. Singing “Don’t Stop the Cleaners” to the tune of “Don’t Stop Believin’” and pounding drums and shaking noisemakers, the assembled janitors listened to union leaders talk about their next target: the cleaning contractor of that very office building in front of them, which was still nonunion. After sending this message, cheering and chanting, the group marched back to the union office for a celebratory barbecue.

As this example shows, marches and rallies can be a great way to celebrate a big campaign victory (and gear up for the next one). They’re accessible, often relatively simple to plan, and can easily incorporate participation from many kinds of people. Good marches and rallies have a few functions. They can be a good place to announce you’ve reached a new stage, or otherwise serve as a movement’s marking point, such as the 1963 March on Washington. They can inspire your grassroots base with new energy. Or, ideally, they can move you past the finish line and into your campaign victory lap.

But too often we use marches and rallies in place of any other public action to put pressure on decision-makers and build support for our campaign. They’re good for partying or as a mass mobilization after grassroots support is built — but there are many more effective ways to create low-risk opportunities for gathering people together. On the heels of the People’s Climate March last weekend, where more than 300,000 people gathered to demand international action on climate change, it’s important to take the time to reflect on what marches can accomplish — and what other tactics can be used instead.

Continue to read about alternatives to marching and rallying and when this tactic is best initiated in this article by Andrew Willis Garcés. 


The Ark: Faith Leaders at Climate Change

AUBRUN ARKCAA had the privilege of working with faith leaders, activists, and community organizers last spring for a collaboration with through the Auburn Seminary. 

This fall, they turned their dreams into ideas and their ideas into action at NYC’s Climate March on September 21, 2014, building their very own Ark to sail down the streets of New York City.

The Ark was built through collaboration between Auburn and GreenFaith, along with friends at Catholics United, Sojourners, the World Council of Churches, Judson Memorial Church and Middle Collegiate Church.

Isaac Luria, Vice President of Auburn Action at the Auburn Seminary, described the inspiration for the float sharing,

“The ark appeared in a collective dream with other faith-rooted activists and organizers about how our wisdom traditions could speak to this urgent moment with radical creativity and dramatic flair”

We love the idea of the Ark! Read more about their inspiration and motivations for the project in their article, “Why We are Building an Arc.”  Great creative activism in action!





Steve Lambert and Victoria Estok approached NYPD officers along the People’s Climate March, showed them their sign, and asked if they could take a photo together. See them all

Often in political marches, the police and those marching are painted in opposition, but one of the purposes of the People’s Climate March was showing that the climate crisis affects everyone. These photos are a reminder that the climate crisis cuts across politics, and allows the NYPD to become participants (or at least be photographed alongside participants).

Victoria Estok is in the photos, Steve Lambert shot them. They said “Most were good sports about it. In fact, some of the most intimidating looking turned out to be the most kind.”

Steve Lambert is also the co-director of the Center for Artistic Activism.

Note: Officers mentioned to us they are not allowed to make political statements. These photos are not meant to show any endorsement by individual officers, and only demonstrate good will towards the participants.

The future and why we are terrible at predicting it « You Are Not So Smart

I am listening to the You Are Not So Smart Podcast and reminded of how often Stephen Duncombe and I encounter these faulty visions of the future. Thing like “We’ll never be able to do _______.” or “That’s just not going to happen.” come up in our workshops because we all have such a hard time being able to imagine realities outside our own.

Don’t worry, there’s nothing wrong with you, it’s just how our brains work. However, we do need to work harder to envision alternate futures. Since no one knows what will really happen in the future, pretending there will be an ever-present hegemony, capitalism, racism, or whatever problem is just another form of resignation.

We don’t know what’s possible, so we might as well work toward justice, equality, balance, peace, and a richer humanity.

Here’s some info from the podcast:

If you love educational entertainment – programs about science, nature, history, technology and everything in between – it is a safe bet that the creators of those shows were heavily influenced by the founding fathers of science communication: Carl Sagan, David Attenborough, and James Burke.

In this episode of the You Are Not So Smart Podcast we sit down with James Burke and discuss the past, the present, and where he sees us heading in the future. Burke says we must soon learn how to deal with a world in which scarcity is scarce, abundance is abundant, and home manufacturing can produce just about anything you desire.

james BurkeJames Burke is a legendary science historian who created the landmark BBC series Connections which provided an alternative view of history and change by replacing the traditional “Great Man” timeline with an interconnected web in which all people influence one another to blindly direct the flow of progress. Burke is currently writing a new book about the coming age of abundance, and he continues to work on his Knowledge Web project.

We also sit down with Matt Novak, creator and curator of Paleofuture, a blog that explores retro futurism, sifting through the many ways people in the past predicted how the future would turn out, sometimes correctly, mostly not.

Together, Burke and Novak help us understand why we are to terrible at predicting the future and what we can learn about how history truly unfolds so we can better imagine who we will be in the decades to come.

After the interview, I discuss a news story about how cigarettes affect the way your brain interprets cigarette advertising.

YANSS Podcast 020 – James Burke and Matt Novak ponder the future and why we are terrible at predicting it « You Are Not So Smart.

#ThinkBikes campaign

The AA Charitable Trust, part of the U.K.’s Automobile Association made this video as part of their #ThinkBikes campaign not exactly a new concept but this PSA definitely stays with you …