Wednesday, April 18, 2007

StepItUp WrapUp

The StepItUp events of last Saturday are now over and we will probably have to wait awhile to really assess how successful they were. Clearly with respect to number of people participating they fell far short of the larger civil rights and anti-war protests but I think it is fair to say that StepItUp was the largest photo-op event in the history of US protest movements. It was photo-ops from sea to shining sea. Can great photos take the place of mass demonstrations and nonviolent civil disobedience to accomplish political goals? Maybe that is what will work, a thousand “Kodak moments” only these days the photos are all digital.

I participated in an event on a farm in Bedford Hills, New York, which is about 40 miles north of New York City. This type of event never could have occurred before Al Gore’s film “An Inconvenient Truth,” and before Katrina devastated New Orleans. Politicians and other speakers warned us about the dangers of global warming and how we must take action quickly. The photo shows Congressman John Hall addressing the crowd.

The results of StepItUp seemed to both signify hope but also disappointment. The fact that tens of thousands of people actually went to global warming protest rallies is a hopeful sign. Some sort of threshold was crossed. It was disappointing, however, because in many states last Saturday was just business as usual with only a few scattered events held in those states. If as Thomas Friedman says “green is the new red, white, and blue,” the word sure hasn’t gotten out in large swaths of America.

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