Yesterday, I came across the above picture of the Energy Exodus, a six-day march for renewable energy currently taking place south of Boston–which I’d take part in, if I weren’t so exhausted from my current job situation. My friend Bethany of Granite Bunny posted it along with the comment, “This looks like fun, which means it’s probably the right thing to do.”
I couldn’t agree more. Especially since there’s a prominently featured golden retriever, and I am nothing if not a golden-lover. Any political action endorsed by a sweet, fluffy golden is something I can get behind. (Ok, that’s probably not technically true. But, fluffy!)
Everything about the march sounds amazing–like a cross between an Occupy encampment and an art festival. From the official event description:
This event is family-friendly and fun for all ages! While we have a serious purpose, the march will also include musical performances, art, community potlucks, discussions, faith and spiritual experiences, and lots of opportunities to get to know your fellow marchers and movement members as we walk the transition we want to see. Along the way we will rally, sing, learn, make new plans, and meet new friends.
I so, so wish I could be there.
And I can’t help but think of one of my favorite critiques of the climate movement, Melanie Jae Martin’s “Three Tactics for a Stronger Climate Movement,” and be grateful that the organizers of the Energy Exodus have apparently taken her words to heart:
Imagine if, when blockading a pipeline construction site, radicals invited the whole community to a festival on the site? Instead of a few people locking down, what if the community barricaded the area and held a dance party or a carnival, reclaiming it as a community space for direct democracy, food growing, and celebration? When resilience becomes a key characteristic of the space, joining together to defend it will become less scary and more joyful. People could use the space to construct their own cooperative forms of alternative energy, like community-owned wind power systems. As the movement nourishes the souls of participants more fully, its passion, energy, and numbers will grow, just as the round dance protests of the indigenous rights movement Idle No More have caught on like wildfire throughout the continent and beyond. And in the process, we’ll be forging the alternatives that are absolutely crucial for subverting corporate attacks on the land, air, and water.
I can’t help but think about energy in all its forms.
The coal that destroys mountaintops in West Virginia and lungs in Southeastern Massachusetts so that I can power my laptop, my lights, my life.
The immense promise of renewable energy, which could power the world in 20-40 years using today’s technology (if only we can round up the political will).
Perhaps even greater, the potential energy stored inside all of us who are struggling to get by–or just plain struggling with work that feels meaningless. As Bethany says, “[T]here is an enormous amount of passionate energy tamped down under pressure in all the cubicles and ordinary jobs of the world. ”
Like her, I don’t know whether to be happy that so much passion exists, or heartbroken that it is so tightly contained. And to be honest, I’m not sure the passion-under-pressure metaphor works. Sometimes, if you keep passion in a box long enough, it explodes–but other times, it just fades away. It gets worn down, like stones on the beach.
Does that mean it becomes something beautiful and smooth? Or is that just putting a pretty face on an ugly reality?
Maybe it’s less like water-worn stones–or my favorite beach-combing find, sea glass–and more like blisters on feet. Feet that have been standing all day. Feet that are really, really fucking tired.
My feet are tired.
I wish they were tired from marching, from putting my body where my values are. From making art, building community, learning and connecting, petting golden retrievers, singing, forging the alternatives that Martin talks about. Forging a new path forward.
Instead, they are tired from work.
Instead, I am sitting at home on my laptop, hoping that writing is enough.