Let’s make this a real’ leap’ year, and go fossil fuel-free | Naomi Klein

The Leap Manifesto is an unashamedly radical plan to convert the world to 100% renewable energy, fast. And you can be a part of it

Leap day is coming up at the end of the month remember this one?

Thirty days hath September,
April, June, and November.
All the remainder have thirty one,
except February, on its own,
which has twenty eight most times.
And in a leap year, twenty nine.

I get interested in leap years a few months ago when a group of us in Canada were trying to come up with a title for an independent political platform we had just drafted. The document launched during our recent federal election and signed by thousands and thousands of Canadians was a roadmap to get the country entirely off fossil fuel by the mid-century or sooner, in line with what many scientists are telling us we must do, and what technologists are telling us we now can do.

And we wanted to go further: the plan argues that in the process of fundamentally changing our country to make it green, we also have a once-in-a-century opportunity to make it fairer. We could redress terrible incorrects done to indigenous peoples; radically reduce economic, racial and gender inequalities; eliminate legal double the criteria for immigrant workers; and create a whole lot of stable, well-paying tasks. In very un-Canadian fashion, we even dared to hope that the manifesto might become a model for similar broad-based confederations in other countries.

The text we came up with was unabashedly radical, and it went on to be endorsed by more than 100 organisations. An array of Canadian celebrities also added their names: Leonard Cohen, Donald Sutherland and Ellen Page, among others.

Our first challenge was what to call it. We wanted to convey the necessity of achieving speed, since as Christiana Figueres, the executive secretary of the UN framework convention on climate change, said recently: Where capital goes in the next five years will decide what kind of world we have.

One suggestion was The Leap. And yes, we worried about inevitable comparings to Mao Zedongs disastrous Great Leap Forward. But what ultimately tip-off the balance in its favour was when we realised that 2016 is a leap year.

It wasnt just good timing, we supposed, but a powerful analogy. After all, we periodically add an extra day to our calendars because if we didnt, the seasons would gradually fall out of alignment and eventually the seasons would go wacky. Imaging New Yorkers doing their Christmas shopping in T-shirts( oh right, that happened ).

It was Julius Caesar, in 46 BC, who decided to bring the 365 -day solar calendar to the Romans, throwing in that extra day every four years. He wasnt known as a humble man, but even a dictator in perpetuity realised that it was easier to change regulations written by other humen than it is to change the laws of nature.

Thats a lesson worth re-learning and fast. Like the Romans with their failing calendar, we find ourselves trapped within multiple failing systems: economic, political, even spiritual. And all these system failings have put humanity on a collision course with countries around the world, which warms and writhes the more we refuse to recognise its limits.


To much fanfare, our governments unveiled a global climate handled in Paris. Photograph: Francois Mori/ AP

We all received a vivid reminder of this problem a couple of months ago in Paris. To much fanfare, our governments unveiled a global climate bargain that pledged to keep warming levels to 2C or better yet, 1.5 C. Then many of those politicians went home to hand out new drilling rentals, new pipelines, and new highways.

Thats why we chose The Leap as the name for our manifesto: the gap between where we are and where we need to be is so great, and the time so short, that small steps simply will not cut it.

With this in mind, the manifesto not only calls for a rapid change to 100% renewable electricity, it insists that these new energy projects should be democratically controlled and that indigenous peoples should be first to receive public is supportive of their own clean energy projects. So should communities currently dealing with heavy health the health effects of polluting industrial activity.

To pay for all this, we called for dramatic changes to how public revenues are collected and spent, from an end to fossil fuel subsidies, and higher royalty rates on fossil fuel extraction, to cuts in military spending. And those are just a few of its 15 demands.

The plan captured the imagination of many Canadians. Burned out by decades of the struggle against what they dont want tar sands pipelines, explosion petroleum develops, draconian security bills they seized on the chance to rally around a vision for the world they actually wishes to. On leap day later this month, there will be sessions, teach-ins and other events across the country, all of them pushing our new government to adopt a holistic approach to the twin crisis of climate change and inequality.

And as we had hoped, it is spreading beyond our own borders. Platforms partly inspired by The Leap have been launched in Denmark and across the European Union, and others are in the works in England and Australia. Even one in Nunavut. Several groups in the US are looking at drafting regional leap manifestos.

Two millennia ago, Julius Caesar realised that there was something even more powerful than his empire: the planets revolution around the sunlight. Today, we need a different kind of solar revolution, one that doesnt only change how we generate our power, but also who benefits.

Heres the good news: we have the momentum to make that leap from the recent victories against Keystone XL and Shells Arctic drilling, to the surprising strength of Bernie Sanders presidential campaign.

So take a minute or two to be considered the extra day at the end of this month. Its a reminder that people can indeed are working together to change a failing decide of rules. The the statutes of nature , not so much.

Then lets make this 2016 the year we started to bridge the chasm between what is, and what must be. Lets make it the year we started to leap.

The Leap Manifesto, along with a listing of its original signatories, can be read in 10 languages here. To find out about leap year activities visit leapyear2 016. org. On Friday 5 February, Naomi Klein is co-hosting a leap year-themed Google hangout with Bill McKibben of 350. org, Asad Rehman of Friends of the Earth and others. Register here.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

The Resistance Now: big, angry crowd to fight back against Trumpcare

Activists opposing Trumps healthcare bill take the fight to town hall; liberals raise$ 1m for Democratic challengers in 2018; and the GOP loves Bud Light

Republicans duck town hall after voting for Trumpcare…

After working hard to pass a bill that would strip millions of Americans of their health insurance, Congress is taking a well-earned recess for the coming week. The notion is that politicians return to their home districts to satisfy their constituents. But if your representative is a Republican, youll have a hard time receiving them.

According to the Town Hall project, which tracks face-to-face meetings held by members of Congress, merely nine out of the 217 Republican who voted for Thursdays healthcare bill have plans to hold town halls during recess week.

People let Utah representative Jason Chaffetz know how they feel at a town hall in February. Chaffetz has not scheduled any town halls this week, which people may also disagree with. Photograph: Rick Bowmer/ AP

In lieu of the great Republican no-show, Indivisible, a progressive group which aims to use Tea Party tactics to influence politicians, has posted the names and office telephone numbers of every Republican who voted for the bill. Indivisible is encouraging people to call those representatives.

but not all of them

A big, angry crowd is expected at a Tom MacArthur town hall in Willingboro, New Jersey, on Wednesday.

MacArthur, who is a moderate, is being credited with helping to pass the American Health Care Act. He worked with the hardcore conservative Freedom Caucus to get the bill passed. Specifically, MacArthur drafted suggested amendment that would allow states to waive rules that protect individuals with pre-existing conditions being charged more for healthcare coverage.

MacArthur represents New Jerseys third congressional district which voted for Obama twice and only narrowly swung for Trump in 2016. He told the Guardians Lauren Gambino he expects to encounter angry residents, but said he would relish talking to them.

Tom MacArthur. Whats the opposite of healthcare advocate? Photograph: Kevin Lamarque/ Reuters

Liberals raise over$ 1m for Democratic challengers

The passing of the Republican bill has inspired thousands and thousands of people to contribute to Democratic congressional nominees in countries where Republicans are particularly vulnerable ahead of the 2018 midterms.

ActBlue, a Democratic supporting political action committee, has identified 24 Republican congressmen and women who voted for the bill and represent districts where Trump won less than 50% of the vote in 2016. It has set up two fundraising pages and had raised more than $1.3 m by Friday morning

In many districts Democrat have not even proclaimed yet, but ActBlue said the money will be reserved for the eventual candidates.

Theres no accounting for taste

Republicans reportedly celebrated their healthcare #win with cases and cases of beer. In particular, the Bud Light was flowing, according to Vices Alexandra Jaffe.

BeerAdvocate.com users do not appear to be fans of Bud Light.

Alexandra Jaffe (@ ajjaffe)

Cases upon cases of brew merely rolled into the Capitol on a cart covered in a sheet. Spotted Bud Light peeking out from the sheet

May 4, 2017

This is a generic pint of brew. We would have had to pay to use a picture of a Bud Light. Photograph: Fairfax Media/ Fairfax Media via Getty Images

What were reading

Were sorry for a healthcare-heavy email the coming week, but needs must. Adam Gaffney , writing for us here at the Guardian , describes the Republican healthcare bill as homicidal. Gaffney says that in passing the bill, moderate Republicans proved to be a cheap date as they kowtowed to the hard right Freedom Caucus.

The New York Times editorial board said the way Republican rushed through the bill indicated breathtaking hypocrisy after they had, for years, falsely accused Democrats of rushing the Affordable Care Act through Congress.

Teaching time at Trump Tower

The environmental group 350. org is holding a teach-in at Trump Tower in New York City on Tuesday.

The organization is fostering New York Citys government to divest pension funds from fossil fuel companies, and thereby lead on opposing climate change.

Trump is expected to decide whether to stay in the Paris climate agreement in which 195 nations, including to US, committed to limit global warming to two degrees above pre-industrial levels as early as next week.

Activists plan to head to the public terrace in Trump Tower as the name indicates, the terrace is open to the public and the event will feature music, speeches, chanting, teach, merry-making and colorful signs.

Despite visiting New York City on Thursday, Trump is yet to visit his home since the inauguration. He is not expected to attend the teach-in.

Trump Tower on Thursday. The sanitation department trucks are filled with sand and are there to protect the presidents home. Photo: Drew Angerer/ Getty Images

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Read more: www.theguardian.com

California’s coal war pits economic survival against environmental justice

Proposed terminal to export coal to Asia generates tense showdown in port city as key players cite potential health risks, yet industry could offer required jobs

Margaret Gordon will not get out of the car. She is in the shadow of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay bridge on a triangle of land where a bustling maritime terminal is planned.

The pollution is too bad, the 70 -something activist proclaims, and the terminal isnt even built yet. She rummages through her purse for an inhaler. I got a sore throat. I have allergy attacks Ensure the crane operating over there? All thats going to be OBOT.

Formally known as the Oakland Bulk and Oversized Terminal, OBOT will be able to handle up to 15,000 different commodities when it opens in early 2019 on the site of a decommissioned army base. But only one of them coal is forcing a tense showdown from Oakland city hall to the California capitol, a fight with echoes along the west coast and implications around the globe.

Environmentalists refer to California, Oregon and Washington state as the thin green line, a hurdle they hope will prevent coal from being exported to more polluting countries in Asia.

At stake in the Oakland fight are, on the one hand, the citys green reputation, Californias standing as an international climate leader and the west coasts very sense of itself. And on the other? The survival of a fighting industry and much-needed local chores that pay a living wage.

The west coast doesnt see itself as suppliers of coal and oil and gas to the world, said Eric de Place, policy director at Sightline Institute, a Seattle-based sustainability thinktank. We consider ourselves as innovators and environmental leaders. Theres a visceral, nearly existential rejection of the idea that we will be a superhighway for coal and oil.

Oakland is one of seven marine terminals that US coal producers would like to use to transport their wares to Asia. The proposals four in Oregon, two in Washington state and one in California cropped up after the domestic marketplace for coal plummeted about five years ago.

The decommissioned Oakland army base and site of the proposed coal terminal. Photo: Wiil Whipple for the Guardian

Benchmark Australian coal costs have dropped from $132 per ton to $52 since January 2011. Fifty coal companies have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection since 2012, including the two largest in the US. Arch Coal filed in January, followed by Peabody Energy earlier this month.

Coal producers condemn a war on coal beyond the economic drubbing. To some extent they are right. The Sierra Club and other environmental groups have launched anti-coal campaigns, drumming up local support to shut the terminal proposals down.

Legislatures from Canada to Mexico have legislated new regulations to move their energy supplies away from coal. In October, Governor Jerry Brown of California signed Senate Bill 185, necessitating the California Public Employees Retirement System and the California State Teachers Retirement System to sell their constrains in coal-producing companies.

At the moment, the Oakland battle is the most heated of the west coast terminal battles. The four Oregon proposals are off the table for a variety of reasons, De Place said. On 29 April, the clash will intensify over a terminal in Longview, Washington, when a draft environmental effects statement is released.

Betsy Monseu, chief executive of the American Coal Council, said her industry is deeply concerned about a piling on of the rules of procedure that wont have any benefit and will have an extreme level of implications for the economy, for energy costs, for American households. She declined to comment on any western coast terminal battle, but said that, if necessary, there are ways to move coal other than through Washington, Oregon and California. If the price levels supported it, then those coals would move, she said.

In some styles, the fight over Oaklands marine terminal is intensely local, a kind of he-said-she-said oppose between city government and the terminals inventors with little agreement on even fundamental matters, such as whether coal will even be processed in Oakland and whether its really bad for health.

But even the most local aspects of the proposed terminal have larger implications, pitting economic survival against environmental justice, living-wage tasks against youngsters lungs in west Oakland, among the Bay Areas most downtrodden neighborhoods. No matter who wins, person will lose.

West Oakland is ringed by freeways and situated hard by the busy Port of Oakland, where hundreds of diesel trucks drive in and out all day. Virtually half of its population is African American; 85% are people of color. For the last half-century, at least a fifth of the population has lived in poverty.

Near the army base in Oakland. West Oakland is one of the Bay Areas poorest neighborhoods. Photograph: Wiil Whipple for the Guardian

The neighborhood is sicker and poorer than nearly any other in Oakland. Its residents on average live 12.4 years less than their wealthier equivalents in the Oakland Hills, according to a 2015 report by the Alameda County public health department. There is more asthma, more lung cancer, more stroke and more congestive heart failure.

Jerry Bridges is president of Terminal Logistics Solutions, the Oakland-based company that will operate the proposed marine bulk commodity terminal. During a recent interview, he flashed describes of the facility on to the TLS conference room wall and sang its technological praises.

Even if coal is handled there a big if because of the ailing market, it will not hurt the neighborhood, he said.

All of the commodities coming through the terminal will be in encompassed rail cars, dumped into enclosed underground units with dust control, Bridges said. Bottom line is the products will never see the light of day.

And then there is what Phil Tagami, developer of the terminal, calls the community benefit.

This projects about taking a former military base as a peace dividend and transforming it into a facility that will not only deliver much-needed jobs to Oakland that are good-paying chores, but it was also about restoring a running waterfront.

Five of Oaklands eight city council members did not respond to requests for remark. The three who would discuss the project were uniformly opposed.

Coal has no place in Oakland, whether its transported, stored or shipped to China, said councilman Noel Gallo. Poor communities pay the brunt when it is necessary to health and safety issues. I dont watch them running the railroad through rich neighborhoods. They put it through poor black and brown neighborhoods.

If the terminal runs forward as schemed it would become the largest coal exporter on the west coast, unless one of the Washington proposals comes on line.

At this point, said Jessica Yarnall Loarie, a Sierra Club lawyer involved in the anti-coal campaign, Oaklands proposed terminal is closest to becoming a reality of anything schemed along the thing green line.

It could ship 10 m tons of coal annually, which, when burned, is equal of 7 average-sized power plants in a state that does not burn coal, Yarnall Loarie said. Californias climate leadership is on the line with this project.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

The Resistance Now: marchers across US to demand Trump’s tax returns

Tens of thousands of people expected to take part in marchings Saturday; Democrat attempt to flip a House seat; Sanders launches his own talk show


It may be the biggest national demo since the womens marches in January.

Tens of thousands of people from across the country are expected to take part in a mass procession on Saturday, to demand that Donald Trump release his tax returns and raise awareness about economic justice.

Since tax wonks rarely get their own mass protests, expect some creative signs. One proposed motto circulating on Facebook: Grab them by the net operating loss carry function .

The march was triggered by a single tweet by the law professor Julie Taub, after she watched a video of Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway declaring that Trump was not going to release his tax returns and that voters didnt care.

That annoyed me … people do care, said Taub, whose research focuses on corruption and the links between politics and money.

Buoyed by the huge turnout at the womens march, she posted on Twitter.

Jennifer Taub (@ jentaub)

Let’s plan a nationwide #DivestDonald and #showusyourtaxes protest for Saturday, April 15 https :// t.co/ Wo9DY9eEGP

January 22, 2017

Her idea ran viral and became Tax March .

Now, more than 130 demoes are schemed on Saturday, including events in New Zealand in Tokyo. The largest will be in Washington DC, where 50, 000 people have expressed interest in attending.

No return policy. Photograph: Nicholas Kamm/ AFP/ Getty Images

Can Dems flip a house seat to blue?

Democrat Jon Ossoff is polling well ahead of a special election in Georgias sixth congressional district on Tuesday. The 30 -year-old has raised $8.3 m much of it in gifts from out of state as he tries to win the seat vacated by Tom Price, who left to become Donald Trumps secretary of health and human services.

Ossoff is no Sanders-esque progressive theres no mention of single-payer healthcare on his website, or of free university education but a victory could be encouraging for liberals ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.

Jon Ossoff. Photo: Erik S Lesser/ EPA

Bernie Sanders: the activists Oprah

Bernie Sanders has launched a new Facebook Live reveal specifically, The Bernie Sanders Show which is already attracting millions of viewers.

Early episodes have find Sanders interview Bill Nye and the documentary film-maker Josh Fox, and the Vermont senator plans to take the depict on the road in the future.

Josh Miller-Lewis, a Sanders staffer, told the Guardian that Sanders get ideas for his interviews from reading advocates commentaries on his Facebook page.

Hes listening. Photograph: Joe Raedle/ Getty Images

Trumps Tower targeted over traveling ban

Twenty-five people were arrested at Trump Tower on Thursday after infiltrating the foyer in a protest against Trumps immigration policies.

The protesters, from Rise and Resist NYC, sat in front of the buildings elevators holding signs saying no wall and no banning in reference to Trumps now twice-thwarted travelling ban.

Occupy Trump Tower. Photo: ErikMcG/ Pacific/ BarcroftImages

What were reading

The Democratic party is undermining its progressive candidates , writes Jamie Peck. The Berniecrat James Thompson came close to winning a traditionally Republican congressional seat in Kansas on Tuesday but did so without support from the Democratic National Committee or the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

There is hope for liberal Democrats, however. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Sanders influence is growing within the party. Sanders is touring swing nations with DNC chair Tom Perez next week and one expert believes the center of gravity has definitely moved to the left since the election.

Look at that!

This week watched the first protest in space , and it was directed at Donald Trump.

ASAN, which promotes independent, open source space exploration, sent a weather balloon carrying a tweet directed at Trump to 90,000 ft above earth.

ASAN (@ ASANspace)

. @realDonaldTrump:

LOOK AT THAT, YOU SON OF A BITCHhttps :// t.co/ Vu7q2j8g1t pic.twitter.com/ EU1obtes4q

April 12, 2017

The tweet echoes a comment made by the astronaut and sixth man on the moon Edgar Mitchell 😛 TAGEND

From out there on the moon, international politics appear so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a one-quarter of a million miles out and say, Appear at that, you son of a bitch.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Body positive coloring volume uses art to challenge weight-based stigma

Image: Brittnay Herbert/ Mashable

Ashleigh Shackelford stands with unapologetic confidence, holding up a sign declaring, “Your body is not wrong. Society is.” Her image is solely outlined by thick black lines on white paper. Her fierce gaze dares you to pick up a pencil and begin to color her in.

But coloring the image of the body positive activist entails confronting the roundness of her face and the curves of her frame. It means get comfortable with her body a body society will ceaselessly label as less-than.

As your pink pencil gently traces the curves of her skirt, you realise her body is anything but incorrect. And that revelation is exactly the point.

To honor current fat activism trailblazers like Shackelford, artist Allison Tunis created Body Love: A Fat Activism Colouring Book . The volume, published in late July, is what Tunis calls an “educational coloring book” that’s component fat activism, portion art therapy.

It features the black and white images of 23 activists who Tunis calls current “superstars” of the body positive movement and they are all individuals who influenced Tunis on her own journey to self-love.

Image: Brittany HErbert/ Mashable

Tunis was inspired to create the book in December 2015 after feeling compelled to give back to the movement that helped her love her body. She had been working on her own body positive journey for about a year prior, detecting activists who had an indelible impact on her life.

“I started thinking about what I could do to contribute to that motion, because it had induced such a difference in my life, ” she tells Mashable .

“It’s not only a soothing and relaxing meditation through the act of colour, but also a meditation on self.”

Tunis, who has degrees in fine art and art therapy, says landing on the idea of a coloring volume simply induced sense, given her background. And combating the fat-based hate in society with the healing qualities of art is something Tunis knew she could help facilitate for the community.

“The fat activism and body positivity movements are so welcoming and so inclusive that I knew if I did this project, I’d have a ready-made audience, ” she says.

Though Tunis says the act of coloring in itself is meditative and relaxing, the type of therapy encouraged by Body Love: A Fat Activism Colouring Book operates deeper.

“It forces-out you to think about the different bodies and what your relationship is with them, ” she says. “It forces you to work out your own issues with bodies. It’s not only a soothing and relaxing meditation through the act of colour, but also a meditation on self.”

But that’s not only true for people who purchase the colouring volume and started to set crayon to paper. It was also true for Tunis as the illustrator of the book. The process built her confront some of the internalized weight-based hate she had toward her own body.

“As I was depicting these scenes, I realized I was able to see all of the beauty in these people so why wasn’t I able to see it in myself? ” she says.

To create the book, Tunis worked closely with the activists featured, keeping them updated on the progress and get their input on their depictions. She also offered them 25 percent of the profits.

“I’m employing their names and their images and their reputations to sell this volume, ” she says. “They deserve acknowledgment and that means monetary recognition.”

But Tunis devoted the activists a choice. They could either take the earned 25 percentage to support their own livelihoods and run, or donate it to the Canadian Mental Health Association an organization Tunis chose because of the mental health the health effects of dealing with fat hatred and weight-based stigma. She says about half of those featured has been decided to donate their cut of the profits.

Kelvin Davis, model and men’s fashion blogger, featured in “Body Love: A Fat Activism Colouring Book.”


Over the past month since the book’s release, Tunis says the ready-made audience she foresaw has pulled through, constructing the self-published volume a financial success. Some activists, like burlesque musician Noella DeVille and activist and writer Virgie Tovar, are even buying the books in bulk to sell at their own events, bringing the work to a larger audience.

But the release also pulled in another unexpected audience: children. Tunis says she’s received several notes from mothers saying they are grateful to have an alternative option to the tiny waists and unrealistic proportions that coat the pages of other coloring books.

“People have been saying that they are buying this coloring book not only for themselves, but to color in with their daughters and children, ” she says. “I genuinely think it helps spread a positive notion. You are spreading awareness that all bodies are good bodies to your children.”

“Taking the time to lovingly color images of people who definitely sounds like me is so healing…”

Substantia Jones, a fat positive photographer featured in the book, employs her own art to deconstruct how fat bodies are perceived in society, calling her work “part fat, component feminism, portion ‘fuck you.'” She describes Tunis’ coloring volume as following a similar mantra, challenging the belief of which bodies deserve to be celebrated.

“Utilizing other means of media to bring the message of body love and fat adoption to people particularly young people is nothing short of brilliant, ” Jones tells Mashable . “Wallpapering countries around the world with positive depictions of fat folks is demonstrating effective, and I’m glad to be aboard Allison Tunis’ project.”

Cynthia Ramsay Noel( left ), founder of “Flight of the Fat Girl, ” and Ashleigh Shackelford, body positive activist and writer.

Image: Brittany Herbert/ Mashable

When speaking to Mashable about the impact of the book, Tovar describes the effort as “super radical.” She says even the simple act of coloring can help to normalize a range of bodies, which was part of Tunis’ main goal.

“This coloring volume is a big deal because historically there has been almost no positive, self-directed representations of fat people in any publishing, ” Tovar says. “Coloring is a therapeutic activity that requires day and commitment. Taking the time to lovingly colouring images of people who look like me is so mending because often we are learned how to shy away from looking at our own fat bodies.”

“To every person who has ever seemed in the mirror and hated what they saw. You do not have to feel like this.”

Case analyzes conducted over the past several years found that art therapy supportings emotional well-being and lessens stress in both children and adults. Those who use art therapeutically have been found to build fewer phone calls to mental health providers and use fewer medical and mental health services.

But, even with art’s mending qualities on your side, things sometimes get tough and Tunis knows that first-hand. Even after determining body positivity, she says she still has bad days with her body image. But, she adds, the activists featured in the colouring book help her along the way.

“There’s this whole community of astonishing people who do amazing things and their bodies are a part of that, ” Tunis says. “It’s not that they are amazing in spite of their bodies. They are astounding because they are embracing their bodies. I remember there are people who love them and find them attractive. I don’t have to feel this way.”

And she echoes that notion for anyone who picks up the book through a powerful dedication that prefaces the book: “To every person who has ever appeared in the mirror and detested what they foresee. You do not have to feel like this.”

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Protest and persist: why giving up hope is not an option

The true impact of activism may not be felt for a generation. That alone is reason to fight, rather than surrender to despair

Last month, Daniel Ellsberg and Edward Snowden had a public dialogue about republic, transparency, whistleblowing and more. In the course of it, Snowden who was of course Skyping in from Moscow said that without Ellsbergs example he would not have done what he did to exposure the extent to which the NSA was spying on millions of ordinary people. It was an extraordinary declaration. It meant that the results of Ellsbergs release of the top-secret Pentagon Papers in 1971 were not limited to the impact on a presidency and a war in the 1970 s. The consequences were not limited to people alive at that moment. His act was to have an impact on people decades later Snowden was born 12 years after Ellsberg risked his future for the sake of his principles. Actions often ripple far beyond their immediate objective, and remembering this is reason to live by principle and act in hope that what you do matters, even when results are unlikely to be immediate or obvious.

The most important consequences are often the most indirect. I sometimes wonder when Im at a mass procession like the Womens March a month ago whether the reason it matters is because some unknown young person is going to find her purpose in life that will only be evident to the rest of us when she changes the world in 20 years, when she becomes a great liberator.

I began talking about hope in 2003, in the bleak days after the war in Iraq was launched. Fourteen years later, I use the term hope because it navigates a way forward between the false certainties of optimism and of despair, and the complacency or passivity that goes with both. Optimism assumes that all will go well without our effort; despair presumes its all irredeemable; both let us stay home and do nothing. Hope for me has meant a sense that the future is unpredictable, and that we dont actually know what will happen, but know we may be able write it ourselves.

Hope is a belief that what we do might matter, an understanding that the future is not yet written. Its informed, astute open-mindedness about what can happen and what role we may play in it. Hope looks forward, but it draws its energies from the past, from knowing histories, including our victories, and their complexities and imperfections. It means not being the perfect that is the adversary of the good , not snatching defeat from the jaws of victory , not presuming you know what will happen when the future is unwritten, and part of what happens is up to us.

We are complex beasts. Hope and anguish can coexist within us and in our movements and analysis. Theres a scene in the new movie about James Baldwin, I Am Not Your Negro, in which Robert Kennedy predicts, in 1968, that in 40 years there will be a black chairwoman. Its an astonishing prophecy since four decades later Barack Obama wins the presidential election, but Baldwin jeerings at it because the style Kennedy has presented it does not acknowledge that even the most magnificent pie in the sky might comfort white people who dont like racism but doesnt wash away the ache and indignation of black people suffering that racism in the here and now. Patrisse Cullors, one of the founders of Black Lives Matter, early on described the movements mission as rooted in grief and fury but pointed towards vision and dreams. The vision of a better future doesnt have to deny the crimes and sufferings of the present; it matters because of that horror.

I have been moved and thrilled and astounded by the strength, breadth, depth and generosity of the resistance to the Trump administration and its agenda. I did not anticipate anything so bold, so permeating, something that would include state governments, many government employees from governors and mayors to workers in many federal departments, little town in red states, new organisations like the 6,000 chapters of Indivisible reportedly formed since the election, new and fortified immigrant-rights groups, religious groups, one of the biggest demonstrations in American history with the Womens March on 21 January, and so much more.

Ive also been worried about whether it will endure. Newcomers often think that results are either immediate or theyre nonexistent. That if you dont succeed straight away, you failed. Such a framework constructs many give up and should be going when the momentum is build and victories are within reach. This is a dangerous blunder Ive insured over and over. What follows is the defense of a complex calculus of change, instead of the simple arithmetic of short-term cause and consequence.

Theres a bookstore I love in Manhattan, the Housing Works bookshop, which Ive gone to for years for a bite to eat and a superb selection of used volumes. Last October my friend Gavin Browning, who works at Columbia University but volunteers with Housing Works, reminded me what the name entails. Housing Works is a spinoff of Act up, the Aids Coalition to Unleash Power, founded at the height of the Aids crisis, to push for access to experimental medications, bringing awareness to the direness of the epidemic, and not run gentle into that bad night of premature death.

What did Act up do? The group of furious, fierce activists, many of them dangerously ill and succumbing, changed how we think about Assists. They pushed to speed up medication trials, deal with the many symptoms and complications of Aids together, pushed on policy, education, outreach, money. They taught people with Aids and their allies in other countries how to fight the narcotic companies for affordable access to what they needed. And win.

Members of Act Up, the Aids Coalition to Unleash Power, at the Gay and Lesbian Pride March in New York City on 26 June 1988. Photograph: The New York Historical Society/ Getty Images

Browning lately wrote: At the start of the 1990 s, New York City had less than 350 divisions of housing set aside for an estimated 13,000 homeless individuals living with HIV/ Aids. In answer, four members of the Act up housing committee founded Housing Works in 1990. They still softly offer a broad array of services, including housing, to HIV-positive people 27 years later. All I insured was a bookstore; I missed a lot. Act Ups work is not over, in any sense.

For many groups, motions and mutinies, there are spinoffs, daughters, domino effects, chain reaction, new models and examples and templates and toolboxes that emerge from the experimentations, and every round of activism is an experiment whose outcomes can be applied to other situations. To be hopeful, we need not only to embrace uncertainty but to be willing to know that the consequences is a possibility immeasurable, may still be unfolding, may be as indirect as poor person on other continents getting access to medicine because activists in the USA stood up and refused to accept things as the latter are. Think of hope as a banner woven from those gossamer threads, from a sense of the interconnectedness of all things, of the lasting effect of the best actions , not only the worst. Of an indivisible world in which everything matters.

An old woman said at the beginning of Occupy Wall Street were fighting for a society in which everyone is important, the most beautifully concise summing-up of what a compassionately revolutionary, deep democratic movement might aim to do. Occupy Wall Street was mocked and was regarded as chaotic and ineffectual in its first weeks, and then when it spread nationwide and beyond, as failing or failed, by pundits who had simple metrics of what success should look like. The original occupation in lower Manhattan was broken up in November 2011, but many of the encampments inspired by it lasted far longer.

Occupy launched a motion against student indebtednes and opportunistic for-profit colleges; it shed light on the ache and barbarism of the financial breakdown and the American debt-peonage system. It called out economic inequality in a new way. California passed a homeowners bill of rights to push back at predatory lenders; a housing defense motion arose in the wake of Occupy that, home by home, protected many vulnerable homeowners. Each Occupy had its own involvement with local government and its own projects; a year ago people involved with local Occupies told me the flourishing outgrowths still make a difference. Occupy persists, but you have to learn to recognise the myriad forms in which it does so , none of which seem much like Occupy Wall Street as a crowd in a square in lower Manhattan.

Similarly, I think its a mistake to regard the collect of tribes and activists at Standing Rock, North Dakota, as something we can measure by whether or not it defeats a pipeline. You could go past that to note that simply delaying completion beyond 1 January cost the investors a fortune, and that the tremendous motion that has generated widespread divestment and a lot of scrutiny of hitherto invisible corporations and environmental destruction constructs constructing pipelines look like a riskier, potentially less profitable business.

Standing Rock was vaster than these practical things. At its height it was almost certainly the biggest political gathering of Native North Americans ever seen, said to be the first time all seven bands of the Lakota had come together since they defeated Custer at Little Bighorn in 1876, one that made an often-invisible tribe visible around the world. What unfolded there seemed as though it might not undo one pipeline but write a revolutionary new chapter to a history of more than 500 years of colonial brutality, centuries of loss, dehumanization and dispossession. Thousands of veterans came to defend the encampment and help prevent the pipeline. In one momentous rite, many of the former soldiers knelt down to apologize and ask forgiveness for the US armys long role in oppressing Native Americans. Like the Native American occupation of Alcatraz Island at the end of the 1960 s, Standing Rock has been a catalyst for a sense of power, pride, destiny. It is an affirmation of solidarity and interconnection, an education for people who didnt know much about native the same rights and incorrects, an affirmation for Native people who often recollect history in passionate detail. It is a confirmation of the deep ties between the climate movement and indigenous rights that has played a huge role in stopping pipelines in and from Canada. It has inspired and informed young people who may have half a century or more of good work yet to do. It has been a beacons whose meaning stretches beyond that time and place.

To know history is to be able to see beyond the present, to remember the past gives you capacity to look forward as well, its to see that everything changes and the most dramatic changes are often the most unforeseen. I want to go into one part of our history at greater length to investigate these questions about outcomes that go beyond simple cause and consequence.

A water protector at Standing Rock, where thousands gathered to protest the Dakota Access pipeline and its menace to the Missouri river. Photograph: Pacific Press/ Rex/ Shutterstock

The 1970 s anti-nuclear movement was a potent force in its period , now seldom recollected, though its influence is still with us. In her important new book Direct Action: Protest and the Reinvention of American Radicalism, LA Kauffman reports that the first significant action against nuclear power, in 1976, was inspired by an extraordinary protest the previous year in West Germany, which had forced the government to abandon plans to build a nuclear reactor. A group that called itself the Clamshell Alliance arose to oppose building a nuclear power station in New Hampshire. Despite creative tactics, great movement building, and extensive media coverage against the Seabrook nuclear power plant in New Hampshire, the activists did not stop the plant.

They did inspire a sister organisation, the Abalone Alliance in central California, which used similar strategies to try to stop the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant. The groups protested against two particular nuclear power plants; those two plants opened anyway.

You can call that a failure, but Kauffman observes that it inspired people around the country to organize their own anti-nuclear groups, a motion that brought about the cancellation of more than 100 planned nuclear projects over several years and created public awareness and changed public opinion about nuclear power. Then she gets into the really exciting part, writing that the Clamshell Alliances most striking legacy was in consolidating and promoting what became the dominant model for large-scale direct-action organizing for the next 40 years. It was picked up by the Pledge of Resistance, a nationwide network of groups organized against US policy in Central America in the 1980 s.

Hundreds more employed it that fall in a civil disobedience action to protest the supreme courts anti-gay Bowers vs Hardwick sodomy decision, Kauffman continues. The Aids activist group Act up employed a version of this model when it coordinated bold takeovers of the headquarters of the Food and Drug Administration in 1988 and the National Institutes of Health in 1990, to pressure both institution to take swifter action toward approving experimental Aids medication. And on into the current millennium. But what were the strategies and coordinating principles they catalyzed?

The short answer is non-violent direct action, externally, and consensus decision-making process, internally. The former has a history that reaches around the world, the latter that stretches back to the early history of European dissenters in North America. That is , non-violence is a strategy articulated by Mohandas Gandhi, first used by residents of Indian descent to protest against discrimination in South Africa on 11 September 1906. The young lawyers sense of prospect and power was expanded immediately afterward where reference is traveled to London to pursue his cause. Three days after he arrived, British females battling for the right to vote occupied the British parliament, and 11 were arrested, refused to pay their penalties, and were sent to prison. They made a deep impression on Gandhi.

He wrote about them in a piece titled Deeds Better than Words quoting Jane Cobden, the sister of one of the arrestees, who told, I shall never obey any laws in the making of which I have had no hand; I will not accept the authority of the court executing those laws Gandhi declared: Today the whole country is laughing at them, and they have only a few people on their side. But undaunted, these women work on steadfast in their cause. They are bound to succeed and gain the franchise And he saw that if they could win, so could the Indian citizens in British Africa fighting for their rights. In the same article( in 1906 !) he prophesied: When the time comes, Indias bonds will snap of themselves. Notions are contagious, emotions are contagious, hope is contagious, gallantry is contagious. When we represent those qualities, or their opposites, we impart them to others.

That is to say, British suffragists, who won limited access to the vote for women in 1918, full access in 1928, played a part in inspiring an Indian human who 20 years later resulted the freeing of the Asian subcontinent from British rule. He, in turn, inspired a black human in the American south to study his ideas and their application. After a 1959 pilgrimage to India to meet with Gandhis heirs, Martin Luther King wrote: While the Montgomery boycott was going on, Indias Gandhi was the guiding light of our technique of non-violent social change. We spoke of him often. Those techniques, further developed by the civil right movement, were taken up around the world, including in the fight against apartheid at one objective of the African continent and to the Arab spring at the other.

Participation in the civil right motion of the early 1960 s shaped many lives. One of them is John Lewis, one of the first Freedom Riders, a young leader of the lunch counter sit-ins, a victim of a brutal beating that broke his skull on the Selma march. Lewis was one of the boldest in questioning Trumps legitimacy and he resulted dozens of other Democratic each member of Congress in boycotting the inauguration. When the attack on Muslim refugees and immigrants began a week after Trumps inauguration, he demonstrated up at the Atlanta airport.

Thats a lot to take in. But let me set it this style. When those women were arrested in parliament, they were fighting for the right of British females to vote. They succeeded in liberating themselves. But they also passed along tactics, spirit and defiance. You can trace a lineage backwards to the anti-slavery movement that inspired the American women suffrage motion, forwardright up to John Lewis standing up for refugees and Muslims in the Atlanta airport this year. We are carried along by the heroines and heroes who came before and opened the doors of potential and imagination.

My partner likes to quote a line of Michel Foucault: People know what they do; often they know why they do what they do; but what they dont know is what what they do does. You do what you can. What youve done may do more than you can imagine for generations to come. You plant a seed and a tree grows from it; will there be fruit, tint, habitat for birds, more seeds, a forest, timber to build a cradle or a house? You dont know. A tree can live much longer than you. So will an idea, and sometimes the changes that is a consequence of accepting that new idea about what is true, right, only remake the world. You do what you can do; you do your best; what what you do does is not up to you.

Schoolchildren dress as Gandhi during festivities to mark the 143 rd anniversary of his birth. Photograph: Babu/ Reuters

Thats a style to remember the legacy of the external practise of non-violent civil disobedience used by the anti-nuclear motion of the 1970 s, as with the civil rights movement of the 1960 s, which did so much to expand and refine the techniques.

As for the internal process: in Direct Action, Kauffman addresses the Clamshell Alliances influences, quoting a participant named Ynestra King who said: Certain kinds that had been learned from feminism were just naturally introduced into the situation and a certain ethos of respect, which was reinforced by the Quaker tradition. Suki Rice and Elizabeth Boardman, early participants in the Clamshell Alliance, as Kauffman relates, were influenced by the Quakers, and they brought the Quaker practice of consensus decision-making to the new group: The notion was to ensure that no ones voice was stillness, that there was no division between leaders and adherents. The Quakers have been since the 17 th century radical dissidents who opposed war, hierarchical structures and much else. An organizer named Joanne Sheehan said, while non-violence educate, doing actions in small groups, and agreeing to a situated of non-violence guidelines were not new, it was new to mix them in combination with a commitment to consensus decision-making and a non-hierarchical structure. They were making a way of operating and coordinating that spread throughout the progressive activist world.

There are terrible narratives about how diseases like Aids jump species and mutate. There are also ideas and tactics that jump communities and mutate, to our benefit. There is an evil word, collateral injury, for the people who die unintentionally: the civilians , non-participants, etc. Maybe what I am proposing here is an idea of collateral benefit.

What we call democracy is often a majority rule that leaves the minority, even 49.9% of the people or more if its a three-way vote out in the cold. Consensus leaves no one out. After Clamshell, it jumped into radical politics and reshaped them, building them more generously inclusive and egalitarian. And its been sharpened and refined and used by nearly every movement Ive been a part of or witnessed, from the anti-nuclear actions at the Nevada test site in the 1980 s and 1990 s to the organization of the closing of the World Trade Organization in late 1999, a victory against neoliberalism that changed the fate of the world, to Occupy Wall Street in 2011 and after.

So what did the Clamshell Alliance attain? Everything but its putative objective. Tools to change the world, over and over. There are crimes against humanity, criminal offences against nature, and other forms of destruction that we need to stop as rapidly as possible, and the endeavors to do so are under way. They are informed by these earlier activists, equipped with the tools they developed. But the efforts against these things can have a longer legacy, if we learn to recognize collateral benefits and indirect effects.

If you are a member of civil society, if you demonstrate and call your representatives and donate to human rights campaigns, you will see political leaders and magistrates and the powerful take or be given credit for the changes you effected, sometimes after resisting and resisting them. You will have to believe in your own power and impact anyway. You will have to keep in mind that many of our greatest victories are what doesnt happen: what isnt constructed or destroyed, deregulated or legitimized, passed into statute or tolerated in the culture. Things disappear because of our efforts and we forget they were there, which is a way to forget we tried and won.

Even losing can be part of the process: as the bills to abolish bondage in the British empire failed over and over again, the ideas behind them spread, until 27 years after the first bill was introduced, a version ultimately passed. You will have to remember that the media usually likes to tell simple, direct tales in which if a court regulations or an elective body passes a statute, that action reflects the actors own beneficence or insight or evolution. They will seldom go further to explore how that view was shaped by the nameless and unsung, by the people whose actions built up a new world or worldview the way that innumerable corals build a reef.

The only power adequate to stop the Trump administration is other members of civil society, which is the great majority of us when we recollect our power and come together. And even if we remember, even if we exert all the pressure can potentially, even if the administration breakdowns immediately, or the president resigns or is impeached or melts into a puddle of corruption, our work will only have begun.

International Womens Day 2017. Actions often ripple far beyond their immediate objective, even when results are unlikely to be immediate or obvious. Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/ AFP/ Getty Images

That job begins with resisting the Trump administration but will not aim until we have made deep systemic changes and recommitted ourselves , not just as a revolution, because revolutions dont last, but as a civil society with values of equal opportunities, democracy, inclusion, full participation, a radical e pluribus unum plus compassion. As has often been noted, the Republican revolution that allowed them to take over so many state houses and take power far beyond their numbers came partly from corporate money, but partly from the willingness to do the slacken, plodding, patient run of building and preserving power from the ground up and being in it for the long run. And partly from telling stories that, though often deeply distorting the facts and forces at play, were obligating. This work is always, first and last, storytelling work, or what some of my friends call the battle of the narrative. House, remember, retelling, celebrating our own narratives is part of our run.

I want to see this glorious resistance have a long game, one that includes re-enfranchising the many millions, perhaps tens of millions of people of color, poor people, and students disenfranchised by many means: the Crosscheck program, voter ID statutes that proceed from the deception that voter fraud is a serious problem that affects election outcomes, the laws taking voting rights in most nations from those convicted of felonies. I am encouraging to note many idealistic activists bent on reforming the Democratic party, and a new level of participation inside and outside electoral politics. Reports say that the offices of elected official are inundated with calls and emails as never before.

This will merely matter if its sustained. To sustain it, people have to believe that the myriad small, incremental actions matter. That they matter even when the consequences arent immediate or obvious. They must remember that often when you fail at your immediate objective to block a nominee or a gas pipeline or to pass a bill that even then you may have changed the whole framework in ways that induce broader change inevitable. You may change the tale or the rules, give tools, templates or encouragement to future activists, and make it possible for those around you to persist in their efforts.

To believe it matters well, we cant assure the future. We have the past. Which gives us patterns, models, parallels, principles and resources, and stories of valour, brilliance, perseverance, and the deep pleasure to be found in doing the work that matters. With those in our pockets, we can confiscate the possibilities and begin to stimulate hopes into actualities.

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