West Coast Climate Convergence; Canning and trainings and glitter, oh my!

From July 28 – Aug. 4th over 400 people gathered on a pesticide-free farm in Coburg, Oregon to learn, share, organize and network. Workshops and keynotes covered issues from the I-5 bridge expansion (Columbia River Crossing) to growing vegtables year-around. The week highlighted fossil fuel development projects throughout the West, and then created a space for people to learn the skills needed to fight them.

The phrase direct action has been invoked in many ways for many movements. Often, in the climate movement it is used to describe non-violent civil disobedience that directly confront and seek to physically halt fossil fuel development projects, such as lock-downs to equipment and road blockades. At this year’s West Coast Convergence for Climate Action, we spoke of direct action as not only taking action against dirty fossil fuel projects, but also taking action for community solutions and sustainability!

The week led up to a day of civil disobedience on Monday, which consisted of two major acts of disruption, street theater and rallies. It was awesome to learn about the details of proposed dirty energy projects, then hear the personal stories from impacted communities fighting them, and then finally organize and take action in the efforts to stop them.

The first action targeted the I-5 expansion due to proposed increase individual car and truck traffic, which would increase negative health issue in surrounding areas, increase greenhouse gas emissions, and drive dependency on oil. Maya, who learned her climbing skills at the convergence, climbed across a prominent Portland bridge dropping a banner that read, “6 more lanes = more sick people, no I-5 expansion”. Below her, convergence attendees performed theater involving huge cardboard bummers, as well as heroic bicyclists.

The rally then moved along the waterfront to the headquarters of Northwest Natural Gas Co., a company who would own and operate new pipelines proposed through Oregon associated with Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG). In front of the building three young women locked themselves to each other, blocking the entrance to the building while leading chants. The group sang, “Palomar is No Solution, LNG is New Pollution” as well as, “You can’t Fool us, We’ve been Watching: No More Greenwashing”.

The Convergence was co-sponsored by Rising Tide North America, Global Exchange and Rainforest Action Network, as well as local groups including: Energy Options, Friends of Living Oregon Waters, Columbia River Clean Energy Coalition and Cascadia Earth First!

Overall it pumped me up, gave me some new ideas, and fueled me to work harder and have more fun in our fight for a better future!

Here are a few trinkets about the week:

-One of the most popular workshops was led by a community member directly impacted by Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) development in Washington. Not only did she come to speak about LNG, but she led a workshop about canning, drying and freezing fruits and vegetables in preparation for decreasing food availability due to fuel prices and climate change.

-The NW Natural action was organized as a women’s action. We chose to do this for a few reasons, including because we were finding that the “sexy” roles were often being taken by young men in the group, while women were doing a lot of support and behind the scenes organizing. As we organized we came up with ways to make the action super fun, including by covering ourselves and our lock-boxes with glitter and heart-shaped stickers. One of our banner’s read, “Pipeline thru my heart” with a map of Oregon with a drawn pipeline through it. This actions was awesome, inspiring and fun!

-All of our keynote speakers were amazing! Including: Louise Benally-an Indigenous Matriarch and Black Mesa Resister, Jane Williams with California Communities Against Toxins and John Sundquist with River’s Turn Farm.

Here are some videos, and more coverage (including a hilarious right-wing blog interpretation) to learn more:

youtube video of Post Convergence ACTIONS:

Oregonian Video of No I-5 Expansion banner hang:

General Coverage of Climate Convergence:

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