Virginia: Mountain Valley Pipeline Fighters Disrupt Construction

Photo via Appalachians Against Pipelines.

Yesterday, two pipeline fighters locked themselves to construction equipment at a Mountain Valley Pipeline work site in Franklin County, VA, preventing work at the site. The banners read, “EARTH IS ON FIRE, TURN OFF THE GAS” and “¡SOLIDARIDAD CON PUERTO RICO!”

When asked why he’s taking action, Cricket, one of the people locked to equipment today, said, “Lots of things bring us here, I think. Speaking for myself, I’m currently going to school for integrated science education, which means my long term life plan is to become a science teacher. Hopefully my blossoming legal record after this doesn’t mess that up for me, but those goals stem from wanting to empower and support the wellbeing of future generations. Those commitments that call me to education are the same commitments that being me here, trying to protect the earth from another pipeline that will contribute to the mass extinction we’re going through right now.

“Unless we can stop climate chaos, the students I teach won’t have a planet to learn about, or potable water to drink, or even clean air to breathe, for that matter. So no matter what happens after this, I know I’m doing something that I will be proud to explain for the rest of my life. Clove and I are expressing care for the future.”

Clove, the other person locked on site, stated the following in reference to the “¡SOLIDARIDAD CON PUERTO RICO!” banner: “One indicator of climate destabilization is the increasing severity of hurricanes. In 2017, Hurricane Maria devastated the island of Puerto Rico as well as other surrounding places. After the hurricane, most of the disaster relief came from the people first impacted. This shouldn’t really come as a surprise to anyone — the first responders are always those first impacted — and it also shouldn’t come as a surprise that the government turned their noses up at the people struggling to keep themselves and their communities alive in the wake of that disaster.

“Since that hurricane, we’ve seen communities take care of each other in ways the government won’t, and now more than ever we’re seeing people take that power and use it to reject that government all together. We want to show love and support to the folks in Puerto Rico that are fighting for autonomy in their lives after a disaster, on a planet that’s only going to have more disasters in the near future.”

Clove and Cricket prevented Mountain Valley Pipeline work at the Franklin County site for 6.5 hours! They were then extracted from their blockade and arrested. One friend was charged with 2 misdemeanors and released on $1,500 bail. The other was arraigned but is being held without bail.

Meanwhile, today is day 345 at the Yellow Finch tree sit blockade near Elliston, VA!

Donate to support Cricket, Clove, Yellow Finch, and ongoing resistance to the MVP: bit.ly/supportmvpresistance

 

Two Forest Defenders Blockade Sawmill in Scotia, California

pics from Save the Mattole

Cross-posted from Save the Mattole

Bike blockades deployed today at HRC’s Scotia sawmill, with two forest defenders locking themselves to piles of bicycles, blocking the north and south gates into the mill. The human-bicycle team effort was able to turn away several log trucks heading into the mill before a small army of Humboldt County Sheriff deputies arrived on the scene. Both blockaders refused to unlock, and it took several deputies to carry both the bikes and the blockaders to the side of the road, where they were cited and released (all the bicycles were also released to continue their work against climate change).

Logging trucks blocked out by forest defender blockade.

Unfortunately, in the hubbub, a comrade who was standing by to support was arrested by none other than Conan Moore – the same sheriff who brutalized peaceful protesters in June and later personally extracted blockaders from a monopod and another gate lockdown. The person who was arrested was on the phone with local media when they were handcuffed. They were leaving the property, following orders to disperse. Now, they are being held in Humboldt County Jail on a $25,000 bail, with the deputies recommending felony charges. We are calling for the immediate release of this nonviolent forest defender!

Support arrestees by donating to our legal fund: tinyurl.com/helpforestaresstees

And most of all, support us by joining our efforts! Email efhum@riseup.net

Pipeline fighter scales welding machine at Mountain Valley Pipeline worksite

cross-posted from Appalachians Against Pipelines

Montgomery County, VA — Yesterday morning, Pipeline fighter River scaled a critical piece of welding machinery at a Mountain Valley Pipeline work site in Montgomery County, VA, preventing work at the site from proceeding further along the pipe.

River stated: “It is a common misconception that we all contribute to and suffer from environmental damage equally. It is large corporations like EQT that are destroying our homes while their CEOs look on from their penthouses. This is why ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ is not enough. We will never be able to recycle enough empty milk jugs to make up for the hundreds of miles of forests and farmlands that the MVP has devastated in its wake.

The banner hanging on site reads “LOVE THE LAND: SOLIDARITY WITH MAUNA KEA,” in reference to the ongoing blockade by Native Hawaiians of a sacred site in Hawai’i that is threatened by the construction of a massive telescope. The blockade, which is in 18th day of preventing construction, is not just about a telescope — it is about the ongoing desecration and exploitation of Native culture and rights.

In support of River’s action, a banner was hung above nearby Interstate 81 at exit 128, reading: “DEFEND WHAT YOU LOVE, STOP MVP, RESISTANCE = SURVIVAL.”

After seven and a half hours, River was extracted and arrested. They prevented welding from progressing along the pipe at a Mountain Valley Pipeline work site for that time. They were arraigned, and held without bail on misdemeanor charges.

Donate to support River and ongoing resistance.

 

Relationships matter if we want to win

Cross-posted from Medium

Relationships matter if we want to win: How-to cultivate more human connection online to build stronger movements (3-part series)

by Vanessa B.

INTRODUCTION


Let’s face it: Single-issue advocacy that directly pressures government and business won’t solve today’s crises on its own. It also won’t create the deep relationships and power we need to achieve multi-level, community-based, systemic change.

Sure, there are small (sometimes compromised) gains in the short term when organizations and groups muster enough strength, resources, and staff to pummel their opponent, but we’re losing the war. Wins are often rolled back when we can’t keep up the pressure or critical mass with finite resources. Too often, non-profits replicate the same systems of oppression they’re trying to dismantle in the first place. **Burnout is real**

More deep and lasting cultural change can happen if non-profits build real relationships with supporters*. By talking with more people, organizations can share resources that draw more people into leadership roles, expand internal and external capacity, and consensually support infrastructure on the ground to leverage power and create change.

It’s time to start doing better, deeper digital work to build real relationships with supporters — relationships that transform communities, grow and develop skills, support the grassroots, and expand movement infrastructure — you know, the things that we know create lasting change.

It’s possible to talk to more people, and I’m going to ask some hard questions and delve into how it can be done throughout this blog series.


The internet (“digital” or “online advocacy”) has given us the ability to reach more people and send a message further than it ever has gone before — so, why aren’t we winning more?

Let’s ask the hard questions: Are we using online platforms strategically to build relationships and power with the resources we have? Are for-profit platforms fundamentally changing the way we connect with people for the worse? Is it unethical to consistently grow your email list without the staffing, resources, and know-how to actually organize it? Is it even possible to cut through a crowded online space and make an impact on the ground?

More importantly, is online advocacy even organizing anyone? What would our movements look like if we focused a little more on personal connections instead of on getting signatures on a petition or on other, temporary, performative “wins” that push for an urgent and temporary critical mass?

“We have lived through a good half century of individualistic linear organizing (led by charismatic individuals or budget-building institutions), which intends to reform or revolutionize society, but falls back into modeling the oppressive tendencies against which we claim to be pushing. Many align with the capitalist belief that constant growth and critical mass is the only way to create change, even if they don’t use that language. If the goal was to increase the love, rather than winning or dominating, we could actually imagine liberation from constant oppression. We would understand that the strength of our movement is in the strength of our relationships. Scaling up would mean going deeper.” — adrienne maree brown, emergent strategy (edits made for length)

Surely with the focus on adding millions of people to popular progressive email lists — we’d have more wins under our belts. Right? RIGHT?! With so many tech tools and platforms at our fingertips, we should be talking directly to more people and bringing them into community — not less.


If you’re an organizer, activist, or change-maker, ask yourself how you got into this work. For me, it’s because someone spoke about an issue with me face-to-face. There was a personal connection. A relationship began.

The relationship gave me a space to be part of something as my true self and empowered me to see and question unfair power structures and step forward into community with others who felt the same way. There’s even research on this point: that relationships are a main driver of social change.


We live in an exciting time. The rapidly evolving digital sector has enabled us to reach people and scale our work like never before.

The downside is that for-profit social media platforms have fundamentally transformed how we communicate, share, learn, and organize for the worse. We need to be extremely cautious about how and why we use them.

“Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others aren’t built to foster deep human connections; they’re built to maximize our time on their platforms. Social media uses notifications to trigger the release of dopamine to fool our brains into thinking we are making meaningful connections and keep us on their sites. Our brains think this is making us happy which is why we keep coming back for more but it’s actually making us miserable.” — Nicole Carty, Momentum

As the world changes, so must our resistance to it — and our resistance needs to be irresistible and strategic!

Most simply, advocacy organizations need better processes for creating online organizing strategy?— and reject for-profit tech traps that are vacant of real personal connection.

If we want to bring more people into our movements and win more, we need to get better at having more principled and personalized conversations with the right person at the right time. We need to talk with more people, more deeply.

To truly scale, we gotta go deep.

Only when we can build lasting relationships at scale will collective participation and liberation be the outcome. Building these relationships should be the focus of our engagement strategy online and offline.


I will be the first one to say that “digital” or “online organizing” isn’t a magical unicorn that will get us exactly what we need exactly when we need it. But, by constantly asking questions about our strategy like I’ve outlined throughout this blog series, I know we can get closer to multi-level, community-based system change where people and culture change come first — not the latest executive director, digital campaigner, elected official, or tech tool.

In our fast-paced culture, it’s important to make time to reflect on where we are and where we’re going. And, with billion dollar companies controlling the way we speak with each other, we need to be vigilant and intentional about what online organizing is going to look like in 5 years.


Go to Part 1: How-to be more accountable to your online supporters.

*Supporters are people who are on your email list, follow your social feeds, donate, or contribute to your group in some way.

**The scope of this series mainly focuses on non-profits with sizable email lists, not grassroots groups and frontline organizers — but there are definitely tidbits of insights for everyone. It also doesn’t go into how to support, be in coalition with, or exercise consent to grassroots or frontline communities.

Written by Vanessa Butterworth. Edited by Jay Carmona.