Posts tagged ‘Say Yes Campaign’

June 5, 2011

“Say Yes” rally June 5 – analysis and ideas

We demand innovation of businesses.
We demand courage of our politicians.
We demand of ourselves… not so much.

First, let me say this: I’m glad the “Say Yes” rally in Adelaide happened, and the organisers deserve applause and thanks. They didn’t have a lot of time or money, and they pulled it off.

Opportunities like today – a chance to see that plenty of other people are concerned (despite what you’d believe if you thought the Murdoch press reflected reality) – are valuable. We need occasionally to go to the well to refill the leaky bucket of optimism and passion for climate action.

The event was short, sweet and.. not enough.

We have been doing rallies like this – on various issues be it (pro-peace, pro-tolerance, pro-planet) – for a long time. If they worked to build a movement that grew, learned, organised and won, then, well, we would Be “There” by now. But we’re not. (Footnote 1)

The rally followed an entirely predictable format. After some music, there was an entirely competent introduction, followed by three speeches of variable audibility and interest. [For what little it is worth, here’s the speech I would have given.] Nobody said anything that the people attending didn’t already know or agree with. People had no opportunity to communicate what they didn’t know, what they thought could be done, what they wanted to happen next with the campaign for a climate safe Australia (which is a much bigger issue than just a carbon tax/emissions trading scheme)

So here are some questions

Why gather 2000 people who have knowledge, ideas, passion and commitment and have them listen to 30 minutes of music and 30 minutes of speeches telling them what they already know

Why gather 2000 people and disempower them by having them listen for an hour, as if they are simply empty vessels to be filled? Or sheep to be shepherded? I am sure that the organisers do not think that, but their actions create that impression. I looked at the faces of people during the speeches, and many seemed bored and irritated. That’s not the way to enthuse and engage and encourage.

How many of those who attended the rally will be able to tell a mildly skeptical friend or neighbour “yeah, it was exciting and inspiring, you should come next time.” (That, to me, is a key definition of success.)

Why not give permission to people to mingle and meet with those stood around them. How else are we to create the loose networks of people across the city?

Why not structure some of the hour so that all the people who are teachers, or health care professionals or students could gather in different parts of the park, just to exchange names and details.

Why not structure some of the hour so that people from different parts of the city could mingle based on where they live. For example, when I was walking down my street about to start putting the “conversation” letters in post-boxes, I met someone who had also been at the rally, and we had a really useful conversation. That was a happy accident. The organisers of the rally could have created many more of those happy accidents.

Why not have a a space after the rally where people who have questions about the science of climate change could talk with experts face to face, and get impromptu lessons. It would make people feel more confident in their (inevitable) dealings with the small number of vocal denialists. It would give the experts valuable experience.

Why not have a “suggestions box” so that people can submit their contact details and ideas for what the movement could be doing to improve its power?”

Why not have an agreed post-rally meeting place for those who want to talk more over a coffee or a sandwich?

Why not have a “video booth” where people can record brief comments that could then be posted on youtube, showing just how many people outside the “latte-drinking inner-city professionals” demographic want action.

So, it’s good that the rally happened. But if we keep on as we have been keeping on these last 30 years or more, then we are not going to “win”

Next up – an analysis piece on the Dangers Ahead… (betcha can’t wait).

If you’re really time-rich with a high tolerance for shockingly clumsy graphics, see these videos
From Cannon-Fodder to Ego Fodder

Meetings from Above

Footnote 1: For good (IMHO) analyses of the state of the Australian climate movement, see these two recently articles.
The first is from the latest “Chain Reaction,” by Holly Creenaune, a member of Friends of the Earth Sydney.

In part she writes

“Bad policy aside, it’s the debate – or lack of it – that is the real problem. The public cannot participate in a discussion about a perfect price or the market that could work magic: the debate is inaccessible, ignores concerns about justice, and is not relevant to our daily lives. We’ve been stuck for decades in a media and policy vacuum of neoliberal market mechanisms and a contest over complex science. Real solutions, community voices, or the elephant in the room – our coal exports – are locked out. It suits government and industry to keep the debate on this limited terrain – but we desperately need to build a message and a movement that can reject false solutions like carbon trading, halt privatisation of energy infrastructure, and put forward new ideas.”

The second is by Anna Rose, one of the founders of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (a more mainstream lobbying outfit – sort of like “Stop Climate Chaos,” only effective.)

“But the time has come to be honest. We are failing because as a whole the Australian environment movement does not understand power, has not built power, and has failed to effectively exercise the power we have built.
“To win campaigns we have to make it harder for those in power to continue with business as usual than it is for them to give into our demands. Yet currently, it’s easier or politicians to continue with business as usual, and to give in to the demands of industry lobbyists from the coal, gas, mining, aluminium, cement and electricity generation industries — everyone, that is, except us.”

June 5, 2011

“Say Yes” rally June 5 – factual report

This is a factual report of the rally today. An analysis piece will be posted shortly. (Betcha can’t wait!) (Here it is.)

Around 2000 people gathered in Victoria Square/Tarndanyangga this morning for a pro-carbon tax rally organised by “Say Yes Australia.” Similar rallies have been held in capital cities around Australia, as part of an effort by the coalition of environmental groups and unions to put pressure on the Multi-Party Committee on Climate Change. The committee is currently deliberating over legislation that will create a ‘price on pollution.’

After a twenty minute set by the “Bearded Gypsy Band”, Catherine Zengerer of Radio Adelaide opened the event. A “welcome to country” was made by a young woman, called Jessie, on behalf of the Kaurna people.
Three speakers then took to the platform– David Brewer, an organic farmer, explained the consequences of a changing climate for farmers, and sad that a carbon tax would force businesses to take the necessary action.
A 17 year old Australian Youth Climate Coalition called Yen [sorry, didn’t catch surname. Edit 5/6/11 – Phan] reflected on the previous two years of climate (in)action at the Federal level. John Connor of The Climate Institute then took the stage, saying that the coming weeks, while the MPCCC deliberated, were crucial. He stated that there was struggle going on between those who wanted action and “the Captains of Industry, who like not paying a price for pollution”, those who reject the consensus of climate science, those who will use a carbon price as a scapegoat for the increases in electricity prices and difficulties that manufacturing is facing due to a strong dollar. He also singled out business and media for running a fear campaign . He encouraged people to take pre-formatted letters from stewards and distribute them to their neighbors, as part of a campaign to have “A million conversations” about the need for a price on pollution in the coming weeks.
Catherine Zengerer then closed the speech portion of the rally with news that 10,000 people had attended rallies in Sydney and Melbourne, with 3000 in Hobart. People mingled and dispersed to a final further set by the Bearded Gypsy Band.

Although there were several “No to Carbon Tax” people present, there were no altercations for the Murdoch media to report. They’ll just have to do what they always do – make stuff up…

June 3, 2011

Climate rally speech I will never give

“Say Yes” rally; Sunday June 5th, 11am – be there (Victoria Square) or be square.

Thank you for coming. It matters that you are here. I invite you to applaud the organisers of this event,
look around you – applaud yourselves and all the people around you- who have come,
and finally – and loudest of all so they can hear us – all those people who wanted to be here but – for whatever reasons – couldn’t be here. Let us nowapplaud absent friends!
(hopefully people applaud!)

I’m trying something a little bit different today. We are always asking our governments and the corporations and the institutions to act differently in the face of climate change. I think that means we have to do things a little differently too. So this is not so much a speech as a series of challenges to you. What I’m trying is to ask you a bunch of questions. I’m cheating a bit, because I think and hope I know some of your answers in advance. I want you to yell. I want everyone to be able to hear your answers.

So my first big question is why are you here?
Are you here to say “YES” to climate action?
Are you here to show you care?
Are you to display this wonderful movement’s strength?
What’s your answer?
(Hopefully a shout of “YES”)

Good. And I hope you’re here for hope, energy, passion, and ideas. Those exist in you and in the heads and hearts of everyone around you. After the rally, please stay a while and talk to others about what you are doing, what you want to do.

My second big question is this:
Is coming here to this wonderful rally enough?
Do you think that the campaigning groups you belong to only need your money and not your energy and ideas and time?
Do you trust corporations to act in our best interests?
Can we let the government take it from here?
(Hopefully shouts of “No”!)

That’s right. We are the ones we have been waiting for. Nobody else can do this. Not the state – it’s too clumsy, like an elephant tapdancing. Not our children – they won’t have time. There is no future but the one WE make. That WE make.

So my next big question is this.
Will you do more about climate change?
Will you go from this rally and today – yes, today – contact your councillors, your state and federal members of parliament and demand they say where they stand, and why they stand there, on this issue? Will you phone them? Will you write letters to them? Will you email them? Today?
(hopefully folks are yelling yes by this stage?)

OK, remember your answer to the “can we let the government take it from here” question? What was it? Remind me- can we let government take it from here?

So is that pressure you’ve promised – today – on your elected representatives enough?
(Hopefully shouts of “No”)

Then the big question is this; will you do more than that? Do you publicly commit, here and now, to doing more?
(Hopefully shouts of “Yes”)

You have the power. You have more power than them. If you will use it. We need climate groups on every street of every suburb of every town and city across this country. Groups that grow in numbers and knowledge and power. Groups that learn from both defeat and victory. Groups that organise in factories, schools, mosques, churches, and sports clubs. Groups that win small victories, and then use that momentum to win again and again, bigger and quicker, bigger and quicker.

Look around you. Look at all these other people who have come here today. They have abilities you need. You have time and energy and enthusiasm that they need. We can’t all be experts on everything. We need to learn about different pieces of the climate puzzle. Each of us needs to find something we can do, we want to do. Whether it’s about food, or energy, or transport, or simply climate justice. We each of us need to learn about that issue we choose. We need to build networks and knowledge and pressure. People here today can help you do that.

So my final question.

Do we need a bigger climate movement?
Will you encourage your friends to get involved in this adventure?
Will you get your family involved in this urgent venture?
Will you talk with people where you work, where you worship?
Do you say yes?

(sit down!)

June 2, 2011

“Say Yes” rally, Sun June 5, 11am, Victoria Square

[5/6/2011: Well, it went pretty well; around 2000 people, I reckon. Here’s a factual report, and here’s ideas for improvements.]
Here are more details

Hmm, I am very dubious about the power of rallies to build movements and shape public debates. At least, rallies as they are currently done. I think they’re a bit like Meetings from Above.

May 31, 2011

Taxing Times: Graph of for and against Carbon Tax

They say a picture’s worth a thousand words. Hmm… Lemme know what you think…