Better Future Project had an exciting and busy summer, with our two summer programs, the huge growth of 350 Massachusetts, and two major mobilizations.
Our two summer programs, Ride for the Future and Climate Summer, have both graduated new classes of movement leaders. For the second year, Ride for the Future interns biked from New Orleans to Houston to draw attention to climate change and its effects on the Gulf Coast. Along the way, the seven riders highlighted the stories of local communities affected by the fossil fuel industry. Over the two months, they volunteered on community gardens and farms, worked with local Environmental Justice organizations, partnered with the Tar Sands Blockade around a community festival for the Latino community of Manchester at the end of the Keystone XL Pipeline, folded 1,000 paper cranes for a better future, and attracted much media attention–both local and national. You can learn about the riders’ journey in The Nation, as well as many other newspapers, radio, and television stations here.
The 23 Climate Summer made their way to Cape Cod for the debrief and wrap-up session after a long and successful month and a half on the road. At the end of June, the riders divided into teams and spread out around New England–one team to Vermont/New Hampshire (to fight the proposed redirect of the Enbridge Tar Sands Pipeline), one to Maine (to stop the same project), and two to Massachusetts (one in Eastern Mass to stop the expansion of Spectra’ Algonquin Natural Gas Pipeline, and one to Western Massachusetts to prevent fracking). They bicycled through their respective state(s), supporting local efforts to transition away from fossil fuels while advancing their campaign goals and growing as leaders. To find out what they were up to, read their blog, or read some of their media hits.
Organizers in Massachusetts have been hard at work this summer, strengthening the movement and putting our network, 350 Massachusetts, to work. On June 30th, activists from across the state gathered in Worcester for the People’s Action Assembly. The assembly was a celebration of 350MA’s 1-year anniversary, as well as a place to discuss the future of the climate movement. Both in breakout groups and altogether, 350MA members came up with a vision and an 18-month strategic plan for a stronger statewide climate movement. The conference was an inspiring way to begin the summer and gear up for the actions ahead.
At the end of July–the weekend of the 27th–hundreds of people gathered in Somerset, Massachusetts at the site of Brayton Point, the largest coal and gas power plant in New England. Participants urged Governor Patrick to close the plant without undue burden on the local community. “I am here to push for real long-term solutions for Somerset residents, solutions that will create a stable economy, not a dying and dirty industry,” said Camilo Viveros, a Somerset native. Job retraining and state financial support to replace lost tax revenues could be part of what organizers referred to as a “just transition” for Somerset. They emphasized that Somerset residents should lead the way in determining the specifics of this transition. 45 of the protesters were arrested in an act of nonviolent civil disobedience, placing model wind turbines at the gates of the power station. Check out great media coverage and photos of the action.
At the end of August, Better Future Project, 350MA, and Students for a Just and Stable Future returned to the region for the Energy Exodus. Over the course of 6 days, participants marched over 60 miles across Eastern Massachusetts, from Fall River (near Brayton Point) to Barnstable, from one of the largest coal and oil plants in the region to right nearby the future site of Cape Wind, the nation’s first off-shore wind project. The action was well-covered on tv, radio, and newspapers, and again called on Governor Patrick to use his authority to end coal in Massachusetts and called on the Barnstable Town Council to drop their lawsuit in opposition to Cape Wind. Read more about the Energy Exodus here.
A busy summer for sure – on to a busy fall!