So, We’ve Been Arrested. Now What? Part V

I’ve often written: a march is not a movement. Neither are 21 arrests. Today, we begin exploring options for how we move forward from here. Plus an election reminder and an important Journey talk on the Permian Basin.

A few announcements before Now What?

Miguel Acosta for Santa Fe Community College Board, Position 5.

Retake only made one endorsement in the local elections as we have been preoccupied with state issues. But we have one important endorsement: Miguel Acosta for Santa Fe Community College Board, Position 5. Roxanne and I have worked closely with Miguel for several years and he is one of our most trusted allies and advisers, so this is not an endorsement based upon campaign rhetoric, but on years of experience in collaboration. Please cast your vote for Miguel. He will bring a different and important voice to SFCC. Click here to read our endorsement.

Retake Our Democracy on KSFR 101.1 FM, Saturday, November 2, 8:30am– 9 am.   The Nov 2 show is different. Instead of the standard Q&A, I have one hour of Daniel Tso and Mario Atencio, two Navajo Nation activists who led our fracking tour of the greater Chaco Canyon area last Sunday. The show is a recording of the first hour of the fracking tour.

They describe in painful detail how the Navajo Nation has been betrayed by the state, by their own tribal governors, by the EPA, the BLM, the State Land Office, and Bureau of Indian Affairs. Many indigenous people, they said, describe the BIA as “Bossing Indians Around.” 

During the hour, they lay out just exactly how the Navajo Nation has been serving as a sacrifice zone to the gas and oil industry, the state, and the nation, and the awful economic, health, and social impacts of the drilling disaster across the Greater Chaco Canyon area landscape. As usual, the show ran well over the 30 minutes, so after listening live, plan to tune in for part II via the podcast, posted every Monday morning at Programs Menu: Podcasts: Retake Our Democracy.

Journey Focuses on Permian Basin

Journey Santa Fe, Sunday Nov 3, 11am-Noon at Collected Works, 202 Galisteo, Santa Fe. Erik Schlenker-Goodrich, Executive Director, Western Environmental Law Center. The talk will focus on a topic that has been featured repeatedly in Retake posts: Permian Basin a minter of money for the state that also paves our way to a doomed future. What to do? Should be a tremendous discussion.

Saturday Writing Prompt

On Wednesday, I was among 21 protesters arrested for trespassing in the Governor’s office. We were conducting a sit-in in support of Youth United for Climate Crisis Action (YUCCA) . YUCCA had submitted a set of demands to the Governor over a month ago and requested a meeting. There has been no response to those demands or the request for a meeting.

Prompt I: Why should (or shouldn’t) the Governor respond to YUCCA demands?

Prompt 2. Should protesters sit-in at the Governor’s office? Is civil disobedience appropriate at this time of climate crisis?

Please put your thoughts to words and submit them as letters to the editor with your local paper. The Governor needs to know that it is not just a fringe number of “extremists” who want to preserve our children’s future.

Click here for a link to our guide to writing letters to the editor which includes guidelines for submitting letters to each of the ten largest NM newspapers.

Click here for a link to Thursday’s post which described the sit-in, the YUCCA demands, and my reasons for being part of it.

An Arrest is NOT a Movement, So What’s Next?

We all have experienced those moments where it becomes crystal clear that you need to do something. Those moments come in mundane contexts, family relations, work situations and in relation to political action. For Roxanne and I, one of those moments occurred when we heard Bernie Sanders announce his run for President in 2015. His frank talk and his long-held progressive positions were our tipping point and we’ve been 100% all chips on the table since then. We all have our own tipping points, where it all crystallizes and you are ready to go all in.

We had not been involved in activism at all for decades and suddenly we were all in. We don’t fully understand what causes that shift from “I care” to “I am in, 100%.” But we need to understand how we can more effectively trigger that response from you because we need a whole lot more people who are all in. You are going to make your own decisions about how you devote your time and resources, but we are going to do all we can to encourage you to carve out more and more of your time and resources to this effort.

Climate catastrophe is coming. It is too late to prevent that. Just look at California. I’ve lost track of how many wildfires they are battling. And just Wednesday, the NY Times published a shocking report that described how scientists had miscalculated the impact of sea level rise. Scientists had relied on satellite photography that miscalculated the height of “ground-level” because the calculation incorporated the tops of buildings and trees as being the ground. The report showed revised projections for a half dozen major cities and regions and the picture below of Vietnam is typical. South Vietnam entirely disappears under the rising seas. Click here to read the full report. If you don’t subscribe, it is worth using one of your “ten free articles” to read this.

The photo above frames the urgency of now. But the question then becomes, what can you do about it. What must be next?

My arrest on Wednesday with 20 others and my post on Thursday challenged each of you to think about what more you could do to advocate for bold change, the only kind of change that has any hope of mitigating the coming damage. And so, certainly continued advocacy at the Roundhouse and continued work throughout the election cycle will be important work to be done. If we can’t motivate our leadership to take action, we need to change our leadership, starting in June and November.

Many of you will be involved in that work. But that is not nearly enough. In Thursday’s post I also challenged you to consider ways in which you can find more time and energy for involvement and to consider moving past your comfort zone. In a prior post, I suggested some ways you might do this. I have included a somewhat revised version of those ideas at the bottom of this post.

Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone

The degree to which we are successful in building a movement is entirely up to you. With the crew of volunteers we have now, we will certainly make an impact, but to really achieve our goals we need many times the number of people putting in 3-5 hours a week and the options are many.

We are in a horrific climate crisis, and in every community in NM and every state in the nation and in every nation on Earth, we need to begin to take this seriously. Everyone can spare 5 hours a week to devote to this work, and while many of you may be doing work on other fronts with other groups, too many are simply wringing your hands. Stop the hand wringing. Put those hands to work. It is no longer OK to be sitting on the sidelines, but we know it is not that easy to suddenly leap into the fray.

I recall when Roxanne and I decided to start the Santa Fe for Bernie campaign in May 2015. We launched the first meeting with help from a handful of pals. Before we acted we gathered some supportive troops.

And so, that is what I want you to do and to do it this weekend. There is significant research that points to how when you form a group–an affinity group–you are far more likely to sustain a diet, an exercise regimen, read novels (book club), or sustain your activism.

So this weekend, please call 2-3 friends and say something like. “I know you are as afraid as I am about where this country and this world are headed. I’m thinking that you and I and Joanna and Inez could get together for pizza and talk about it. I’d like us to get involved and take action together and challenge each of us to hang in there and do more. I want to have fun doing it, so I want to do it with you.”

Once you have two or three friends, make a plan to get together and brainstorm ways in which you can work together, and set a schedule of checking in once a week or so over coffee, wine, or a meal. But make a plan to take action together and do it. Click here if you want to review a handy guide to forming an affinity group.

Some suggestions below can be done individually, but could be more fun if done with your affinity group.

  • Begin sharing a link to each Retake blog with a number of friends via group email and encourage an email discussion among those friends. They won’t always agree with what is said, but what is important is to expand the conversation. This is important to helping build a movement.
  • If you use Facebook, copy a link from the blog into your feed, “tag” some of your FB friends by simply typing their names directly in the post until their name auto-feeds and you see their full name and then highlight the name. This will share your post directly to their feed. As with the first action, this will take only one or two minutes a day.
  • Come as a group to our future events or if you live at a distance, get together, pick up some pizza, pour some wine, and watch via live stream. Our next meeting is Nov 19, when we will begin planning for the 2020 legislative session, and activism at the Roundhouse is an excellent kind of action for a group to do together.
  • Go to Even if you have signed up before, please update your profile and identify something you can do on an ongoing basis. We need people who like to research, people who like to speak with others and organize them, people who like to write letters to the editor, and people who want to take action in relation to climate change. And if you do it as a group, you will come to your first meeting with friends and feel more comfortable. Your subsequent actions can also be done together.
  • This is an important one and one that could be a lot of fun done in a group. We drove to the Chaco Fracking tour with the Santa Fe New Mexican Opinion Page Editor, Inez Russell Gomez. She told us that the New Mexican prints basically every letter to the editor they receive. So let’s spread the word. You can use most any post we publish to provide a few facts to use in your letter. You don’t have to feel obliged to write a full 150 words. The most powerful letters are those that come from your heart. When you write, be sure to add your name at the end of the letter. And add “Retake Our Democracy” after your name. If you can, devote a few words to how Retake keeps you informed, and encourage others to subscribe to the blog. We want our community to know we are here and we are engaged. Click here for a guide to writing letters and contact info for the ten largest circulation papers. Most papers will accept a letter from you once a month. So let’s make our voices heard and our thoughts read.
  • If you form an affinity group, you might include a regular gathering where you assemble and write letters together, share ideas, get feedback and have fun. Then, when all your letters are published, you can toast your success.

We are facing an existential crisis, and to address it head on every one of us must find a way to do more. Forming an affinity group is a great way to do this while cementing friendships and forming community. We are going to need friendships formed upon a base of shared values and shared action when the time comes for some real sacrifice. And that day is coming, not due to sea level rise in NM, but no one will be spared some sacrifice. So, let’s pull together and resist, prepare, and form community.

In solidarity,

Paul & Roxanne

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2 replies

  1. Because we did not change our ‘consumer’ behavior when Carter put solar panels on the White house we went deeper into the era of Global Warming which has, as expected, triggered climate changes and now Catastrophic Climate Changes negatively affecting all life. Especially highly evolved life lie ours.
    To quote Winston Churchill: “A nation that forgets its past has no future”. It is written on a building’s wall on Montezuma and Guadalupe.
    We certainly did not forget our history. But we were made to forget it and we were taught the self serving Empire’s narrative.
    That’s why we are in the same place we were 60 years ago. Achieving little changes that have made our lives (especially those of women) more comfortable. But all of the political and environmental wrestling done has not move empire an inch!
    I am very afraid for the boys and girls of YUCCA. I am very afraid that they may be repeating our mistakes. I am afraid because our mistakes demoralized us and we lost hope and we gave up many sinking into depression and/or cynicism.
    So, we are here today and do not have time to make mistakes because there is no time left for mistakes!
    People wrote letters for the editor before and got arrested before. So what? The French went so far as to cut heads of their then one percenters and what did they get? An emperor?
    Yes, they did achieve very important and long lasting changes. But they did not change the Patriarchal Empire Project nor did they change our imperial consciousness sustained by the male of the species.
    Why couldn’t they change it then? And, why can’t we do it today?
    Maybe because it is not what we are trying to change with your blog, with our letter writing and with our demonstrations.??
    All I can suggest to you and to Roxane is to call and talk to CELDF and to read the books of Eric Holt-Gimenez. I am reading now “CAN WE FEED THE WORLD WITHOUT DESTROYING IT?
    I believe he, together with several others, has answers to our questions. They can be found in the book above.

  2. Thanks, Paul, for the info on affinity groups. I thought the climate action team was going to be my way to act for the planet, but as zoom meetings are not yet happening, I’ve been trying to connect with climate activists and actually DO things here in Farmington. Unfortunately, I’m beginning to realize I may have to create my own activists. Not my natural strength, so all clues are welcome.

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