MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - Last Wednesday I was lucky enough to sit in on a coal seam gas (similar to shale gas)/quit coal campaign meeting here in Melbourne. I was really impressed with the level of organisation, and passion this group had and the amount of activities they had planned from the 'Quit Coal-a-palooza' concert to talking to people at farmers' markets. It also made me realize that no matter how much I would love to get these people involved in International Stop the Tar Sands Day in Melbourne most of them would probably be way too busy with their own campaign to participate. As disappointing as that may seem, I was actually alright with it. I just reminded myself of the bigger picture.
I think not losing sight of the bigger picture is important if you are involved in any group, campaign or movement. Never before have I had to remind myself of the bigger picture as much as I have this year. I have already written about how May 5th is also Climate Impacts Day, Occupy will be shaking things up from May 1st - May 12th and the BC First Nations' Freedom Train will be travelling Canada and speaking out against Enbridge's Northern Gateway pipeline from April 28th - May 9th. One could argue there are just way too many things happening at the beginning of May.
Peronsally, I am absolutely thrilled that this is the world I live in with so many people on the move to make the world a better place. Yes, there is the potential that these events will decrease the amount of ISTSDay 2012 participants and events and we may not achieve the magic number of fifty events on four continents as we did last year. In some cases we are coming together brilliantly with one or more of these campaigns or movements (see Push Europe). But at the end of the day is it not all part of the same bigger picture anyway?
The bigger picture looks a little bit like this. There is the Yinka Dene Alliance's Freedom Train trying to stop the tar sands by preventing the Northern Gateway pipeline from being built . The organizers of Climate Impacts Day - 350.org - are trying to stop climate change before it passes the point of no return. Occupy is trying to put people before profit.
Where is ISTSDay in this picture?
I am assuming the connection between ISTSDay and the Freedom Train is obvious. If you look at the home page of our website one of the objectives of ISTSDay is to get people involved in stopping climate change (350.org connection). As for Occupy, one would assume that if people did come before profit communities living in northern Alberta, Canada would not have to worry about tar sands tailings ponds' toxins leaking into their drinking water supply. It probably would not even be an issue.
By looking at the bigger picture, you quickly realize ISTSDay will be a part of something that will see thousands of people participating in hundreds of events around the world this year. You may also notice that success for one campaign or movement translates into success either directly or indirectly for the other(s). How could I not be happy about how much attention the Freedom Train will get or how omnipresent Occupy and Climate Impacts Day are going to be? We are all in this together.
When I step back and look at the bigger picture I can only smile and think how far ISTSDay has come from trying to get just five events off the ground in five European capitals in 2010.
Almost two weeks to go!
(Photo from ISTSDay 2011 in Berlin, Germany. Thank you Krystel!)
For more info on the Australian coal seam gas campaign go to: