Let a Thousand Actions Bloom | Melinda Tuhus

By Melinda Tuhus

I’ve been arrested several times in DC doing non-violent direct actions (NVDA), protesting FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) as a rubber-stamp agency that is contributing mightily to the cooking of the climate and destruction of local communities and landscapes, but Nov. 5 was my first arrest in the Capitol. It was at a Senate hearing of the Energy & Natural Resources Committee to consider the nomination of James Danly to be the third Republican member of the five-member FERC.

The hearing room is small, so we had to get in line two hours early to guarantee our spots. (We took a break in the women’s bathroom to video record our statements, which is why it sounds sotto voce.) We took our seats and observed some of the senators greeting the nominee, at least one – ranking member Joe Manchin (supposedly D-WV) declaring his support even before the hearing began.

As I sat in that ornate room, each side of the aisle alternating in their questions and comments to the nominee, I felt viscerally that the plodding pace of the Senate is all out of whack with the scope and immediacy of the crisis. When I couldn’t stand it any longer, I stood up and declared, “We’re in a climate emergency, and FERC is fanning the flames of the crisis. We need to convert FERC into FREC, the Federal Renewable Energy Commission.” I was taken out of the room, but let my demand echo down the hall, and I know they could hear me inside.

After being handcuffed, I was escorted down the stairs very gently by two officers who said they didn’t want me to trip. I don’t know if that’s because I have gray hair, or I’m white, or a female, or if they would have treated any other arrestee the same. (Somehow I doubt it.) I asked the young arresting officer what he thought of the climate crisis, and of course he didn’t answer, but he smiled seemingly sympathetically.

I loved that I wasn’t taken to a freezing cold holding cell! I was held for maybe an hour to 90 minutes before being released after paying a $50 fine.

There are many ways to raise the alarm, and disrupting a staid Congressional hearing is just one of them. We often don’t know what impact our actions will have until more time has passed. I’m hoping some of the senators, their young staffers, or some audience members – including the mom and three-year-old girl who were relatives of another nominee – will consider my plea for climate justice.

Update: Manchin was the only “Democrat” to join all the Republicans in approving Danly’s nomination and moving it on to the full Senate. Even though there is an opening for a Democratic appointee, and the Dems have what looks like a good candidate, Trump has so far declined to make that nomination. Minority Senate Leader Chuck Schumer had earlier pledged to hold up all legislation coming out of this committee unless they gave the Dem FERC nominee a fair hearing. Stay tuned.

Then two weeks later I attended an amazing NVDA action 90 minutes across the New York state line in Duchess County, in a last-ditch effort to stop the biggest fracked gas power plant in the Northeast from coming on-line, which would spew 279 tons of nitrogen oxides, 570 tons of carbon monoxide, and more than 60 tons of sulfuric acid pollution, plus a shocking 6 million tons of greenhouse gases annually. People locked down to a tractor, above, signifying support from some local farmers. And four people scaled a 275-foot smokestack that’s part of the plant, and stayed there for almost 12 hours. They got on the property before dawn, and the company called out the few workers on the overnight shift, shutting down the plant for the day. The photo below of the smokestack doesn’t convey its height, except for a tree branch very low for comparison.

One of the protesters explained, “The longer they’re not doing construction the better. But the long-term goal is to hopefully awaken Cuomo’s conscience and get [the plant] shut down.”

The action was enlivened by the beautiful harmonies of the choir of the Church of Stop Shopping, as well as a big brass band.

I read one article saying this plant could replace half the power of the Indian Point nuclear plant nearby, which Cuomo plans to shutter in late 2021, but renewable forms of energy are available and cost-competitive with dirty gas. The plant is due to open in early 2020. Opening gas plants is not the way for Gov. Cuomo to meet his own stated goal of making New York’s grid carbon-neutral by 2040.

Twenty-nine people were arrested, charged with trespass or, for the climbers, criminal trespass. Let’s hope they touched Cuomo’s conscience.

 


 

Melinda Tuhus reported for decades for a variety of national and local radio and print outlets, including Free Speech Radio News, WINGS, the New Haven Independent, In These Times and The New York Times. She is moving toward retirement and spending more time volunteering in the climate justice movement.

Climate Demonstration Took Place New Haven Nov. 12

by Alison Huntley, Sunrise New Haven

Climate activists from around New Haven gathered outside City Hall on Nov. 12 for a rally organized by Sunrise New Haven and New Haven Climate Movement to urge Mayor-elect Justin Elicker to act on climate justice.

New Haven Mayor-elect Justin Elicker addresses climate activists.

The Board of Alders recently passed a Climate Emergency Resolution, and Elicker made campaign promises about climate action. The rally was the continuation of a campaign to make sure Elicker and the city follow through on these promises. The rally highlighted multiple issues that encompass climate justice, such as jobs, immigration, and land use.

The rally’s demands included:

  1. The new Mayor should sign the resolution, which would create a Climate Emergency Task Force.
  2. The Task Force should act with urgency to aggressively reduce emissions, protect New Haven residents from current and future impacts of climate change, create green jobs, and prioritize just, equitable outcomes, particularly for poor and marginalized communities.
  3. The Board of Alders should commit at least 0.1% of the budget to these critical climate actions.
  4. Elicker should do more to pressure Yale to invest in climate action and the New Haven community far more than it currently is.

Mayor-elect Elicker, who attended the rally, said this was the first time he had been a target of a demonstration and that he would take our concerns into account when he starts his term in January.

To learn more about future climate action in the New Haven area, including the upcoming school strike on Dec. 6, follow @sunrisenewhaven or @newhavenclimatemovement on Instagram or go to bit.ly/SunriseNewHaven.

‘Incredible’: Harvard and Yale Students Storm Football Field Demanding Divestment From Fossil Fuels Nov. 23

(Twitter screenshot)

On Nov. 23 at Yale Bowl, over 200 students and alumni from both universities stormed the field at the annual Harvard-Yale football game to demand that Yale and Harvard divest their endowments from fossil fuel corporations and instruct their fund managers to cancel holdings in Puerto Rico’s debt. Many were arrested. The students held banners including, “Nobody Wins: Harvard and Yale Are Complicit” and “Yale and Harvard Students United for Climate Justice.” Reprinted from Common Dreams, Nov. 23.

Funding Requests for Environmental Projects Wanted

The Greater New Haven Green Fund’s Request for Applications (RFA) is now available to be downloaded from their website at: www.gnhgreenfund.org/small-and-large-grants.html.

Our mission is to promote environmental quality, public health and equity in our community by providing grants and other incentives to support initiatives that contribute to a more environmentally sustainable future and reduce air, water and land pollution.

The Fund seeks innovative proposals from committed organizations and individuals for activities that advance our mission.

On Jan. 11, 2020 we will have an informational out-reach session where some members of our Board of Directors will help answer questions about our application process and also talk about possible measurement tools that you can incorporate into your project proposal. Most likely it will be held in the late morning or early afternoon on the campus at Southern CT State University. We will announce it as soon as we have the exact time and location. You can email info@gnhgreenfund.org to ask about the time/location as we get closer to January 2020.

GNH Green Fund, Care of CFGNH, 70 Audubon St., New Haven, CT  06510

Call for Proposals for SCSU Women’s & Gender Studies Conference Due Dec. 16

PAR readers are invited to send in proposals for panels, workshops or lectures for the Southern Connecticut State University 2020 Women’s & Gender Studies Conference. The theme is “Gender, Race, Community, & Conflict: Pursuing Peace and Justice.” The conference will take place ​Friday and Saturday,​ ​April 24 ​and 25​, 2020. Submission deadline is Dec. 16​, 2019.

The world is right now witnessing the unprecedented destruction of communities—mostly Indigenous—and their habitats, including the ongoing fires raging across the Amazon rainforest, the Dakota Pipeline construction, and the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea. Major conflicts have been exacerbated among genders, races and cultural groups, resulting in unspeakable suffering and violence in communities, from the desecration of Indigenous lands and sacred spaces to climate strikes and the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, two-spirit people, and trans women of color.

How do feminists and their communities, Indigenous and settler-colonial, address these problems and heal the breaches that have divided and torn communities apart? How have feminists and activists creatively used the existing power structures to reverse the fragmentation of peoples and break down hierarchies? In the pursuit of peace and justice, what are feminist activists doing within their families and communities to stop the divisions and violence and counter the hatred and demonization against “the other”? How are peace and justice achieved through the intersectional and transnational coalitions across gender, race, class, sexuality, religion, nationality?

Please submit proposals and supporting materials to womensstudies@southernct.edu, with attention to “Conference Committee.” If you have any questions, please call the Women’s & Gender Studies Office at (203) 392-6133. Include name, affiliation, e-mail, and phone number. Proposals should be no longer than one page (250-400 words). Panel proposals are encouraged.

The Women’s & Gender Studies Conference at SCSU is self-supporting; all presenters can pre-register at the dis-counted presenters’ rate. The registration includes all costs for supporting materials and all meals and beverage breaks. For more information, visit the SCSU Women’s & Gender Studies page, or contact Women’s & Gender Studies Program: womensstudies@southernct.edu or (203) 392-6133.

Winter Gardening Workshops at Neighborhood Housing Services

Advanced Certified Master Gardener Rachel Ziesk will teach classes that will help you prepare your garden for the upcoming season. The perfect gift for any gardener (or wanna-be gardener) in your life! 6 sessions for just $100! Scholarships available! Find out more at: NHSWinterWorkshops2020.EventBrite.com.

All classes take place on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon at Neighborhood Housing Services, 333 Sherman Ave., Building #3.

Jan. 25: Soils and Composting – The most important component for a successful garden is soil health. Learn how to make your own compost and everything else you need to keep your soil healthy for the most productive garden.

February 8: Garden Planning & Season Extenders – Ensure a long and productive growing year with row covers, organic mulch, cold frames and more! Get the most out of even a small garden space.

February 22: Cool Weather Crops – Start your garden as soon as the soil thaws, even in mid-March! This class covers how and when to plant cool weather crops and manage their pests and diseases.

February 29: Warm Weather Crops – Learn how to make the best of our growing season including which warm-weather crops are best started indoors, which can be direct-seeded, what conditions and fertilizers each crop prefers and how to fight their pests and diseases organically.

March 14: Seed Starting – Start your own seedlings! Learn about when to start indoor seedlings, watering, using lights, and dealing with common problems. Everyone will get to plant a six-pack of seedlings to take home. We will also review which crops can be planted directly outdoors and when.

March 28: Weeds: the Good, the Bad, and the Tasty – Some weeds are actually native wildflowers benefitting your vegetable garden’s pollinators. Some are invasive horrors with plans to take over your garden. And some are edible, delicious little morsels that can be harvested and enjoyed.

Scholarships available. Please contact Kathy at (203) 562-0598, Ext. 225, or at kfay@nhsofnewhaven.org for details.

Retooling the Connecticut War Economy Nov. 9

by Henry Lowendorf, Greater New Haven Peace Council

We are totally accustomed to Connecticut’s two Senators and five Congressmembers crowing every time the Penta-gon doles billions of dollars to Connecticut’s merchants of death to build new killing machines.

It’s all about jobs, jobs, jobs. At one time CT had a hugely diverse manufacturing base. CT manufacturing now depends on subsidies from the Pentagon.

Similarly, they rationalize huge military spending, now 69% of the annual budget they vote on and the President signs. That leaves 31% to be split among transportation, labor, health, education, housing, environment and so on. CT’s governor and most state legislators regularly applaud every “gun” that is made here.

These electeds argue “national security.” They never admit that “national security” really refers to the security of giant corporate profits. The U.S. corporate media continually cheerlead war-making and weapons spending. They rarely ask what the downsides are in pouring so much of our national treasure into war.

Connecticut’s cities are running on empty. State government is desperate for funds. CT, one of the richest states in the richest country in human history, maintains the greatest wealth gap in the nation.

UMass studies show that every job funded for manufacturing weapons displaces two jobs creating civilian goods and services. Weapons spending is a job destroyer.

The Pentagon is the world’s biggest polluter and contributor to greenhouse gases. The climate-scorching crisis demands that we convert from fossil fuels to sustainable energy. The crisis demands that we move the money to civilian needs. To save ourselves and the planet from these two scourges we must retool the weapons and fossil-fuel industries into a green-peace economy.

Please join the conversation and design actions at the 4th Annual CT Peace Conference: Retooling the CT War Economy: How We Can Build Good, Green Jobs & Infrastructure for Human Needs & Peace.

Keynote: CodePink Co-Founder Medea Benjamin

Panelists: Miriam Pemberton, Dave Ionno, Mitch Linck, Jeremy Brecher, Denise Tillman, Henry Lowendorf, Bahman Azad.
Saturday, November 9, 12 – 4 p.m. Free and open to all, lunch provided. Middlesex Community College, Chapman Hall, 100 Training Hill Rd., Middletown, CT.

Conference Information: skrevisky@mxcc.edu, Steve: (860) 759-3699.

CT Peace & Solidarity Coalition, peacect.org.

Meet the Author Nov. 8: Green Strategy — Path to Fundamental Change

by Joelle Fishman, CT People’s World

Meet author Marc Brodine at a presentation and book signing of Green Strategy – Path to Fundamental Change on Friday, Nov. 8 at 7 p.m. at the New Haven Peoples Center, 37 Howe Street, New Haven. Green Strategy advocates a massive worldwide movement to create fundamental change as the only way to solve environmental crises. Linking environmental issues to allied social and political movements can transform our politics, economy, and protect our species from devastation. The book was published this year by International Publishers and is $14.99.

Marc Brodine lives in Washington State and is currently on a book tour. He has been a union and community organizer and activist, writer, teacher, hospital orderly and technician, office manager, guitar player, and woodblock print artist. He has written extensively on environmental issues and politics and is the author of Blood Pressure, a hospital-based mystery. Born in St. Louis, he has lived most of his life in the Pacific Northwest. He is a member of the Communist Party USA National Committee and has presented at conferences in the U.S., China, and Finland.

People’s World Amistad Awards: Rise Up — Unite 2020, Nov. 8, People’s Center

by Joelle Fishman, CT People’s World

This year’s People’s World Amistad Awards will take place on Saturday, Dec. 14, at 4 p.m. at New Haven City Hall Atrium, 165 Church Street — site of the Amistad statue symbolizing solidarity and courage in the ongoing freedom struggle. The theme is “Rise Up – Unite 2020. People & Planet before Profits.”

We invite you to place an ad in the greeting book and take a bloc of tickets to honor the awardees and the occasion. The ad deadline is November 20, 2019. For greeting book and ticket information e-mail ct-pww@pobox.com or call (203) 624-4254.

This year’s awardees are:

Rochelle Palache, Political Director of 32 BJ SEIU, a fierce warrior for workers’ and immigrant rights and a leader in the fight that won $15 minimum wage and paid family leave in Connecticut.

Ken Suzuki, Secretary-Treasurer of Unite Here Local 34 and a leader in the ongoing fight for job pipelines for Black and Latino neighborhood residents to full-time union jobs at Yale University.

John Humphries, Executive Director of the CT Roundtable for Climate and Jobs, is in the forefront of the movement for a just transition for workers and people of color in the climate crisis.

The Awards event leads into the 2020 elections and is held on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Communist Party USA. Special recognition will be given to Joelle Fishman for 50 years of leadership. To mark this special year, all former awardees will be called forward in a tribute to their continued contributions and unity building. The Movement Band and Brian Jarawa Gray and Friends will perform.

Yale Students Walk Out Of Classes To Join Global Week Of Climate Strikes

by Fossil Free Yale

On Wednesday, Sept. 25, 500 Yale students walked out of their classes at noon as part of the global week of climate strikes, claiming that business as usual cannot continue while Yale remains invested in fossil fuel companies and Puerto Rico’s debt. The students and community members, who marched to President Salovey’s office from Cross Campus, pointed to Yale’s political and economic influence and demanded that Yale divest from the fossil fuel industry and cancel its holdings in Puerto Rico’s debt.

At noon, students stood up in their seminars, lectures, and workplaces, spoke briefly about the urgency of the climate crisis and their reasons for walking out, and then led their classmates to Cross Campus for a rally. Many students walked out of introductory physics and biology lectures, microeconomics, and a class called “Natural Disasters,” all of which had course rosters of over one hundred people. Professors in Yale College, as well as the Law School, the Divinity School, the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, canceled classes in solidarity with the protestors.

“We are in a moment of unprecedented youth mobilization for climate justice,” said Elea Hewitt, a member of the Association of Native Americans at Yale, who walked out of her Sex, Markets and Power lecture. “We feel we cannot continue to sit in our classes while Yale invests in companies that contribute to the climate crisis and exploit the people first affected.”

Speakers at the Yale rally included Adriana Colón-Adorno, a member of the Puerto Rican student group Despierta Boricua, who spoke about the effects of intensified storms on the island. A Yale School of Forestry student, Manon Lefevre, spoke about the linkage between the Amazon fires and Yale’s continued investments in fossil fuels. By the end of the rally, over 1000 Yale alumni and current students had signed a pledge not to donate to the university until they met the protestors’ demands.

The walkout of Sept. 25 followed a rally on the New Haven Green on Friday, Sept. 20 that drew 400 people. That event was led by the high schoolers from the New Haven Climate Movement Youth Action Team, and was part of the largest coordinated day of climate action in history, with 4,500 events in 150 countries and an estimated total of 4 million participants.

Press contacts:  Martin Man, martinmi5@hotmail.com, (845) 505-9281; Nora Heaphy, nmarie.heaphy@gmail.com, (203) 584-8017. Organization email: fossilfreeyale@gmail.com.

Say NO to a Fracked-Gas Power Plant in Eastern CT

In disregard of scientific opinion, public outcry and climate emergency concerns, on June 6 the CT Siting Council approved the construction of a power plant in Killingly, CT, which will use fracked gas.

“It is permitted to emit as much as 2.2 million tons of carbon into the atmosphere each year it operates” — Norwich Bulletin, Aug. 5, 2019.

PAR readers: CALL Gov. Lamont to stop the construction. Another gas plant with massive CO2 emissions continues to put the climate and our entire planet in jeopardy.

Gov. Lamont’s phone number is 800-406-1527.

18 Years of Endless War: Please Join Us to Remember and Protest, 10/7

“There must have been a time, somewhere near the beginning, when we could have said no.” ~ Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

October 7, 2019, will mark 18 years of the endless war that continues to be waged by the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere in the Middle East.

Reclaiming the Prophetic Voice will mark the cost of the ongoing violence by placing the September stone on the Memorial Cairn at the intersection of Broadway, Elm and Park streets in New Haven, Monday evening, Oct. 7, at 6 p.m.

The stone will be inscribed with the September death toll of US military personnel and the approximate documented numbers of civilians killed during that same period of time.

Top of the Rock Climate Picnic

by Chris Schweitzer, New Haven Climate Movement

Join the New Haven Climate Movement from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 6 for a picnic at the English Shelter Pavilion located at the top of East Rock Park overlooking the City of New Haven.

This is an opportunity to celebrate New Haven’s passage of a Climate Emergency Resolution, strategize next steps, and most importantly welcome new members. We encourage those who are concerned about the climate disaster and/or want to ensure a safe climate to join our picnic. All are welcome!

Food and beverages will be provided, but feel free to bring anything you want to share. If you do bring something to share, please consider others’ dietary choices and bring either a vegetarian or vegan dish.
If you have any questions about the event, please email newhavenclimatemovement@gmail.com.

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