By: Ash Lauth

Tip of the iceberg.The People’s Climate March didn’t just happen in New York, it happened right here in California. And it wasn’t just on September 21st, it’s every day that Californians make a proverbial march against climate chaos. And it wasn’t just the people who showed up in New York or Oakland or San Diego or SLO, or the over 1 million people who marched in over 2600 events globally, it’s all of the people who struggle against the corporate mechanism of fossil fuel dependency, environmental racism, and dirty business as usual.

The People’s Climate March is us. Every day. Until we win.

That sentiment hit home for me at the march. I’ve not always worked on fracking in California. For many years, I lived in North Dakota in the Bakken, working with frontline agricultural communities, and working in solidarity with Indigenous activists on the Fort Berthold Reservation against fracking. I’ve seen the devastation to the land and, even worse, to the community as the shale boom there unfolded. I’ve sat with ranchers as they cried over dead calves from poisoned air. I’ve watched senior homes be evicted for man camps. I’ve talked with farmers about the new depths they have to drill to find water. I’ve been in traffic jams in the middle of nowhere.

All those people, some of whom I saw again, came flooding back to me at that day, and I was renewed again to pick up the flag and raise a fist against hydraulic fracturing. Every day. Until we win.

Voices of Fracking at the March

Our ferocious CAF Banner.

If you thought California didn’t represent, think again. We showed up not only at the march, but at panels and talks. Great minds in the fracking movement including Sandra Steingraber from New York and Kassie Seigel from the Center for Biological Diversity presented strategies on how to up the ante on our fight against fracking. Great women from Indigenous communities also spoke passionately about their struggles against the attack on Native Peoples by Big Oil and Gas. Great allies like the Center on Race, Poverty, and the Environment’s Madeline Stano shared personal stories and reminded us of our interrelated battles.

And our motley crew of Californians joined the masses in one of the largest, most geographically varied sections of the march. We came equipped with our gorgeous Californians Against Fracking and Climate Leaders Don’t Frack banners, and walked as a powerful group in our CAF shirts.

Climate Leaders Don't Frack!

I had the privilege of leading chants with 350’s Linda Capato, which was one of the most humbling moments of the weekend. As we shouted into our megaphones, we were deafened by the response of the thousands-strong fracking contingent. We were struck by the fervor by which people raised their voices in unison, and amazed at how it echoed through the streets for all of New York and the world to hear. We shouted:

When air and water are under attack, what do we do?

Stand up, fight back!

When our children are under attack, what do we do?

Stand up, fight back!

When farms and food are under attack, what do we do?

Stand up, fight back!

When Obama says it’s okay to frack, what do we do?

Stand up, fight back!

When Jerry says it’s okay to frack, what do we do?

Stand up, fight back!

It Takes Everyone to Change Everything

...and everyone showed up.The march was every bit as affirming, beautiful, and uplifting as I hoped it would be. The many facets of our movement, from labor to youth to Indigenous people to frontline communities to solution innovators, came out. Our march was an incredible display of the diversity and vibrancy of our ideas, our passions, and our movement. And the best part? Each group grasped how intrinsically interconnected we are with one another; how we all have to be marching in perpetuity together.

I hope that the momentum of this march ushers us out of a post-Copehnagen world and into a new world of environmental justice, where local voices, fights, and groups take the lead together over big corporate interests and high-level politics. I’m not so naïve to think that this one march will be the event that solves the climate crisis, but I am optimistic that this event catalyzes a shift in consciousness and action, and renews a bolder social movement for a healthy, just future.


The People’s Climate March: Our Moment, Our Movement