EDITOR’S NOTE – For info about a free roundtrip bus on Saturday from Mobile to this demonstration go to the Facebook event page for Gulf Coast Interdependence Day. You can sign up as a volunteer and RSVP to attend and find out details about the bus and other matters. The free bus will leave from the Tillman’s Corner Wal-mart parking lot at 7:30 a.m. No RSVP necessary.
By David Underhill –
MOBILE, Ala. – Every age imagines it is unique. So big doses of doubt should be applied to all wails of despair that the End Is Near! Countless cults have calculated the Final Hour and awaited it with ecstasy, only to discover when the prophesied time arrived nothing disappeared except their doomsday cult whose predictions proved false.
Yet we here now are tempted to believe that in this moment the end actually is upon us. We have armed ourselves with thousands of nuclear weapons which, if ever used, hold little prospect of winning any victory worth having but radiate the prospect of wrecking the societies that built them and poisoning all life on earth. We have created technologies belching junk skyward in volumes turning the climate into a simmering crock pot and riling the weather. Within recent days the rains and floods in Louisiana have set records never before seen in the era of accurate measurement.
These things truly are new. They invite contemplation of whether the Last Days really loom. Speculation about them has escaped the realm of fantasy or theology, entering into observation, science and plain sense.
And some Gulf Coasters aim to do something about these challenges by building a movement to grapple with them. These people realize that many groups with different backgrounds and facing different daily problems are not well served by the ways of life we have devised. But they share a need to create new ways that serve more of us better.
Dem Bones Walking Intersectional Streets
Such views are lately being termed intersectionality in big-word circles. That’s a tongue twisty way of expressing the wisdom woven into old songs like Dem Bones: The toe bone’s connected to the foot bone, the foot bone’s connected to the ankle bone, the ankle bone’s…
These connections will be on display Saturday, August 20th during a march through the streets of New Orleans. It will partly mimic a demonstration there last spring by hundreds of protesters who surged into an auction at the Superdome by the federal agency peddling offshore drilling leases for oil and gas. They were chanting Shut It Down! Keep It in the Ground! The feds responded by deciding to conduct the following auction, scheduled for Wednesday, August 24 in New Orleans, mostly online and out of public view.
Saturday’s march will object to this and will expand to express other overlapping regional concerns. Led by a New Orleans style (also Mobile) Mardi Gras brass band, it begins at 10:30 a.m. in Lafayette Square Park downtown and will pass the nearby skyscraper headquarters of Shell Oil’s exploration and production operations for the Gulf of Mexico.
But then, crossing many intersections, it goes also to the site of a 1973 arson attack that killed 32 people in a bar frequented by folks not strictly devoted to Biblically defined male-female roles. And it goes to monuments erected after the Civil War honoring heroes who tried, but failed, to maintain their heritage and its peculiar institution of slavery. Lately they have declined – so far – demands that it’s time for them to climb down from their pedestals and retire to a quiet historical park set aside for their rest. The march will end in the French Quarter at a ceremony on the banks of the Mississippi River to remind everyone of our kinship with water.
For info about a free roundtrip bus on Saturday from Mobile to this demonstration go to Facebook page Gulf Coast Interdependence Day. In the Details section click on the Action Network RSVP and volunteer sign-up link. Fill out the Attend This Event form to get details about the bus and other matters.
Just Transition Not Just a Transition
They include various activities leading to the lease sale on Wednesday. All convey the message that it’s time for a just transition to a way of life not addicted to extracting and burning fossil fuels, especially for the Gulf coast, which has become a sacrifice zone concentrating these ruinous practices mostly for the benefit of others elsewhere. And a just transition cannot be just a transition from one form of energy to another. To be fair and to endure it must combine with a social transition.
The billions in fines and compensation assessed against BP for its reckless offshore oil geyser in the Gulf might go toward weaning us off oil. Instead these billions are provoking a scramble by local governments for financial caulk to plug budget holes and for projects that actually increase the chances for a repeat BPish blowout. Weighty clout-wielders in the Mobile area have been urging use of the BP stash for mega road and bridge construction binges – which would increase traffic and fuel consumption, which would increase the itch for offshore drilling in deeper, riskier waters. To accommodate such drilling others are hoping to use BP bucks for enlarging the ship channel to get more and bigger offshore service vessels and oil tankers in and out of the harbor.
Instead, the BP bonanza could pay to start building the infrastructure of an alternate energy future. But that can’t happen, politically, without the sustained support of those whose meager livelihoods have depended on jobs in or attached to the oil sector. To win such support anybody advocating a defossilized world must offer plans for employment in a new energy economy that are visible, believable and simultaneous with shutting down the fossil fuel economy. Otherwise these folks, quite familiar with the thousands of wells plugged and abandoned when pumped dry, will see that they are scheduled for the same outcome.
So they will be suspicious of – and many will fervently resist – any transition, regardless of how much chatter they hear about a just transition. And they will welcome media mouths, preachers, politicians and presidential candidates who tell them they don’t have to change. Everything will be glorious again if they simply revert to the times when America was great.
Olympic Selfie of the Future
Such seductive appeals come when the U.S. women’s Olympics gymnastics team has in the past two weeks given a glimpse ahead. These youngsters’ supple strength did indeed briefly Make America Great Again, reducing the rest of the world’s premier gymnasts, although superbly skilled, into wobbly bumblers by comparison. And this team consists of: a generic Middle American blonde, a Jew from Massachusetts, a Puerto Rican from New Jersey and two with mostly African roots – coached by an immigrant from Romania.
That’s a selfie of the U.S. future. There is no demographic or economic route leading back to the America that was. Anybody who believes such a route exists is headed down a mighty bumpy road toward a dead end.
During these same two weeks another view ahead arrived in the form of the catastrophic Louisiana flooding. Perhaps this calamity will sober those so intoxicated with hatred of government they can’t see that we’ve pushed the environment to the extreme and only concerted public action could pull it back from the brink. But little evidence of reformative revelations has yet surfaced from these troubled waters.
Pending that, people around the swamped zone are pleading on social media for donations of relief supplies and are driving the collections to the tens of thousands flooded out of their homes. This is the least that should be done for the victims of yet another disaster.
But prevention is far superior to recovery and resilience. So the drivers in these spontaneous relief convoys should swing through downtown New Orleans, if they’re anywhere in the vicinity Saturday, and join the march. Or link with the later activities building toward the offshore lease auction on Wednesday the 24th.
Anybody not ferrying supplies to the flooded can board the free bus from Mobile (among other coastal areas) Saturday morning for the round trip to the demonstration. Then you will be doing your part, which is assigned to you whether you perform it or not. Because, as the song says:
Shoulder bone connected to the neck bone
Neck bone connected to the head bone
Now hear the word of the Lord.
Dem bones, dem bones gonna walk around
Now hear the word of the Lord.
© 2016, David Underhill. All rights reserved.