KEY COMPONENTS OF SUCCESSFUL SOCIAL MOVEMENTS

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"For me, the most important lesson
[of the Freedom Movement] is that by respecting the fact that fellow activists could passionately disagree over strategy and tactics—yet remain allies—they strengthened SNCC and the Movement as a whole."
From Bruce Hartford's article in the current issue of Urban Habitat.
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Friday, April 19, 2013

People Power in Nebraska saying NO to Keystone XL

 Mary Pipher wrote an op-ed piece in the New York Times this week (April 17, 2013 -- Lighting a Spark on the High Plains) in which she talks about "ordinary heroes" combatting the Keystone XL pipeline.  She does a superb job in explaining how people power starts to grow.
Newly minted activists organized potlucks, educational forums, music benefits, tractor pulls, poetry readings, flashlight rallies, wildflower drops in Capitol offices and pumpkin-carving protests. Grandmothers created the Apple Pie Brigade and arrived every Monday at the governor’s mansion with small gifts and letters opposing the project.
 She points to the potential radicalizing role that non-profits can play in creating "newly minted" activists (in spite of their participation in the nonprofit industrial complex)
Groups like Audubon Nebraska, Bold Nebraska, the Farmers Union, the National Wildlife Federation and the Sierra Club worked together to educate and activate our citizens. The League of Women Voters and college students joined to stop what we called the Keystone Extra-Leaky
And how the importance of community as a foundation for an incipient social movement.
How did this amazing set of alliances ever happen? In part, our unity came from our shared history and geography. Many of us are the relatives of homesteaders and modern farmers and ranchers. Whatever our politics, we all believe in the sanctity of home. In the Beef State, we understand the importance of water, especially today, when every county in Nebraska suffers drought conditions. . . .Many of our citizens had seen their parents or grandparents struggle to hold on to family land, and they weren’t about to give up their rights without a fight. . . . .
Mike Miller has always argued that you opponents will inevitably hand you an issue around which to organize people.
TransCanada made the mistake of bullying our fiercely independent farmers and ranchers. Landowners say the company threatened to take their land if they didn’t cooperate and warned them that later offers of money would be much smaller if they delayed. TransCanada also insisted, landowners say, that they sign papers agreeing not to talk to the press or anyone about their agreements.
Many Civil Rights Veterans talk about the transformative effect their work in the movement had on them.  Here is Mary Pipher's take on that effect:
Today, we still don’t know what will happen with this pipeline. But we do know what has happened to us. Our coalition allowed us to transform our feelings of sorrow, fear, anger and helplessness into something stronger and more durable. We became agents of our fates and joined together in what the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called a “beloved community.” We became a state of ordinary heroes who decided that money couldn’t buy everything and that some things were sacred.
And that Freedom is a constant struggle:
The great global skirmishes of this century will be fought over food, energy, water and dirt. Our remote, conservative, flyover state seems like an odd place to make a stand for clean water and fertile land, but we will be at the heart of those battles. We are fighting not only for ourselves but for people all over the world. And we know that everywhere, in their particular places, people are fighting for us. The campaign to stop the Keystone XL is not over. It won’t be over until we give up, and we aren’t giving up.
Mary Pipher, a psychologist, is the author of “The Green Boat: Reviving Ourselves in Our Capsized Culture.”

1 comment:

Yadira Sanchez said...

I think that Nebraska is taking matters into their own hands and are not easily giving up. The fact that various groups are coming together to educate and mobilize its people is very important to bring awareness to the community. Mary Pipher mentions the importance of community and I agree very much agree with her. Once people feel part of the community they are more likely to fight against this Keystone XL pipeline because it affects everyone within that community.