We Like to Move It, Move It -- San Francisco Bay Area Rallies for Solutions to the Climate Crisis
By Rachele Huennekens
Saturday, September 24 was the day that the San Francisco Bay Area put the “move” in the climate justice movement.
The massive parade down Market Street and rally at Civic Center were part of Moving Planet, a global day of action demanding solutions to climate change. The SF mobilization was organized by the Sierra Club, 350.org, California NOW and a broad coalition of 50 Bay Area sustainability, peace, environmental and social justice, conservation, faith, women's, bicycle, clean tech, and community groups, and was by far the largest climate justice demonstration to take place in the Bay Area in recent years.
The day started with dozens of bike rides, community clean-ups and other Moving Planet kick-off events taking place in Richmond, Oakland, Berkeley, Walnut Creek, Redwood City, Marin, and across the SF Bay Area.
At noon, the San Francisco parade began at Justin Herman Plaza, and more than 1,000 Bay Area residents of all ages and backgrounds marched, biked, and paraded with floats, puppets and costumes down Market Street, chanting "hey hey, ho ho, fossil fuels have got to go!" At Powell Street, a 75-member contingent of the Sierra Club’s leaders and delegates from our 64 Chapters nationwide and in Puerto Rico, joined the parade in matching t-shirts.
Arriving at Civic Center Plaza, the crowd gathered in front of a stage to hear rousing speeches from the top leaders of our movement for climate justice. Enviro rockstar Bill McKibben, founder of the international climate campaign350.org, was a huge hit with the crowd, declaring, “the planet has been stuck for too long with governments doing nothing about the biggest problem we've ever faced. This is the day when people will get the earth moving, rolling towards the solutions we need.”
Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune also riled up the rally crowd, saying, “we need to push for the transition from dirty fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy. Moving beyond oil and coal can create healthy communities, less traffic, more jobs and open spaces for exploration and enjoyment with our families and friends.”
In addition to raising the alarm over global climate change, participants in Bay Area Moving Planet demanded local solutions. A bilingual petition in English and Spanish circulated at the Moving Planet parade and rally demanded that Bay Area leaders implement a visionary “Sustainable Communities Strategy” that will reduce fossil fuel dependence, clean regional air, and establish healthy local communities. The petition asked decision makers to prioritize investments in reliable, rapid, and affordable public transit; affordable, inclusive housing; walkable, bike-friendly communities; and protection of parks, natural spaces and agricultural lands.
Environmental justice pioneer Carl Anthony gave a fabulous speech at the rally, drawing the connections between economic inequality, racism, and environmental degradation. Anthony said, “climate justice requires elimination of unfair and unequal burdens created by the fossil fuel economy. We must stop sprawl, invest in public transportation, and build affordable housing in communities that have jobs.”
The diversity of Bay Area Moving Planet was made possible by an awesome collaboration with women's rights, antiwar and peace activists who organized the Peace Day SF celebration that joined with Moving Planet. Peace Day SF organizers Mona Lisa Wallace and Sandra Hanns said, “this Moving Planet rally was not just a protest of climate change and war -- today celebrated peace and the natural world, fostered community, inspired local activism and taught sustainability skills.”
California National Organization for Women President Patty Bellasalma said, "the empowerment of women is central to building peace and ensuring just solutions to the world’s inequalities.”
“We must connect the dots between ending war and the climate crisis,” said Rae Abileah, national organizer for CODEPINK Women for Peace. “The U.S. military is the single largest consumer of oil and the world’s larger polluter, and taxpayer dollars that fund the military could instead be spent on green jobs programs or equipping homes with renewable energy. It's time for the peace and environmental communities to work together for sustainable solutions.”
Amen to that! As member of the much-maligned “Millennial generation” who will be drastically impacted by climate change over our lifetimes, I was inspired to be a part of Bay Area Moving Planet. With more collaboration, organization, and peaceful direct action like this, I believe that humankind will implement solutions to slow climate change and protect people and our planet from further destruction. Like the dancers shaking their booties to the conscious hip-hop music of Ashel at the rally, all we have to do is MOVE!
Rachele Huennekens is Grassroots Media Coordinator for the Sierra Club.