Moving forward on climate!

Written by Sven Eberlein


On Sunday I went to the Forward on Climate rally in San Francisco to show my support for meaningful action on curbing greenhouse gas emissions and let President Obama, the fossil fuel industry, and all the other powers-that-be know that building another pipeline is not the way to address our collective addiction to oil

As my friend and Daily Kos environmental writer Meteor Blades wrote here and the SF Chronicle reported, Sunday’s turnout was quite impressive, and the about 4000 people (5000 according to 350 Bay Area) who showed up were quite spirited, considering that it was just one of many side dishes to the main course taking place in Washington D.C.

Forward on Climate Rally in San Francisco's Justin Herman Plaza, 2/17/2013. Photo courtesy 350 Bay Area

Forward on Climate Rally in San Francisco’s Justin Herman Plaza, 2/17/2013. Photo courtesy 350 Bay Area

Put together by 350 Bay Area and 350 Silicon Valley on pretty short notice, over 80 organizational partners signed on and helped make this event a huge success, and as always with these things in SF, a great party.


I got turned on to the Bay Area event through the fine folks at 350 Bay Area, who I’m organizing a bike ride to Chevron headquarters with in May. More on that in another post, but since Bay Nature Magazine interviewed me for an article about this event, I might as well just re-quote myself: 😉

“It’s nice to have something positive to rally around for once,” says Sven Eberlein, a San Francisco-based journalist who is also organizer of Bike the Math, a bike ride and rally at Chevron’s San Ramon headquarters planned for May 29. “I like to try and inspire people to get involved in climate action by making it a positive thing instead of a scary thing.”

Eberlein interviewed Bill McKibben, founder of, and asked him what people here could do. “He said ‘Well, Chevron headquarters is in the Bay. You could go to a stakeholder meeting and ask that they become an energy company instead of just an oil company—if they put 25% of their resources into clean energy, it would make a huge difference.’ Since it doesn’t make much sense to drive to Chevron and then protest fossil fuels, I thought a bike ride to their headquarters would be more appropriate.”

Going to a rally is always more fun to do in a group, so my Daily Kos friends had arranged for a meetup. After snacks at the MarketBar in the Ferry Building, ten of us walked over to the State Department Building at 1 Market.


This being San Francisco, having a rally means having just as many compost bins as protest signs, which as some of you may know makes me happy.


Our group was representing pretty strong with a mother/daughter activist duo…


We even have a plumber among our ranks!


But really, you should check out this family’s letter to Michelle Obama… if only all family’s were as enlightened as these guys…

When we got to the sidewalk everyone was gearing up already, none the least the raging grannies…


and other folks tired of the way we treat fossil fuels as if we had an endless supply of them…


Then the walk around the block started. The signs were so creative. I love the “draw a line in the tar sands”


and “stop hitting snooze”


but I bet nobody was using this particular medium in Washington D.C…


Even the pre-made signs look really good, or is it because of my friend Kim’s glow?


This being SF, there are the intellectual signs…


and the Zen reflections…


There are always the larger than life puppets…


Amandeep bringing on the tunes on his boombox bike..


And your rally is never complete without a Frank Chu sighting…


It was a really diverse crowd. Lots of young ones…


and from all cultural and religious backgrounds…


There was a lot of interacting and talking to each other, one of the greatest things about these rallies. It’s like we’re bringing the town square back, which I think goes into some of the deeper problems and solutions of the climate crisis. We cannot rely on high tech machinery for every interaction, so we’ll have to rediscover the joy in talking to our neighbors and fellow citizens right in the street.

Glen the Plumber was engaging in great civic work by handing out the fliers I had made for the upcoming Bike the Math action…


It wasn’t just signs, but bottles full of tar sands with all the dirty info on the labels were being passed around. I like the creativity…


At 2 pm, Idle No More lead our march to Justin Herman Plaza for a Round Dance, a dance of friendship and to show respect, where Ohlone and First Nations tribes kicked things off with a touching opening prayer.


The Plaza was pretty packed, looking at the stage…


and behind me towards the Embarcadero…


There were a lot of great speakers, from SF Supervisor John Avalos who was talking about getting SF divested from fossil fuel to a representative from Idle No More, whose impassioned account about the fight against the tar sands development started by 4 native women was really inspiring and got the crowd fired up.

Then, the Grande Finale. It so happened right where I was standing, the rolling out of the parachute…


Before we knew it, it was covering the middle of the plaza, and all of us along the edge were in charge of parachuting…


Up it goes…


and the kids start playing…


Wheeeee, forward on climate!


So that was our day. I think it was as much about protesting the Keystone XL pipeline as it was about building community, bringing people together for the ultimate common cause of sustaining that little round ball we all share for future generations.

I’ll leave you with the final impression of inter-generational activism in the making.



crossposted at Daily Kos

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Sven Eberlein

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  • Great pics! Brings the event right into my backyard. I’m really envious of the meetups you guys have in SF. I should have gone to Berkley instead of U of W. Wishing you the greatest success with the Bike the Math event. Hope you have great weather and tens of thousands participate. I feel pretty good about what we all collectively did this last week. Let’s hope we’re in some sort of tipping point regarding climate change. Now I’m off for a walk while the sun is shining in Seattle!

    • Yes, I think it was a great weekend all around, John. No matter how small or large, I think what’s important is for people of all ages and in all places to come together and speak about what’s been largely unspeakable. And I think by doing it with some sense of joy and celebration it makes it easier to face the hard truths together, creating a safe container within which we can do our collective “confessional.” Have fun on your walk today in beautiful Seattle, I’ll join you next time I’m up that way.