San Francisco Moves the Planet

Written by Sven Eberlein

Yesterday people across the globe came out to make their voices heard about our collective need to trim down fossil fuel consumption. There are amazing and uplifting photos posted from every corner of the planet on the Moving Planet site.

Living in San Francisco, I didn’t want to miss out on what our creative Bay Area citizens would contribute to the cause of our lifetime. Not surprisingly, it turned out to be the massive and colorful show of support we’ve come to cherish about our little left coast global village.

Some thoughts, impressions, and clips of a bikelicious day on the bay…


I hopped on the BART train and went down to Justin Herman Plaza where the march up Market Street to Civic Center was scheduled to start at noon.

The first person I ran into was this guy, one of my all-time favorite activists, a good omen for the day.


Aside from Gandhi I couldn’t find anybody at the “official” Justin Herman Plaza, so I figured these two ladies would lead the way to our destination.


Sure enough, on the other side of the plaza, right across the Ferry Building, a pretty good crowd had already gathered.


Watching people get ready is always one of my favorite parts…


Cyclists are going to play a huge part in this movement, and they were well represented…


all the signs…


the creative costumes…


the humor…


that sign belonged to Bill, one of the organizers, whose bike I really liked…


But it wasn’t just hard core activists. These guys from Sungevity, a residential solar panel installer, were rolling out their gigantic statement on a piece of linen…


And yes, you saw that right, that’s a zipline above that has been flying 750 feet across the plaza for a few months now. Next thing I knew, a guy with a big 350 sign comes flying right above…


You know you’re effective with your messaging when you get the tourists’ attention…


Almost ready to march. Just some last minute pep talk…

“I quit my job to become an activist. It was a stupid move, but I had to do it for my children.”

and then we were off…


Old and young…


And all different species…


I really liked how many young folks were making their voices heard…



Here’s a video I made of the street vibe:


Just for once, cars had to yield Market Street to pedestrians. Why not all the time?


This is what a street without cars but lots of transportation looks like…


We got up to Powell Street shopping district where “Consume Less” said hello to “Consume More”


If all the shoppers played chess instead, we’d be so much more energy-smart!


Jesus met with the generation that will finally free America from the tyranny of oil…


Just a great and beautiful crowd…


A sight to behold!


There were powerful statements, both verbal…



and non-verbal…


and some distinctly San Francisco…

Frank Chu in action

The Naked Guy

Then we got to our destination, Civic Center…


where the solar-powered stage had been set up.


The large crowd had gathered…


SF Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi talked about how San Francisco was the first city in the world to ban plastic bags and how each city can make a huge difference in bringing down global carbon footprints.


State Assembly Man Mark Leno talked about Community Choice Aggregation to put clean power in the hands of the people, and urged Governor Brown to pass AB 684, a bill that allows farmers to grow industrial hemp.


Sierra Club Director Michael Brune talked about the importance of SB 375, a new California law that requires California’s Air Resources Board (CARB) to develop regional reduction targets for greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), and prompts the creation of regional plans to reduce emissions from vehicle use throughout the state.


Then Bill McKibben came on, and told us about all the great events happening around the world. Here’s my video…


I know some folks say that these events don’t do much and that it’s all just preaching to the choir. That may be true to some degree, but a lot of folks hear about these issues for the first time when they’re out and about town and ask what’s going on. But even more importantly, it’s a way for those of us who are trying to inspire these changes to connect with each other and realize we’re not alone.

I like the internet and all that the multiple twitters and tweets and likes and shares can do, but a computer screen just never evokes the same kind of feeling as being in the flesh, with real human contact. Ultimately, what we’re talking about here is what’s happening in real life on this very real and 3-dimensional planet, so to me that’s where the real solutions must take place. It doesn’t always have to be a rally.

Many of the solutions take place every day, and much less spectacularly. It’s when we’re talking to our neighbors, growing our tomatoes, riding our bikes to work, helping out a random stranger, buying fresh produce from our local farmer, that we are transforming the world one step at a time, without much fanfare. But sometimes it’s nice to come together on a big stage, compare notes, make our voices heard in amplified fashion, and celebrate and commiserate together on our big journey we share on this magical planet.

So keep on keeping on, there is no problem too big, no step too small, and no voice too unimportant. Let’s move the planet back into harmony with all its inhabitants.

Crossposted at Daily Kos for the Moving Planet series

About the author

Sven Eberlein

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  • Hey Hey.
    Ho Ho.
    Fossil fuels have got to go.

    I have a feeling that chant is going to be in my head all day.

    Thanks for the inspiration.

    How many people do you think participated?

  • Hi Ruth, yeah, it was a pretty contagious chant. It’s always hard to tell with crowd size but my best guess is it was somewhere between two and four thousand people. Definitely enough to make you feel like we’re not alone.

      • Roger, who said anything about the IPCC and the UN? We had thousands of people in the streets of San Francisco calling for clean energy. Whether you agree with the sentiment or not, you can’t say that that’s not democracy. I can’t think of a better expression of democracy than being in the street voicing your concerns, and that’s what this post was about. It’s okay to argue with the premise of the post, but it’s not okay to make up stuff that’s not there.

  • Sven,

    The IPCC is telling us that we are poisoning the planet with anthropogenic CO2 and to save the planet we need “clean” energy.
    This is the propaganda that the people of San Fransisco are taking on. (I am for clean energy too but the life giving gas CO2 is not dirty or a problem unless it gets to about 100,000ppmv ).
    It is democratic to express ones views as you point out, but it is hardly sensible to claim that democracy is being “recovered” when the end result of that activity may be the loss of that democracy.



    • I know you think that CO2 is no problem, and that’s your prerogative. I’ll go with what the IPCC, EPA and the overwhelming majority of scientists say on this issue. We’ll just have to agree to disagree on this issue, Roger.