More than a week after the final Break Free action, and I’m still reeling from the beauty and power of what this movement accomplished.
Here’s a new video that helps share this awe-inspiring picture of a growing movement with the world — take a moment to appreciate what we can do together, and then hit share to spread the inspiration:
There’s a lot to learn from this moment. Here are some important lessons from Break Free that I think should shape our work moving forward:
We’re more powerful together. The defining feature of each Break Free action was mass participation to escalate campaigns: in other words, getting more people to do more than they had done before to stop fossil fuel projects. This dynamic opened the door to thousands of new people joining actions, or joining them in new ways, and pushed campaigns to new heights of local and national news coverage.
We can be serious and joyful at the same time. This is a serious moment for our planet, and our movement. But by bringing people together, we can create joyful moments of power, opportunity and hope — exactly what this planet needs right now.
Build bridges locally and globally. Here are two of my favorite Break Free stories. In Germany, participants in Ende Gelände (who shut down a coal mine and power plant for 48 hours) talked about how their conversations with a Nigerian activist joining actions to break free from oil helped ground their action in a global struggle. And then in Albany, New York a local organizer who has been fighting toxic, explosive oil trains in her neighborhood for years called the thousands of Break Free participants in town their ‘spinach,’ adding strength to locally-rooted projects for justice. This shows how building bridges across movement and geographic boundaries makes our fight so much stronger.
We have the fossil fuel industry worried, so be ready for anything. Many Break Free actions generated reactions from government or industry, despite the global commitment to disciplined, peaceful action. In South Africa, the country’s most powerful family used every tool possible to silence a protest of their coal holdings; in Germany, Ende Gelände participants were targeted by the far-right; in Ecuador Yasunidos members have been threatened with suspension from their jobs for protesting oil; and in the United States Big Oil has launched a nationwide, multi-million dollar effort to discredit climate activists trying to keep oil in the ground — and now 350 and our allies are being targeted by Congress.
Despite all of this, people power won the day, and will continue to — as long as we stay ready for anything.
Make a place for everyone. Not everyone at Break Free actions joined civil disobedience, but everyone had a role to play, which is why so many actions were successful. People cooked meals, arranged transportation, shared on social media, or joined our Digital Witness project to monitor actions from around the world — and that’s why this worked.
Seize every moment, and never give up. This is a scary moment for the planet — but thanks to you, there’s never been a better time to break free from fossil fuels. Let’s keep going.
Thank you for your inspiration, your participation and every other contribution to this movement,