Enbridge Tar Sands Resistance Tour in Stevens Point, WI.

Enbridge Tar Sands Resistance Tour in Stevens Point, WI.

I am still reeling (in a good way!) from the Enbridge Tar Sands Resistance Tour, a 16 stop / 16 day whirlwind organizing tour across the Great Lakes region to spur and connect the growing movement to stop pipeline expansion and keep tar sands oil in the ground.

The tour was planned by Energy Action Coalition, MN350, MI CATS, Indigenous Environmental Network, the Sierra Club, and too many other local organizations to list. We traveled from Detroit through six states to Minneapolis along the Enbridge Lakehead system, a large pipeline network that carries most of the tar sands oil used in the United States.

Every night, our program covered the story of tar sands from global to local: beginning with stories from Alberta, tracing the Enbridge pipeline system and its climate connections into the Great Lakes region, and hearing first-hand accounts from organizers living near Enbridge’s Kalamazoo tar sands spill. We listened to diverse local speakers from each area we visited and planned for bigger, more ambitious things to come.

Here’s a photo from the Stevens Point WI stop on the tour — I think it shows some of the energy and determination of the people working to stop Enbridge.

This tour contained too much to sum up in one place. If you want to get a taste of why this movement is so special, here are some of my favorite moments from the road:

In Chicago, we heard from Ebony Parker, a union worker on strike from the BP Whiting refinery, the nation’s largest tar sands refinery. She talked about the unsafe working conditions at the refinery that present hazards for the employees and the community at large.

In the Twin Ports of Superior, WI and Duluth, MN, our Q&A session with community members turned into an action planning session and we decided to take our large tar sands banner to Enbridge offices the following morning. We ended up with a packed six-car caravan, and the impromptu rallies turned into an organizing meeting which lasted most of the afternoon.

In Harbor Springs, MI, our stop was held at the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians tribal government center, complete with a guitar band, drumming, a potluck feast, and an amazing lineup of speakers, including a wonderful look at the steps the band is taking to block Enbridge’s expansion efforts.

The tour is only the beginning — we’ll be continuing to fight back at the Tar Sands Resistance March on June 6 in Minnesota and the Remember Kalamazoo healing walk July 24 – 26th in Michigan. We know we’re stronger when we stand together as a community from across the Great Lakes region.

Now I’m sleeping in my own bed again, dreaming of the movement we’re creating together across the region, despite the odds — a movement with knowledge of the moral urgency of keeping tar sands in the ground and with the heart to keep fighting and win. The picture of the Great Lakes region reflected in this tour gives me real hope.

Together, we’re building the movement this challenge requires. I’ll see you in the streets,


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