Fighting displacement in Fiji, San Antonio's community gardens

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Last Saturday, the website 350.org encouraged people met up to protest dependence on fossil fuels and celebrate community-based activism. The result was 2,000 events across the world for a day of action called Moving Planet Day, a dispersed mix that illustrated how climate change is affecting and being worked on in different parts of the world. We checked in with organizers in San Francisco and Buenos Aires last week (check shots from the celebration in San Francisco's Civic Center Plaza here) and will round out the series with news from activists in San Antonio, Tex. and Suva, Fiji. Their answers spoke to the breadth of the day's significance.

Mobi Warren, founder of 350SanAntonio.org and Moving Planet volunteer coordinator, helped organize two events in her city -- one at a community garden and one at a repurposed brewery, at the same time as a farmers market. 

SFBG: What was the goal of Moving Planet Day in your town?

MW: Increased awareness among citizens; expanded partnerships and new alliances between environmental, civic, non-profit, and local governmental organizations who engage with the issue of climate change from different perspectives; momentum and inspiration for all the hard work that lies ahead.  

 

SFBG: How did people mark the day? What was going on in San Antonio?

MW: We had [Moving Planet Day] events at two venues. One was sponsored by the Health Collaborative, a non-profit that works in local schools and that has a beautiful community garden (next door to the school where I am a fifth grade math teacher -- the Roots and Shoots Environmental Club I sponsor at my school partners with the garden) -- they offered several family-friendly, hands-on activities that explored community gardens and local food as one of the solutions to climate change. They also had two huge pinatas in the shape of Hummers filled with green surprises that children broke open as a symbolic way of breaking an addiction to fossil fuel.

The second event was a larger awareness fair that took place at a popular San Antonio gathering place -- the historical Pearl Brewery -- a completely solar-powered space that has been repurposed and that holds a popular farmer's market every Saturday that draws a good crowd. Twenty groups set up tables with hands-on activities and info related to climate change solutions: green building, alternative transportation, recycling, community gardening, etc. Sierra Club members took on the task of inviting an impressive slate of speakers for the Pearl event. We had state representative Mike Villareal, two Texas  Climate Scientists, Gunnar Schade and Gerald North who gave terrific and informative presentations, and Congressman Lloyd Doggett, a strong advocate of 350.org. There was even a poetry reading as part of Moving Planet in the local bookstore at the Pearl, The Twig. Poets read poems on the theme of climate change and environmental issues.


SFBG: Your favorite part of the day?

MW: The entire event was pretty amazing. We estimate 800 to 1000 people passed through the awareness fair and there was a lot of engagement and conversation going on the whole time. Seeing citizens stay after the speakers' presentations to ask questions and discuss with them how we can better work together on the urgent issue of climate change made me feel that awareness and momentum is growing here in the heart of Texas. But maybe the most inspiring moment was seeing the face of one of my students who came to both venues with her mom and siblings (and this is a low income family that gets everywhere by bus or foot) -- explaining to her family what 350.org means.   

 

Ewan Cameron celebrated two Moving Planet Days -- roughly the first and last ones in the world. The coordinator for the Pacific chapter of Moving Planet Day and part of the organizing committee for Moving Planet Samoa, he participated in a Suva, Fiji walk-bike-canoe-run event. We caught up with him via email before he flew the 719 miles -- and 22 hour time difference -- to Samoa to participate in festivities there. 

SFBG: What is your role in your city's Moving Planet Day events?

Ewan Cameron: I am the Pacific coordinator for Moving Planet as well as a part of the Samoa Moving Planet organizing committee.

 

SFBG: What inspired you to get involved?

EC: The problems that small islands face, the interactiveness of 350.org, the friendship and inspiration of others, and the passion.

 

SFBG: What did Suva get up to on Saturday?

EC: We paddled a six-person canoe, sailed, walked, ran, and cycled from Suva Point to Suva's grammar school and back.

 

SFBG: What, for you, was the most inspiring moment?

EC: Sharing this moment with fellow Pacific Islanders, and with the rest of the entire world, in addition the fact that the Pacific officially began the campaign with in Tonga, and we in Samoa will be the last country to close the campaign. I am fortunate at this moment to be in Fiji participating in the Moving Planet event in Suva, I was here attending a 2 week training, and then I fly out tonight back to Samoa where I live to celebrate our event in Samoa which is the last event on the planet. So I will be in two different time zone.

 

SFBG: How many people attended the event?

EC: Over 50 people participated.

 

SFBG: Why was this such a big deal?

EC: Because the climatic impacts are already being felt, people, and communities within the Pacific are being forced to relocate and are being displaced. These problems are not being exaggerated, Coastal areas are eroding, saltwater from king tides are damaging staple foods that people rely on, climate change is a real issue. The science is there, it can be proven, and on top of that major emitters are violating people rights!


SFBG: What do you hope that Saturday's activities achieve?

EC: Major public pressure on governments to commit to a emissions reduction target that will bring the planet down below the safety level of 350ppm, and a serious, rapid display of movement towards the use of cleaner energy sources.  


SFBG: How did you transport yourself to the festivities?

EC: I walked.


SFBG: Complete this sentence: We can reverse the causes of man-made climate change if we... 

EC: ... stop burning coal, and not allow the burning of tar sands.