Help No LNG in PVD fight environmental racism and fossil fuel infrastructure

You’ve probably seen my posts about No LNG in PVD, who are trying to keep National Grid from building a toxic, explosive, fracked-gas liquefaction facility, which will increase greenhouse gas emissions, in a neighborhood inhabited by working-class people of color. They need financial support this week. Can you help?

Let me know if you have questions.

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Actual History: Refusal 10 (May Day)

May Day as International Workers’ Day has its origins in the Haymarket Affair of 1886, a double display of state violence: on May 3rd, the third day of a general strike for an eight-hour work day, police protecting strikebreakers fired into a crowd of striking workers. At a mass meeting the following day, someone threw a bomb into a group of arresting officers, and the ensuing police raids and arrests ended with eight men sentenced to death. The state hanged four and later pardoned two; one took his own life in prison. Meanwhile, labor organizers continued their work, and in 1889 the Second International declared May 1st International Workers’ Day.

I also want to talk about another day in May.

Starting–but more about that in a minute–on May 1st, 1867, striking workers in Chicago shut down the economy of the city for a week to close loopholes in a law calling, already for the eight-hour workday. Industries in and around Chicago at that time included meatpacking, garment manufacturing, shipping, lumber processing, iron molding–so we can guess that fewer components were poured and fewer cuffs and collars sewn, that cargo ships sat at their moorings and that meat rotted on the packing lines. A week of people earning no money, drawing from the strike fund if they could. A week in which a city that bragged about how much it could produce, how fast it grew, couldn’t hold onto that pride and had–if only for a week, after which the strike collapse–to admit who made that pride possible.

The strike itself started on May 1st, but the work of making it possible started long before: in conversations, in the nurturing of loyalties, in meetings, in the gathering of resources, in the asking of questions, in the distribution of knowledge, in arguments, in shared meals, in the washing of clothes and the tending of children, in corners, in quiet, under the cover of machine sounds.

The fight for the eight-hour workday is a fight to be owned less than entirely. It says: we won’t let you use us up. It says: we are more than fuel.

*

My attention keeps turning to the failures to refuse in the May Day origin story: the police who, on May 3rd, didn’t have to but chose to fire into a crowd of striking workers. The jury. The hangman. Someone would probably have punished them, or tried to, if they refused, but that’s not identical with not having a choice. Examine your promises: who do they require you to hurt?

The May Day march in Providence starts at 3pm today, in Burnside Park. I’ll be walking with the Climate Justice and Just Transition bloc. Come too.

Alternate History: 5/17, 4/5

5/17/14

I don’t think we understand how much energy the sun provides us. It’s clearing out the devil’s terrain and it’s polluting the air up here … Stuff can be recycled, the rest of garbage can be used as compost, we need reusables, less plastic. My thing is to [word?] that there’s only so much we can do with this oil that’s penetrating our waters. I was in the Bahamas, it was so pristine, the water was so clear–I don’t think it’s like that anymore. Warwick, Cranston, some parts of Providence is in danger. EP is more elevated so we’ll probably be okay. Narragansett, all of that is gonna … The bugs would not be getting this virus if the gas prices weren’t so high. They should spend that extra gas money to dispose of this stuff properly! And how we’re getting sick from a little tiny tick, a mosquito–we can’t go outside past a certain time, we can’t play baseball. My father had a recycling company and he actually got caught polluting the Woonsquatucket. Women are getting cancer, they wonder what’s going on with the frogs … They have no compassion, they’re livin’ large.

*

4/5/15

When the fuel companies, straitened by lowered consumption and left without subsidies, cut everyone’s wages, there was no longer any reason to live in the oil or shale boomtowns, and no one in their right mind would stay on a platform in the heaving, troubled ocean. Meanwhile, floods in the river valleys and droughts in the high plains and chaparral had people, animals and even plants on the move. Everyone from the Girl Scouts to the National Guard helped with the convoys, which most people knew could only happen once–after that, the fuel ran out, and travel would be slow.

Who was living in the land of Canaan? Did they make the travelers welcome? Did they invite them to come there?

In the wet places, the people from the high ground opened their houses to the people from the low ground and the dry ground, or moved in together and handed their houses over, meeting exodus with openness. They brought their skills and their illnesses. Doctors were so busy that banks began forgiving them their mortgages and loans, and medical schools began training students for free. Healers and herbalists took apprentices.

Fifty years later, here and there around the world, people spilled on the earth one drop of water for each of the plagues, for those that struck them and for those that passed them by but struck someone else:

DROUGHT

EXPLOITATION OF LABOR

CARCINOGENS

FLOODS AND DISPLACEMENT

INSECT-BORNE ILLNESSES

REFUSAL OF MEDICAL CARE

DEHUMANIZATION

DEFAUNATION

DEAD WATER

COLONIZATION AND GENOCIDE

They told the stories and then ate together, sharing what they had found.

Sand blew across the dry places, the tan cities. In the wet places, with human sewage and human synthetics slowed down or diverted away, insects emerged from their pupae and the few remaining frogs began to prosper.