Bold Climate Penguins grill Andrew Yang

Dear Friends,

We kick-off this week’s Fallon Forum with Dara Jefferson and Oliviah Walker of the Meskwakie Tribe, discussing the upcoming National Day of Awareness rally for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. It’s at the Iowa State Capitol, Sunday, May 5 at 1:00. Come stand with our Native allies who are fighting to let people know of this tragedy — and let’s do something about it!

On this week’s Forum, I also talk with Sam Kuhn and Matthew Peirce — two young activists who have been instrumental in the success of Bold Iowa’s Climate Bird Dog campaign. Sam and Matthew share a bit about their backgrounds, what brought them to Iowa, and how they’ve been able to make a difference for Planet Earth through asking questions at presidential candidate events.

Bold Climate Penguins with Andrew Yang: Sheila Knoploh-Odole, Kathy Byrnes, Matthew Peirce, Sid Barfoot, Lysa Fisk and Sam Kuhn.

Well, Sam and Matthew’s work goes beyond simply asking questions. On two occasions, Sam and others have pushed the envelope by displaying “Climate is a Crisis” signs at events where they weren’t allowed. Just this week, Sam, Matthew and nine others launched the Bold Iowa Climate Penguin brigade at an Andrew Yang rally.

Yup. Penguins. Like most of the presidential candidates, Andrew Yang seems to get the urgency of the climate crisis, yet fails to prioritize it. Yang claims that poor people don’t care about climate change, and that their attitude is “the penguins can wait in line.”

So, dressed as penguins, six Bold Iowa members sat in the front row at Yang’s Des Moines rally on Sunday. One penguin — Sid Barfoot — asked Yang if he would prioritize climate change, saying, “Full disclosure, I’m not a penguin. I’m a person with financial struggles dressed as a penguin. Those of us at the bottom, we’re the least responsible for carbon emissions — yet we’re the most vulnerable to the consequences of a changing climate.

Video of Penguins talking with Andrew Yang

“Sure, we penguins would love an extra $1,000 per month. But we just found out that the second largest penguin colony in the Antarctic collapsed due to ice melt. Meanwhile, 150,000 people were displaced last year by the deadliest wildfire ever in California, and just this year, thousands were displaced by the unprecedented flooding in the Midwest.

“Neither people nor penguins have time to wait in line while our next president spends political capital on anything like universal basic income. Our question is, will you adjust your campaign’s focus and make averting climate catastrophe your number-one priority, so that both people and penguins win?”

Besides the penguins, others participating in the action were Todd Steichen and Osric Jamerson holding the sign. Not pictured were Pascha Morgan, Beth Chrzastek and Ed Fallon.

The penguins were supported by other Bold Iowa members throughout the audience, two holding a large banner reading “LET THE PENGUINS SPEAK!” Yang’s answer was, well, less than satisfactory. Bottom line is this: If the next president is serious about reducing US carbon emissions by 45% by 2030 (the target given to us by scientists, not politicians), some version of a Green New Deal will have to be their highest priority.

Also, this action resulted in the mainstream media reporting on climate change, in the Des Moines RegisterWHO TV Channel 13, and a brief mention in Politico.

Also on this week’s program, I talk about the Extinction Rebellion (ER) and the incredible ten days of action that shut down big chunks of London and compelled the political establishment to meet with the movement’s leaders. As ER talks about launching a similar campaign in the US, it’ll be interesting to see how authorities here respond.

Ed

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Raising awareness for effective action

Dear Friends,

I’m a big believer in pacing oneself. We’ve got to take time to smell the roses even in the midst of intense struggle. Yet sometimes — often, in all honesty — the demands of fighting for justice require some pretty exhausting days.

Josie Ironshield

The First Nation – Farmer Climate Unity March will be a string of such days. But the importance of this march — raising awareness about the historic lawsuit that could stop the flow of oil through the Dakota Access Pipeline — can’t be understated.

Last Tuesday’s investigative trip to Lyon County to dig into the recent tar sands oil spill was such a day. Well, two days actually, one of them involving numerous meetings and nine hours in a car. Check out the culmination of that trip with this excellent article in the N’West Iowa Review.

Regina Tsosie

Efforts by residents and advocacy groups to monitor the oil clean up will continue, regrettably, as the effort may take over a year. And in a new development that has residents near Iowa’s Great Lakes fuming, soil and plant debris contaminated with tar sands oil is being dumped in their county. Check out this article in the Dickinson County News.

ACTION ALERT: CALL GOV. REYNOLDS AT (515) 281-5211 AND ASK HER TO PUT A STOP TO DUMPING TAR SANDS OIL IN DICKINSON COUNTY.

Christine Nobiss and Dara Jefferson

Sunday was another long day. It started at 5:00 a.m. and landed Kathy and me back in Des Moines after 10:00 p.m. The highlight of the day was the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women rally in Rock Island, Illinois. Check out the livestream, which is both powerful and instructional. I’ve included with this blog a few photos of the inspiring Native leaders who spoke at the event.

Sunday’s trip concluded with a sunset tour of tornado damage in Marshalltown. I was blown away (yeah, bad pun, I know) at how severely the tornado had torn up that community. I’ve been in communication with Chief of Police Mike Tupper and State Rep. Mark Smith. Help will certainly be needed, especially for the low-income families hit hard in northeast Marshalltown. Stay tuned.

Dawson Davenport and Ed Fallon

In other news, a Des Moines Register article reminded us of the one-year anniversary of Jessica Reznicek and Ruby Montoya announcing that they’d repeatedly vandalized equipment along the route of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). I caught flack for my quote in the Register story, where I describe Jessica and Ruby’s action as “misguided” because “it alienated a lot of people who we need on our side. So while I respect and admire their passion, I don’t think it was a wise decision.”

Narcissa Trujillo-Nolen, Regina Tsosie, Larry Lockwood, and Dan Eads

For an injustice to end (and DAPL is unjust on so many levels), you have to continually build more and more popular opposition. Fact-finding, community forums, press releases, protests, nonviolent civil disobedience, lawsuits, speaking out at official meetings — all turned public opinion against DAPL. Torching bulldozers and vandalizing valves didn’t. In fact, it gave pro-pipeline forces an excuse to pass legislation this year classifying DAPL as “critical infrastructure” and creating criminal penalties that could scare people away from exercising their First Amendment rights in the future.

Some have cited Gandhi in defense of Jessica and Ruby’s action. But Gandhi never destroyed property and was always open about everything he did. Most significantly, Gandhi was about effective action. Even his symbolic acts were orchestrated with an eye toward moving Indian and global opinion toward supporting India’s independence from Britain.

Gandhi wasn’t just about civil disobedience, which constituted a very small portion of his work. Much of his effort was behind the scenes, creating new structures to replace failed models that only perpetuated injustice. Gandhi was also about political reform, remaking the Indian Congress Party and raising funds to assure that the Party could operate effectively year round, not just during a showy annual convention.

In the DAPL fight, our most effective action is yet to come: the landowner/Sierra Club lawsuit over the misuse of eminent domain. That case will probably be decided by the Iowa Supreme Court in September or October. In the meantime, whatever we can do to continue to move public opinion our direction will be helpful. I’ve been dismayed, but not surprised, that the mainstream media have mostly ignored the lawsuit.

Let’s change that. Visit Bold Iowa’s Stop DAPL 2.0 page for ideas on how to get the word out through your local or regional newspaper. Thanks!

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