I just came back from a meeting of Climate Friends on Whidbey. There is a planned protest at Chase bank for February 16th, and I agreed to help them with it. Unfortunately, I can’t go to the protest in person, but I helped in other ways.
Tonight’s meeting was a planning session as well as a friendly gathering for like minds who may not personally know each other. We all brought some food, most homemade with local, organic ingredients, because we’re all Whidbey loca-nerds. There was a bean soup, from a bean locally sourced from Whidbey and a homemade pizza with local winter veggies. I made pumpkin bread with a pumpkin I grew in my garden.
I realized a couple interesting things about the meeting. These people are really my tribe. We spent fifteen minutes explaining to each other how our potluck dish was organic, eco-friendly, and locavore. And we were at a meeting to discuss protesting banks funding climate change and other atrocities. According to 350 Seattle, “Chase is the largest funder of extreme fossil fuels on Wall Street—and in 2017 they actually increased their financing of tar sands by 400% and of coal by 2,100%”.
So, tomorrow, we are organizing a protest to raise awareness to Chase bank customers what they are supporting by banking with Chase. Awareness is key in some of these situations. In 2016 when Chris and I first heard about Chase helping fund the Dakota Pipeline, we immediately did more research, found a bank we supported, and closed our account. It was really that simple for us. Tomorrow, another friend is going to close his credit card with Chase, even though it may hurt his credit score to do so.
While making logistical plans for tomorrow’s protest, I made another realization about this group. And why they were giving off “My Tribe” vibes. At first, there was some discussion about how to handle police, which made me a little nervous. Why would police get involved. Were we doing anything wrong? Turns out, when you protest NEAR a bank, police get nervous. But we truly aren’t doing anything wrong. However, a few of my fellow Climate Friends wanted to ensure we stayed as positive and friendly as possible, even to the bank tellers working.
Rather than just protest outside the bank, we want to assure our fellow community members we aren’t protesting THEM. While my friend is closing his account, another protestor is going into the bank to offer donuts and an explanation about why they are protesting. It isn’t that we want Chase to close it’s branches and put people out of a job. That’s not what this is about. We want Chase to stop funding actions which affect the climate and environment.
We also wanted to focus our message, which showed me why these folks were my tribe in the best way. There were quite a few signs with messages on them, but we chose the three we felt had the most positive action associated with them. Rather than just tell people to stop funding climate change, we wanted to give them something TO do. We chose signs and slogans which focused on positive actions, not negativity.
This is ZooFit’s way. Focus on the positive. Talk about what we CAN do, not what we shouldn’t do. We focus on the issue, not the middle man. When I talk about boycotting palm oil, I don’t rub in people’s faces that the Nutella they enjoy eating is full of palm oil. I just lead by example, and don’t eat the delicious looking Nutella rolls. If asked if I tried it, that would be my opening to discuss why I don’t eat Nutella. I focus on raising awareness, not raising hell. Focus on the good things brought to the table, not all the things we COULD have done.
I do sorta wish I could attend the protest. There’s going to be dinosaur costumes. I mean, they hit the final aspect of ZooFit- make it FUN. DINOSAUR COSTUMES! That protest is going to be a riot!
That protest is going to be quite a show. Good luck, Climate Friends. Have fun and stay safe. I’ll be with you in spirit.