Transformation is Long Work

I have spent the past week reveling in the beauty of the climate strikes mingled with many ongoing grassroots fights for justice. I feel deeply connected to and grateful for the energy that is rising. I am also conscious that this one moment didn't achieve the transformation we need – not yet.

This is for all of you who have been building the world you are certain we need, doing it sometimes quietly and sometimes very loudly. I see you. Your long work has created the conditions that made this week possible.


For some, this week was a beginning. For many others, it was a moment in a journey already underway. I’ve been focused on how will we meet all those who are rising. How will we turn this beautiful energy toward the long work of transforming the systems that shape our communities, nations, and world? This is the question that is driving me as an organizer.

“Revolution is not a one time event.”
– Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches

The truth is that most of our individual fights end in ways that are easily defined as “losses.” That’s not a criticism. It’s an honest recognition of what it’s like to try to shift systems of domination through sustained resistance and efforts to build the world we envision. Shifting systems takes the kind of power that we don’t have just yet. That means we have to build it together. We need to find the work that feeds our spirits, take care of one another, hold on to the people who rise to meet us, learn to work in ways that protect us from burnout, and resist the temptation to tie our sense of self-worth to the outcome of this pipeline fight or that divestment effort.

We need to hold on to one another while we are welcoming new energy and new leadership into the work of transformation. We need to acknowledge and stand behind the leadership of frontline communities who have lived with resilience and creativity in the face of generations of colonization, enslavement, and extraction. 

I spent a lot of years feeling despair after huge, beautiful marches and rallies and direct actions that turned out to be one-off events. I was an organizer for many of them. We would show up with our demands and our signs and our lock boxes. We were beautiful. We were powerful. But interlocking systems of domination find it pretty easy to ignore these bursts of passion. It wasn’t until I decided to try a sustained campaign of nonviolent resistance in West Roxbury, MA that I began to feel real hope for transformation. I’m finding it again as we build a sustained campaign to shut down the coal-fired Merrimack Generating Station in Bow, New Hampshire.

At the Climate Disobedience Center, we want you to know what we are doing to try to build people power and the resilience to stay strong in the long work of transformation and pushing against the status quo. We hope you’ll keep working with us, and we also want to know what you’re doing where you are.

This Saturday, September 28th, we are taking the next step in our campaign to close the last big coal plant in New England. What began in August with a dozen activists removing over 500 pounds of coal from the fires of climate destruction, will grow into hundreds of activists coming to the plant and taking direct action. There’s still time to join us and bring your friends and to sign on for the long haul.

Eliminating coal in New England is just the first step. As we build the power of our movement, and build the power within each of us, we will have even bigger and more intimidating struggles to come. But this is what we were built for. 

Revolution is not a one time event. But we show up one moment at a time. I hope to see many of you in Bow, NH this weekend. And I hope all of you will let us know how you’re building for transformation where you are

In gratitude,
Marla Marcum (on behalf of the Climate Disobedience Center team)

P.S. Our work is almost entirely supported by individuals like you. We stretch every dollar, and we are grateful for donations in any amount. You can pitch in here.

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  • Marla Marcum
    published this page in Blog 2019-09-26 13:03:47 -0400