By Jorge Quintana
Wednesday, November 14th – climate activists and organizers marched in cities around the country, demanding ‘real’ action on climate change under the banner of “The People’s Climate March.” These marches were primarily organized by big environmental NGOs like 350.org and the Sierra Club. In Miami, a rally and march was held in downtown – the financial epicenter. Almost 1,000 activists convened at Government Center, the former headquarters of Occupy Miami. Swaths of small non-profits, large NGOs, school clubs and organizations, and activists met before marching through the heart of downtown Miami.
The march was short, ending at the Torch of Friendship where speakers took to the podium to express their views and concerns. The event was festive, creative, and informative. Many came in costume, others made insightful and creative poster art, and a Haitian Rara band led the march with trumpets and drums. Representative of Miami, the crowd was diverse, but all gathered to unite under their concern for our environment.
As a whole, the event was inspiring yet ambiguous. It was inspiring to see so many people from South Florida come together to express their collective concern for our home and our planet. As you many know, Miami will be heavily impacted by rising tides. Scientists predict that Miami will be underwater years from now. (how many years from now? Maybe cite something concrete – article or something).
But, the purpose of the event was vague. Some speeches centered on pushing commissioners to do a better job, some centered on electoral politics, and others didn’t make sense. Some elements of the march were bizarre as well. For instance, a business was there promoting their headphones. Many marchers wore these large headphones that played live music from some local DJ. I don’t understand why anyone would want to silence the collective roars and chants of a concerned community of people.
Also no next steps were mentioned at the rally (or at least, I didn’t hear any) Instead, many of the volunteers handed out invitations to a Halloween party in South Miami.*
Mobilizations on their own are not going to address climate change. Rather mobilizations need to be tools of building organization and the movement we need to fight capitalism and climate change. This is why I attended – to look for others to connect with, to find people critical of the system, and to march with the masses. It’s critical opportunities like these where we must be there to make connections and to organize people.
One take-away from the event is that people in Miami are starting to get it. Capitalism is crushing us all. With its constant need to expand and grow, capitalism is blatantly at odds with the planet. Many may not name capitalism as the problem…yet. But, people are starting to recognize that the way we live, the way society is organized does not function in the interest of people and planet. People are recognizing that it takes people in the street, making demands, to make change. It is very rare for 1,000 South Floridians to mobilize the way they did last week.
Climate change could be the issue that stirs something within us here in Miami. The streets are a battleground of ideas. Politicians, non-profits, and the like were there – and will continue to be there at rallies and marches – to funnel people’s frustration and concerns back into the system. It is imperative that we be present so that our ideas are out there as well. It’s our job to convince people of our political line – of the need to understand capitalism and to organize against it if we intend to protect the planet and ourselves from climate change.
*An event to build on the momentum of the march was created and posted to the event page a few days after the march. *