Last weekend I participated in something incredible. 350.org, an organization started by environmental activist Bill McKibben, organized the second major action against a proposed project known as the Keystone XL pipeline. This project would carry oil from tar sands in Alberta, Canada over a 1,700-mile route to Texas for refinement. The first action, a few months ago, was based around civil disobedience and nearly 1,200 people were arrested, including prominent scientists, celebrities, and public figures.
This time the mission was to literally encircle the White House with people. As far as we know, this had never been done before. What better way to send a message to the President than to surround his house?
We had no idea how many people exactly it takes to make an unbroken ring around the White House, but with over 10,000 people rallied in the adjacent park, we split into groups and headed off to give it a shot. Not only did we make an unbroken circle of people around the White House, we wrapped around it more than twice. And today’s news? Obama will send the Keystone XL pipeline project back for another full evaluation, delaying any decision for a year and likely killing the whole dang thing. It’s not often we get to see mass public action have such an immediate and dramatic effect. If it holds, this is a win for the environment and the movement for a sustainable future.