Why I Stopped Protesting and Started a Garden

“Certain gardens are described as retreats when they are really attacks.”

— Ian Hamilton Finlay

I quit protesting and started a garden. It sounds absurd at first, I know. But bear with me.

I first woke up to the threat of climate change in 2014 (I was a late bloomer), when 350.org was organizing the first People’s Climate March in New York City. Around that time, I started writing about environmental issues and then joining—and later organizing—protests.

It was exhilarating. It felt empowering. I experienced for the first time in my life the potential of masses of people organized for a common cause. Harvard political scientist, Erica Chenoweth, has concluded that as little as 3.5% of a population participating in nonviolent protest can effect political change. I was excited to be a part of that transformative minority.

Mind you, I never expected protesting, by itself, to change the world. Rather, I saw mass events as opportunities to raise energy and build solidarity, especially among those who participated, but also among those who witnessed from afar. When people would ask me if I thought events like the People’s Climate March “accomplished anything”, I would respond that what those events do is to help people realize that they are not alone, that together they have power when they act collectively, and (this is critical) to motivate them to organize when they go back home.

And so I joined the ranks. Raising my voice. Raising awareness. Raising hell.

Five years later, I was done.

Done marching. Done mobilizing. Done.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST OF THE ESSAY.

Published by John Halstead

John Halstead is the author of Another End of the World is Possible, in which he explores what it would really mean for our relationship with the natural world if we were to admit that we are doomed. John is a native of the southern Laurentian bioregion and lives in Northwest Indiana, near Chicago. He is a co-founder of 350 Indiana-Calumet, which (until recently) worked to organize resistance to the fossil fuel industry in the Region. John was the principal facilitator of “A Pagan Community Statement on the Environment.” He strives to live up to the challenge posed by the Statement through his writing and activism. John has written for numerous online platforms, including Patheos, Huffington Post, PrayWithYourFeet.org, and Gods & Radicals. He is Editor-at-Large of HumanisticPaganism.com. John also edited the anthology, Godless Paganism: Voices of Non-Theistic Pagans and authored Neo-Paganism: Historical Inspiration & Contemporary Creativity. He is also a Shaper of the Earthseed community, more about which can be found at GodisChange.org.

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