“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.