By Meteor Blades
I sure wish I were in Vermont this week. I could join writer/environmentalist/deep thinker Bill McKibben and whoever else shows up for a four-day walk seeking to kindle federal action against global warming.
Billed as "The Road Less Traveled, Vermonters Walking Toward a Clean Energy Future," the march will begin Thursday noon at Robert Frost's old writing cabin near Ripton, stop in cities along the way for Conversations on the Green, and end 43 miles up the road in Burlington. Knowing McKibben's work and the kind of people he attracts, I imagine those are going to be eye-opening conversations for participants and bystanders alike, a traveling teach-in, if you will. You can get a taste of this in my five-question interview with McKibben below.
Many, I know, downplay the value of a public demonstration, even public action of any kind outside the realm of lawsuits and legislation. Sooooo '60s, they say. Doesn't work anymore. If it ever really did. I couldn't disagree more. Perhaps the reason people say this comes from their being so comprehensively saturated with a megamedia caricature of the era. They don't believe most or any of what the megamedia tells them about the times they themselves live in, but they accept as gospel what's been told them regarding one of the periods of greatest social change since the Civil War.
The public intellectuals and other activists who spurred that change worked inside and outside the governing system, using whatever megaphone seemed proper at the moment to capture public attention and increase the pressure on public policy. What you mostly hear about that era today is the media-mediated version, a distorted fraction of the story. That's not my way of trying to sanctify the "protest" movements or say that we made no mistakes, no strategic blunders, or engaged in no counterproductive activism. Surely, we did more than enough of that and were paid for it with half-victories and outright defeats, some of them long-lasting. But, please, most of the focus, even most of the public events, had nothing to do grubby street demonstrations.