• Shawn Hosford

100,000 - 30,000 - 400

Numbers matter.

While at last weekend’s We Rise for Climate//Jobs and Justice civil action 400 people gathered at Tollefson Plaza in Tacoma. A good friend blessed me with her presence at this one — I repeat my earlier invitations to any of you who would like to experience this kind of action with me.

Due to the very small numbers of people in Western Washington who choose to stand and be counted, our very small gathering included activists from Seattle, Bellingham, and Tacoma. Each time I spend my time at actions, I wonder where my fellow citizens are. I wonder how bad they need to perceive where we are before they step forward to be heard and counted.

Last Saturday in France, 100,000 people gathered throughout their country to Rise for Climate//Jobs and Justice — there were 10,000 in Paris alone. In San Francisco, there were 30,000 who gathered in the city starting on Saturday. Many of them stayed throughout the week to continue protesting at the doors of a climate summit where erroneous decisions were being sold as solutions by some of our political leaders.

At our small action, indigenous speakers shared information about the intersections of climate, capitalism, disappearance of indigenous women, clean water, air, and the long battles of upholding treaty rights. They focused on what is needed in the future. Each time I have the opportunity to hear these leaders speak my understanding deepens and my heart breaks a tiny bit more.

One of the last women to share during the first half of our day was an elder activist who shared history of Puyallup tribal activists. These brave people are not mentioned in any history books or news organizations. Her clear facts and gentle way of dissecting colonization was stunning.

Our next action was to walk to the Northwest Detention Center where 1,500 plus people are being held on a poisoned SuperFund site. We again were honored to listen to educated speakers talk about our government’s inexcusable and inhumane response to immigrants. Many people in this crowd were brought to tears by the experience.

It was a day full of truthful storytellers, faith-filled and fueled for change. I am always amazed at the grace in these leaders as they calmly address dwindling groups about heavy subjects that should attract many. Without fail, every speaker acknowledged the time and energy we were gifting to our greater communities. Where I saw lack, they spoke hope.

When chatting with Mark about my day and lessons learned he noted numbers matter - oppressive power fails to concede without a concerted push. Perhaps as white people in this crumbling country we need to work on shifting our privileged perspectives. Indigenous leaders see hope when we act for the good of the whole, no matter how many are in attendance.

This weekend I showed up for you, even if you didn’t do the same for me. I plan to keep showing up. I plan to continue staying engaged, informed, and outraged. I plan to keep my sense of self-respect in a world and white community that isn’t deserving until it is a space where we can all breathe, mother earth included.

What can you do? What don’t you do? Populations and species are dying — are you wasting time here? What effect are your actions or inactions having? Do you think about that?