The organizers, endorsing organizations, and volunteers behind last Saturday’s STOP THE FRACK ATTACK Event in Washington, D.C. did an absolutely amazing job.
Hours before things officially got underway at 2 pm, they were out on the West Lawn of the Capitol, in the full hot sun (temps stayed in the 90s all day), setting up mock fracking rigs, a soundstage, all kinds of collateral materials, and so forth. By the way, and I don’t know if selling merchandise on government property is prohibited, or if the donors for the event wanted it this way, but none of the tee shirts, signs and posters, pins, bottled water, noise-makers, newspapers, stickers, pamphlets, printouts of maps and chants for the march and so forth were for sale … everything was just “would-you-like-one?” free.
We went over from our nearby hotel around noon, found a shady spot outside the wall of the actual lawn and settled in there. We met several interesting people, and made some new fb friends, including Joetta and Ward Hartman from, if I recall correctly, Lycoming County in eastern PA. At one point I turned to my left and standing right beside me was GASLAND producer, Josh Fox! It was a real privilege to get to thank him for his work and share a bit of conversation with him.
This little grotto was a few steps into the park from what turned out to be the bus drop-off. All of a sudden the place started filling up as every 10 or 20 minutes another bus from another state or region arrived. When Marcellus Protest and the Southwestern PA region contingent entered the grounds, it was with typical ratchet-it-up style, leading with the FRACKING DRILLING SPILLING KILLING banner, and chanting HEY HEY HO HO, HYDRO-FRACKING’S GOTTA GO! Loved seeing everyone, so many familiar faces, and waves!
The rally began right on time with an interfaith program of music and prayers, followed by individual speakers talking about what fracking has done in their backyard, their state (e.g., New York, Colorado, Montana, California, Texas, West Virginia, and of course Pennsylvania) or their country (e.g., Belgium and Australia). Josh Fox spoke about Power and Democracy, saying: “We need to take back our power in the form of renewable energy. We need to take back our power in the form of democracy … and justice.”
Although it was awful hot, everybody stayed tuned in to the messages. Medics circulated among the crowd (one sweet pixie visited me every so often … she even popped up here and there along the path through the city, later!) to see if anyone needed water, assistance of any kind, etc. Attendees walked around taking pictures of each other, and of each other’s signs. Media folks and videographers circulated capturing quotes and messages. Pittsburgh former city councilman Doug Shields was the last speaker; no one better to rev things up and get folks ready for the next part of the day – the March!