Yesterday we concluded a month-long odyssey of community engagement and immersion with a culminating activity that mixes the odd combination light painting, digital activism and public mobilization.
Together with other 350 Pilipinas volunteers, who’ve taken the monicker ‘Team Pixel’ we braved the late afternoon downpour of the monsoon rains to be able to execute our virtual march to project the photos more than 500 frontline communities, activists, students, artists, churchgoers, and other climate advocates at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani.
We did the action because we believe that the shifting political landscape in our country requires us to creatively go beyond the current menu of action tactics available in the Philippines, where the ever increasing attacks of civil liberties, human rights and the shrinking democratic space challenges movements to provide a platform for people who cannot physically join a protest to be ‘present’ –especially for those in the frontlines of destruction where the power of guns, goons and gold trample the rights of impacted communities.
Personally in my field of digital activism, I have recently observed that rather than empower –digital activism has made its limits more known with the advent of petition platforms and social media meme gimmickry, where convenience takes precedence over the need to go out of our way to speak truth to power.
People are rising up around the world to demand real climate leadership from all levels of government. The virtual march is our way of showing how people everywhere are committed to a fast and fair transition to 100% renewable energy for all.
In a nutshell it is just a hologram protest that bridges online and offline activism by collecting photos through online submissions, and loading it into a Pixelstick a digital rod that projects light images for long exposure photography. Aside from online submissions, the photos came from the more than 30 communities and organizations engaged by 350 Pilipinas. It is is part of the Rise For Climate global day of action on September 8, which includes over 700 other actions in 88 countries.
Rise for Climate is being held days before the Global Climate Action Summit, a gathering of mayors and local governments, business and civil society in San Francisco, California on September 12-14 September. It aims to showcase climate action taking place around the world, and inspire deeper commitments from each other and from national governments.
As part of the movement we are challenged to give a face to those who are living the real meaning of climate leadership, those on the frontlines of the climate crisis, demanding that governments likewise rise up to the challenge. Countries must ramp up their Paris Agreement pledges to reduce emissions and help vulnerable communities adapt to the already worsening impacts of climate change.
Real climate leadership means power in the hands of people not corporations. It means economic opportunity for workers, and justice and dignity for frontline communities that are the hardest hit by the impacts of the fossil fuel industry and a warming world.
This is a tall order.
One that cannot be merely resolved by marches real or virtual. It means engagement, organizing, creative confrontation and the perseverance to build consensus out of varying self-interests for the long haul.
On Saturday, sectors will be staging a Rise for Climate march at the Quezon City Elliptical Road, at the heart of Metro Manila, it may not be the silver bullet we need for urgency and ambition in responding to the climate crisis, but nevertheless we can look at it as a part of our struggle to define history as a narrative where ultimately the interests of the many for the common good triumphs in spite all odds.