On a bone-dry October day in Oakland, Calif., activists from Food and Water Watch, UC Berkeley’s Students Against Fracking, and a group of folk singers called the Occupellas gathered to celebrate the third annual Global Frackdown. Food and Water Watch launched the Global Frackdown in September 2012 in an effort to eventually ban fracking worldwide. On Oct. 11, more than 250 anti-fracking events took place on all seven continents.
The Oakland Frackdown wasn’t your typical ultra-serious, anger-mongering protest, though. It was more like an upbeat outdoor festival, with food, music, silk-screen T-shirt making, and even a flash mob that did some slick choreography to Britney Spears’ “Toxic.” Attendees sang along to the Occupellas’ revolution songs, tweeted messages to Gov. Jerry Brown, and generally got one another jazzed about the movement to ban fracking in California.
And that battle is particularly fraught right now. Thanks to a surge of interest in the state’s oil and gas reserves and little chance of a statewide moratorium on the practice, citizens are bringing the issue to county ballots. San Benito, Santa Barbara, and Mendocino counties will all put fracking bans to the voters on Nov. 4.
Fracking is a climate issue, argued student organizer Wes Adrianson, but it’s also a justice issue, because the communities in California most affected by fracking are largely low-income communities of color. “They’ve banned fracking in Beverly Hills,” he said, “But not Baldwin Hills, right?”
Of course, as long as oil and gas interests throw millions into defeating the measures — and manage to avoid real science on fracking’s risks — it’s unclear how this will all play out. But the Frackdown was a hoot, and activists are optimistic. “This is the movement of our generation,” said student organizer Kristy Drutman, her voice infectiously self-assured, “and this is the movement that’s gonna change the game, pretty much.”
Check out the audio slideshow above for some Frackdown highlights.