This was posted by my colleague Madeline Ostrander at our mothership blog, but I thought it belonged on Gristmill as well.
What do Washington Congressional Rep. Jay Inslee, the AFL-CIO, a car-sharing company, and a radio DJ have in common? What about swimmers doing a polar bear dip in the Willamette River, a Unitarian Church, and Portland Commissioner Eric Sten? They and thousands of others are, for the first time in history, united on climate change.
Founded by writer Bill McKibben, Step It Up is the largest and most diverse citizen day of action on climate change the U.S. has ever seen. With 1,300 gatherings in cities and small towns across the U.S., could Step It Up be the climate movement’s turning point, its “Selma” or “bus boycott” as one activist suggested in yesterday’s Oregonian? Step It Up organizers hope so, as the events catch a wide net of supporters — companies, churches, national labor associations, peace groups, local governments, conservation organizations, and thousands of citizens collectively urging Congress to take action on climate.
In Seattle, nearly 50 partner groups — including Grist; the AFL-CIO and United Steelworkers; coalitions of peace activists and churches; Sightline Institute; the League of Women Voters; and the Sierra Club and other environmental organizations — are bringing Rep. Jay Inslee together onstage with Presbyterian minister Lisa Domke, student activist Emily Duncanson, Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, and King County Executive Ron Sims. Organizers are expecting thousands from the Puget Sound area to turn out for one-mile march ending in a rally and sustainability fair.
In Portland, citizens can hear Commissioner Eric Sten speak at a downtown rally; attend the Mazamas Melting Mountains Conference on the plight of Northwest glaciers; join a bike ride; or plunge into the Willamette River.
Boise residents can join Mayor David Bieter at a concert for climate action with singer-songwriter Steve Eaton and others. And in Montana, rallies are gathering in places like Glacier National Park and downtown Helena.
Beyond the Northwest, Salt Lake City is planning the “grandest Step It Up event in the nation,” as reported by New West, with headliner band Los Lobos. In Los Angeles, activists will drop melting ice on the Hollywood Boulevard sidewalks. Key West’s Step It Up features scuba divers. A Wyoming event will send mountaineers to climb and ski the state’s highest peak. And Boston, New York , Philadelphia, Chicago, and other major cities are rallying thousands.
Visit stepitup2007.org to join a Step It Up event near you.
And in Washington state, residents can celebrate that the state is on the brink of becoming one of the few states with a law setting targets for cutting greenhouse gases.