The story didn’t end with Gasland Part II. It continues everyday. Josh, the Gasland team and myself, want to bring that story to you in an exciting new form, The Not From Gasland Journal.
From Lee Ziesche, Grassroots Coordinator:
I wanted Josh’s Power Shift speech to be the first post of our Not From Gasland Journal for a few reasons.
After touring for months, I think this speech embodies a lot of what we experienced on the road. Josh talks about many of the people whose stories we shared through Gasland Part II screenings and others we met along the way.
I feel the speech sums up the true heart and guiding principles of the movement and where they should lead us going forward.
Power Shift took place in Pittsburgh, the first city to ban fracking in the world. 6,000 young people, the future of the movement, in the city that showed us the way could not be more appropriate to set the stage for the story we want to tell.
I’m from Pittsburgh. The woods, rivers and people of Western PA are a huge part of who I am and what keeps me motivated to fight. They are my story and that’s what this is about. Our stories.
When I listen to and read Josh’s speech, I can feel the energy of the thousands of people in the room. His words and their spirit allows me to know, somewhere deep inside, without a doubt, that I will be a part of the story that will change the world. I hope it does the same for you.
(Josh begins at 38:27)
TEXT OF JOSH’S SPEECH FROM POWER SHIFT:
Welcome to Fracksylvania
I want to tell you a little something about the song that I just played that I learned from Pete Seeger. I was introducing him. If you don’t know who he is you can Google him later. I was introducing him, 94-years old, one of the great authors of this movement, of this country, and he said, “You know that was the biggest hit song of 1814. A fellow sang that song in a bar and it was such a big hit he had to sing it twice. And at 4 miles an hour, clip clop clip clop, all the way across the United States that song became the most popular song in our nation. And one hundred years later it was adopted as our national anthem.”
And if a bar song can become our national anthem, then really we’re all just making up the United States as we go along. And anything is possible.
You are writing the next great chapter of the United States of America.
The movement to ban fracking has spread all over the world. In France we just won. We had the entire country of France ban fracking. The Netherlands just banned fracking. We have a movement to ban fracking in nine countries in Europe. In South Africa. In Australia. New York State is still frack free. There are five ballot initiatives in Colorado. There’s one in Michigan. There’s a ban fracking movement in California. But do you know where all of this started? Do you know the first place in the world to ban fracking?
That’s right. The great city of Pittsburgh.
Doug Shields, the city council, it starts here. You’re on hallowed ground in Pittsburgh.
When the natural gas industry came to my doorstep in the Upper Delaware in Pennsylvania, across the state, in the watershed, and I knew I was surrounded by people who had leased, this was probably the loneliest and scariest day of my life.
But I’m not so lonely anymore.
How does this happen? How does a room like this happen?
I was down in Guy Arkansas, a place that had 1000 earthquakes in a year. And I met this lady named Susan Frey, the earthquake lady. She had a plumb bob attached to the bottom of her coffee table. Every time it moved she’d look up the earthquake on the website and sure enough there was one. Most of the quakes were micro quakes. But then a 4.7 knocked her husband off of his La Z Boy and put cracks in the walls of the local high school. And I imagine that as he hit the ground something happened.
Or Amee Ellsworth in Colorado, whose water was so flammable and contaminated with methane that she could light it on fire out of her sink. She was showering in the dark because she was so afraid that a spark from her light bulb would blow her up in her shower. And I can imagine her standing there dripping, naked in the dark, terrified, something happened to her.
Or the Gee family, in Tioga County Pennsylvania. Five generations on the same land. Shell built a six well horizontal fracking pad 200 feet from their bedroom window. Their pond was contaminated. Their water was flammable. They had to sell out and sign a non-disclosure agreement, selling their house of five generations to Shell. And as they walked out on their first amendment rights, forced to walk out on their own first amendment rights to tell their story, away from their home and their right to tell their story, and left the house, closing the door realizing they didn’t have to lock it, I imagine something happened to the Gee Family.
Or Lois Frank, my good friend, the former chief of police of the Blood Tribe in Canada, who stood between her ancestral lands and invading fracking trucks. And as she was arrested, the former chief of police, just like so many were arrested in New Brunswick yesterday, I can imagine something happened.
With drilling and fracking in 34 states, frac sand mining in a half dozen others, tar sands development in the west, oil shale in California and North Dakota, deep water drilling in the gulf and super storms in the east, Mountaintop removal for coal destroying Appalachia, the keystone pipeline proposed to run down the center of this country like a scar that won’t heal- we are all members of front line communities. We are all in the target zone. That’s our story. That is what is happening to us. That’s why we’re here.
So. President Obama. What happened to you? We delivered you 650,000 signatures on a petition to ban fracking on public lands. What happened to you, that your response was silence?
It was a grassroots movement that elected you president. How can you be ignoring the largest grassroots movement for environmental justice and democratic reform in decades?
This is on you.
We don’t just need you to stop the Keystone XL pipeline. We don’t just need you to ban fracking on public lands. We need you go out there and campaign for us as we campaigned for you.
I know there can be no democracy without freedom from fossil fuels. I’ll say it again. There can be no democracy without freedom from fossil fuels.
I know I have a coal-fired power plant vibrating in my pocket
The text message reads:
LOL I just blew up your favorite mountain
I have a fracked gas well at home in my kitchen
I vote for okra, for brook trout I caught behind my house
But if I don’t storm the streets my recipe doesn’t include democracy
I have an oil spill on every station in my car radio
And I have trails of exhaled carbon floating in supermarket aisles
toppling over with 3,000-mile tomatoes
and 6,000-mile kiwis
Every meal I eat has a frequent flyer account
And every buzz, click, whirr and chime on one or another object
clinging to me is my consent.
But I have to remain optimistic.
I know we can run the world on renewable energy.
I met with French wine makers in Ardeche, the origin of that ban fracking movement in France. They won. They said we’re fighting off fracking to defend our wine. We have to be optimistic. We make wine. It’s our job to make people happy.
And as a filmmaker, I feel the same way. And as a participant in this movement, I feel the same way.
We are creating change right now. We are creating a change in the climate right now. The change in the political climate. The change in the climate of how it feels when we come together as communities. The change in what it means when we believe in ourselves. That’s climate change I can believe in.
We have to have values going forward even as things change.
We must remain human, as Tim DeChristopher said last Power Shift, as the climate changes.
So what do we have to do now?
We have to do what feels right.
Look, I’m not an organizer. I can’t organize a sock drawer. I don’t even have a sock drawer. Some of you know what I’m talking about.
But I can make a film. I can do that. So that’s what I did.
And you have to enter this movement in whatever creative way your individuality summons you to.
But that’s not all.
You have to be a foot soldier. You have to show up. When Bill McKibben and Naomi Klein told me come and show up in front of the White House and get arrested to stop the Keystone XL, I showed up.
And when the great organizers of this movement call upon us to stand in Illinois, to stand in front of the drilling rigs before they roll in, when we pledge to defend that home state of Obama and make it an issue for him, we have to show up.
When our democratic candidates in the state of Pennsylvania, we have 6,000 gas wells in Pennsylvania and 1,000 families petition to the DEP with water contamination, and not a single democratic candidate running right now for governor supports what 62% of Pennsylvanians support, which is a moratorium on all gas drilling and fracking in the state of Pennsylvania, when those democratic candidates don’t stand up for the majority of the people, when the organizers call upon you to bird-dog those candidates, those men and women seeking to represent Pennsylvania, you bird-dog them until they support the moratorium.
Because if we are not in the streets, we aren’t anything.
I know movies don’t change the world. Our own individuality is a small part of this. Organizing changes the world. Showing up changes the world.
If we can find a way to take those great collective actions, I know that you will write a great story. You will write a great song, like the girl right before me. I know that you’re going to write a great history and change the world.
We’ll be posting a couple times a week here, sharing posts from folks we met on the road, updates from the subjects of Gasland and Gasland Part II and a lot of pictures and stories of things we experienced on the road.
But we also want to hear from you. Send me an email at email@example.com if you want to us to share your story.