© Selvaprakash L
Ever since the I love Arctic human banner was created on April 20, 2013 to show our solidarity to save the Arctic, we the Arctic volunteers have been looking forward to the next phase in the movement. Soon enough, the next global event came up. This time it was a cycle rally that had to be organized. The team was excited and also nervous as a cycle rally was yet another new thing for us. Nevertheless, the team took this as a challenge and a learning opportunity and dived into it.
We started off with a brainstorming session followed by division of roles at the Greenpeace head office. This time we also had the Green Warriors, led by Jagan Vangapelly and Suraj Jagadeeshwaran from Greenpeace with us. This was an added boon to us as our reach was increased through their Environment Education (EE) programs in schools.
The cycle ride, called "Ice Ride" had the elements of a typical Greenpeace action associated with it. The ride needed to include a Shell petrol bunk where we would unfurl a banner asking Shell to move out of the Arctic region. This was really exciting as the team has not undertaken any action-oriented event earlier.
© Selvaprakash L
Anushka Sharma agreed to lead the event this time and was continuously backed by Shiva Sharma from Greenpeace. We had just over a month to do all our preparations for this event. Once the roles were divided, we set off to work on the assigned tasks. Spreading the word about the event through online communities, cycling groups and stores, EE of Green Warriors, word-of-mouth and all other means possible to publicize the event was our initial goal.
Two weeks prior to the day of the ride, we planned for a photo-strip depicting the journey and plight of a dislocated polar bear in Bangalore. Greenpeace volunteers welcomed the bear to the city and followed it through its activities for a day.
© Pinky Gandhi
By September 15th we were all geared up for the big day! Preparations started from the morning with cutting out the polar bear masks to be put on the cycles. Having transported all materials and refreshments to Cubbon Park, from where we started the ride, we started fastening the bear masks to the cycles and sticking the Ice Ride stickers onto the participants. It was a fun experience organizing the participants, the props, the media people's requests and co-coordinating with other volunteers all at the same time!
By 3:30 pm the Ice Ride started with around 100 cyclists and 50 supporters on foot. Things started off well and Brikesh Singh and Sachin Singh from Greenpeace led the cyclists. On reaching the targeted Shell petrol bunk at Vittal Mallya road in the heart of the city the activists unfurled the banner. Soon the police came over and confiscated the banner. Incidentally, this did not go against our event as the message in the banner was visible for a short span and the intervention of the police made it even bigger news!
© Selvaprakash L
We returned to Cubbon Park after a fun ride and having achieved what we sought out to do. The on-foot participants handed refreshments to the cyclists and thanked them for coming and being a part of this global cycle rally that took place in 75 cities and 36 countries on the same day. Of late, evening showers had become a regular affair in Bangalore, but the rain Gods were on our side and we were able to complete the rally without getting drenched.
Bapi Mahanta is a volunteer with Greenpeace India.