Alberta Views, a magazine from Alberta, Canada, has just published an article on activism in general, and the tar sands in particular. While we have said plenty on the tar sands themselves, it's interesting to look at their take on activism.
The way Greenpeace takes action makes a lot of people uncomfortable - and it should, as the things we bring attention to don't feel good. 1600 dead ducks. Poisoning of waters. I can see how someone might feel uncomfortable about that. The truth is, I am very uncomfortable about the idea of water being poisoned and 1600 ducks dying. It doesn't mean it shouldn't be said to authorities:
At the beginning of their trial in March 2010, after Stelmach told a reporter that he hadn’t yet seen photos of the ducks, Greenpeace showed up at the Legislature to present the premier with giant, gift-wrapped pictures of the oil-soaked birds.
Another thing the article mentions is our work behind the scenes. Some say that Greenpeace "stunts" overshadow the research that is done quietly. But writing reports and researching is a complete part of Greenpeace's work, and is not in a separate bubble - the two complete each other. A report on green jobs, and how the province of Alberta will benefit from green development is essential to have the province stop exploiting tar sands. But we also know that these kinds of reports, as good as they may be, often end up at the bottom of a pile on some bureaucrat's desk unless we take action to defend them.
“Green Jobs” is a comprehensive and forward-thinking document that seeks to prove one of Greenpeace’s fundamental arguments about oil sands development: that economic prosperity and environmental stewardship needn’t be mutually exclusive.
Last but not least, as a side mention, the article brushes the topic of how activism is part of democracy. I wish they had expanded on that, and the fact that democracy consists in a lot more than voting every few years. Democracy is a participative process, and citizens have a duty to speak truth to power, when power is overstepping its rights and working against the public interest. Whether it's holding BP accountable for spilling oil in the Gulf of Mexico, or holding BP accountable for creating toxic waste in Alberta, we can't leave off our actions to a vote once in a while. And that is what activism - and democracy - is about.
>> Read the article here