‘I Will #ActOnClimate’ Bus Tour: Coming to Michigan on Aug. 5th

When President Obama introduced his plan to address climate change, he said, “The question now is whether we will have the courage to act before it’s too late.  And how we answer will have a profound impact on the world that we leave behind not just to you, but to your children and to your grandchildren.”

The President has pledged to take action to combat climate change if Congress won’t act. And, in honor of this pledge, the “I Will #ActonClimate” campaign has launched a 21-state bus tour aimed at highlighting local support for the president’s proposals to reduce pollution in our air and water and promote more clean, renewable energy.

Nearly two-thirds of voters (65 percent) support “the President taking significant steps to address climate change now,” according to a February 2013 poll for the League of Conservation Voters.

The “I Will” Act on Climate bus tour (#ActOnClimate) is supported by a diverse set of local, state-based, and national public business, health, and environmental organizations. Organizations across the country are joining in this effort by bringing the ‘I Will’ bus to their local community, highlighting impacts of climate change and opportunities created by climate action, and calling for local action. Local spokespeople will be available for interviews.

Good news: The bus will arrive in Michigan on Monday, August 5! You can show your support for climate action by attending — and spreading the word about — events in Muskegon and Detroit.

The entire journey is being chronicled in podcasts and blogs throughout the trip and can be viewed at http://www.iwillact.us.

The bus at a stop in North Carolina

‘Oil and Water Don’t Mix!’ rally opposes expanding oil pipeline at Mackinac

More than 30 climate-change activists from Ann Arbor joined Bill McKibben and hundreds of others for a July 14 rally to bring attention to Enbridge Energy’s plans to expand the oil pipeline that runs under the Straits of Mackinac.rally at Mackinac

“Just like the Keystone XL Pipeline, this pipeline threatens efforts to build a renewable energy economy, especially if they use it to carry tar sands oil from Canada,” according to Monica Patel, policy specialist at the Ecology Center and director of the organization’s Ann Arbor 350 campaign.

“But what’s even more scary is the risk that this 60-year-old pipeline will burst, spilling crude or even tar sands oil into the Great Lakes,” Patel said.

In a recent report, the National Wildlife Federation pointed out that pipelines at the Straits carry 20 million gallons of crude oil and natural gas fluids each day from Wisconsin to Ontario.

The pipelines were in the straits in 1953—the year President Dwight Eisenhower took office and four years before the Mackinac Bridge was opened to traffic.

“If either of those pipelines leaked, the resulting oil slick would likely devastate some of the lakes’ most bountiful fisheries, wildlife refuges, and municipal drinking water supplies,” the NWF report said. “A significant rupture would cause an Exxon-Valdez scale oil spill
spreading through Lakes Huron and Michigan, the heart of the largest freshwater seas in the world.”

Oil and Water Don’t Mix was brought together by Traverse City 350 and
many many allies throughout Michigan; a huge crowd showed up in this fairly remote spot, and stayed for hours,” Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org, said in an e-mail after the rally.

“And I got to explain how these local battles fit into the global one: even if that oil doesn’t spill in the Great Lakes, it will eventually spill into the atmosphere in the form of carbon, changing the climate,” he wrote. “In fact, the water level on the Great Lakes is already falling fast because they don’t ice over for much of the winter any more, allowing increased evaporation.”

Slideshow from the event:

Oil and Water Don’t Mix! A Rally for the Great Lakes

rally-for-great-lakesOn July 14, climate activists from around Michigan will converge at the Straits of Mackinac to protest the pipeline that runs underneath the Mackinac Bridge. This 60-year old pipeline connects the aging pipeline infrastructure in Michigan with the tar sand fields in Western Canada. The Enbridge Pipeline system pumps crude oil under our lakes and through our communities, to be turned into Petcoke, which is haphazardly piled on the banks of the Detroit River.

Ann Arbor 350 is organizing a bus, to make sure that Southeast Climate activists have the opportunity to participate in this important event. The bus will leave Ann Arbor at 7AM, and will return that evening. Bus tickets are $15 and some limited scholarship opportunities are available, to reserve your seat(s) on the bus, click here or email us. Please invite your friends, and bring along your family.

350 Climate Action Training – And Summer Heat

This past weekend, the Ecology Center and Ann Arbor 350 hosted a leadership training with Justin Haaheim, a climate action training facilitator and coach. All weekend, 25 Southeast Michigan activists worked together to learn about leadership, story-telling, and building effective and inclusive organizations to advance the climate movement.

Justin Haaheim

We thank Justin for sharing his experience, and his insight, and of course everybody who participated. We are beginning to grow deep roots and connections across Southeast Michigan, and now it’s time for this movement to blossom.

Moving forward, we agreed to work together to get people to the closest 350.org Summer Heat event – the July 14 Rally for the Great Lakes to protest the use of the dirtiest tar-sand oil, and the pipelines that pump it past our communities and threaten our rivers and lakes.

If you want to participate, please sign up at this link. We are looking for those who can give rides to others, as well as those who need transportation.

Power to the People: Petcoke Resistance in Detroit

People Against Petcoke Protest – Monday, June 24, 2013

When the news of the petroleum coke piles dumped along the Detroit River broke last month, I’m sad to say that my immediate reaction was not surprise. The petcoke piles are just another notch on the continuum of pollution and environmental injustice in Southwest Detroit.  Ever since my mom chose to move back to the city of Detroit two years ago, I’ve become used to the mysterious soot that seems to coat every outdoor surface and to the pungent smells that radiate down the block of my family’s home in Southwest Detroit.

As a brief reminder, the piles of petroleum coke (“petcoke”) have been deposited along the Detroit River, just east of the Ambassador Bridge to Canada, since the fall of 2012. Petcoke is a byproduct of burning crude tar sands, and it is estimated that every barrel of crude imported from Alberta results in an output of 60-130 pounds of petcoke. The petcoke being deposited along the Detroit River is only the beginning. The Marathon Oil Refinery in the 48217 zip code that produces this substance recently went through a $2 billion expansion in order to be able to process more of the tar sands, and thereby produce more of the petcoke.

It pains me to know that my family is suffering the side-effects of such environmental injustice while I live, work, and go to school in Ann Arbor, enjoying the privilege of clean air that is so often taken for granted.  So when I learned that the Detroit Coalition Against Tar Sands (DCATS)-a division of the Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands (MI CATS)– had been formed and was working on action around the petcoke piles, I was thrilled that people were taking action to combat the injustices my home community have been facing.  On Sunday, June 23, DCATS organized a march, rally, and action called “People Against Petcoke.”  At 3pm, we all met in Clark Park–a hub for community events in Southwest Detroit–where we heard several amazing speakers, from DCATS organizer Jarret Schlaff to the inspiring Charity Hicks.  From Clark Park, we marched the 1.8 miles to the site of the largest of the petcoke piles at the intersection of Rosa Parks and Jefferson Avenue.  Once there, we heard from more speakers, were fed exorbitant amounts of pie and pizza, and got direct action training, in which we practiced making consensus decisions and dealing with police, workers, and our fellow activists.  After the training, we walked down to the riverfront to join in a candlelit vigil at dusk with fellow activists across the river in Windsor, Canada.  It was windy and the candles flickered in and out, but the sense of solidarity emanated from one side of the river to the other nonetheless.

A group of people kept a presence at the site of the action overnight, and at around 8:30 the next morning (July 24), they began a blockade to stop a truck carrying petcoke into the site.  I arrived around 9:15 and linked arms with the brave people who had stood in front of the truck to stop it.  There was a large cardboard padlock tied with string across the drive into the dumping site, behind which stood several police officers and border patrol, the numbers of which increased throughout the day.  In front of the padlock stood about 25-30 activists, about 7 of whom had arms linked directly in front of the truck, and the rest of whom stood in successive rows behind those who were willing to risk arrest for the action.  We held a press conference in which we read a “People’s Eviction Notice,” which ordered Marathon, the Koch Brothers, and Matty Maroun (the property owner) to shut down the docks and the discontinue the illegal dumping of petcoke.  We had incredible press coverage, and our police liaison did a spectacular job of communicating to the police that this blockade wasn’t about just “making a point.” It was about turning the trucks around and not letting anyone dump petcoke in this space anymore.  Therefore, when the police asked us several times to pack up and go, our response was that we wouldn’t leave until the petcoke was moved.

The morning continued on, and the amount of trucks waiting to enter the facility/dumping ground increased.  Several of them turned around, but when the action came to a head, there were 5 trucks piled up waiting to get in.  One of them–the one we stood directly in front of–held petcoke.  We held signs with the Marathon logo that read “Murder” and signs that informed that Koch brothers that Detroit is NOT their dump.  Once in awhile the wind would pick up and we would all be coated in a layer of petcoke. When I returned home I discovered the cap of my water bottle was filled with the substance and the sign I was carrying had a thin layer the black, oily grime on it.  The police were incredibly cooperative, and kept underlining that they didn’t wish to make any arrests that day.  However, as the hours came and went, they began to give us warnings that if we didn’t move, they would be bringing a paddy wagon to arrest us all.

The 7 people standing directly in front of the truck were prepared to be arrested; they had come to a consensus that they were willing to do so, and we had written the phone number of the legal aid on all of their arms and were beginning to prepare for the process of getting them out of jail.  Just before the paddy wagon had appeared, however, a worker from the facility we were blockading the entrance to appeared to negotiate with us.  He explained that it was really important to get the trucks that weren’t carrying petcoke into the facility, and that if we backed up the blockade, he would make the truck carrying petcoke turn around and wouldn’t let any other petcoke trucks return for the day.  When we asked how we could trust him on this promise, he pulled out his wallet and handed it to one of the protesters.  We confirmed that his I.D. and other important information were in the wallet.  The decision was made to back up the blockade to allow the petcoke truck to turn around and let the other trucks through.  As we backed up, the police line backed up, and several people were in tears as the petcoke truck turned around.  It was truly one of the most beautiful and cooperative outcomes I’ve seen at a direct action.  DCATS–the organization responsible for coordinating the action–has vowed to continue its resistance until the petcoke piles are gone.

The illegal dumping of petcoke in the city of Detroit is just a small piece of the destruction created in every step in the process of fossil fuel production and consumption.  I stand with DCATS, MI CATS, the Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance, and everyone else across the country and the world standing up against the fossil fuel industry.  All power to the people!


Try to flip through these photos and not be moved.

This is a slideshow of images sent into 350.org from around the world of people just like you and me, connecting the dots on climate change. Here’s a message from 350.org co-founder, Bill McKibben:

We’re going to need you soon to fight the political battles that will make use of these images, but for the next day or two just relax, and enjoy the feeling of solidarity that comes from knowing there are millions of people thinking the same way, harboring the same fears and, more importantly, the same hopes.

On we go together.

Here’s our submission:

By the way , don’t forget to mark your calendar: Bill McKibben’s coming to Ann Arbor in September.

5/5/2012: A2 Connect (350.org’s Connecting the Dots)

Our goal is to assemble a representative set of how many people care about our climate crisis as well as why (how it impacts us). On 5/5/2012, we’ll be at the Ann Arbor Farmer’s Market with “dots” — including blank ones — asking farmers what their thoughts are. You can join us then.

BUT you can also join us before that, but taking these 4 easy steps:

The most important step: ASK FOR HELP WHEN YOU NEED IT. We have construction paper, some ideas, and access to volunteers. We’re happy to help and would be sad to know you didn’t participate because something fixable stood in your way.

Step 1: Pick a location or idea that illustrates how climate change impacts us locally (e.g., Dexter/tornado after-effects)

Step 2: Make a climate “dot” — take a piece of paper, cut it into a circle, write why you picked the site

Step 3: Take a photo of yourself or someone else holding up the dot at the site you’ve chosen.

Step 4: Send your photo to annarbor350@ecocenter.org OR to poses39first@photos.flickr.com

We’ll post photos as they come in:

Moving Planet – Washtenaw County – September 25th Outcomes

The action for 350.org’s Moving Planet Day in our community happened on Sunday, September 25th at Liberty Plaza. Over 70 of us gathered together to share our vision of how to move our area away from fossil fuels.

Here’s a look at our vision and proposed action items by issue area (feel free to contribute in the Comments section below):

Overarching questions

  • What is our vision for the future of our region re issue area?
  • What progress is already happening?
  • What steps can we take to achieve our vision?
  • What is one thing we can ask our leaders over the coming year?


  • Vision: equality, justice, efficiency, equal access to core resources, self/local sustainability
  • Needs:
    • vibrant, centralized community areas for gathering
    • inclusionary zoning – put core (food, water, energy, housing) services in high density areas
    • neighborhood bases services: farming, food, markets, bike repair
    • co-ops for: power/energy, food production
    • rolling art festivals
    • more DIY Home energy improvements and weatherization


  • Vision: efficient + reliable systems that:
    • Reduce need for individual vehicle ownership
    • Reduce/eliminate dependence on fossil fuels (also: booming Michigan economy)
  • Needs:
    • Mechanisms to protect bicycles from vehicles:
    • own lanes, barrier walls
    • Extensive, interconnected, efficient high speed rail or other public transportation
    • Create roadways for non-vehicular traffic only
    • Develop walking/bicycling (school) buses
    • Public transit
    • Maintain downtown transit center
    • Make biking safer – more bike lanes!
    • More people will bike!
    • Culture of calming traffic
    • Pedestrian safety signs
    • (keep off vegetation)
    • More in-city housing
    • Relocation assistance for long-distance commuters
    • Extend bus lines
    • High Line on Huron


  • Vision: beautiful high density areas that support bountiful local food economy and healthier people.
    • Specific: Walk into park, yards, anywhere and not have any fear of toxins
  • Needs:
    • Centralized community areas for restaurants + groceries
    • Neighborhood units that share:
    • Garden work, seeds, skills, tools, processing + preservation
    • Support cottage food industry
    • Passive irrigation training & infrastructure
    • Share skills
    • Spreading idea of permaculture
    • Email group, public demo of it, tours of them
    • Teaching about “weeds” and native plants
    • Hold a reskilling of food
    • Policy: protect water & soul as part of healthy ecosystem (include this as a filter for any decision)
    • Allow chicken coops in neighborhoods
    • Require them to be safe from dogs, raccoons, etc.
    • Buy and eat locally grown food when possible


  • Vision: an education system that nurtures community and reaches all levels/types of students and closes the education gap
  • Needs:
    • Investment in schools/teachers
    • Mechanisms for community to support schools + vice versa
    • Walking & bicycling “bus” system
    • Plus other ways for community members to aid students and get both outdoors
    • School gardens, teaching kids about healthy foods, seeing, tasting, and producing the differences


  • Vision: Clean drinking water for al in county, ability to swim/recreate in all parts of Huron river
  • Needs:
    • Invest in WATER ACCESS research
    • Build passive irrigation systems
    • Ban use of drinking water for toilets, landscaping, etc.
    • Invest in water technology research
    • Stop the use of herbicides and pesticides that contaminate our water supply.
    • more water fountains
    • to test our water regularly, find what healing property of the water we have like minerals and also testing level of radiation, what bacteria are there
    • Minerals in water can be healing (sulfur), or can make one sick (lead)
    • Chemical level, chemical in H2O are linked to Cancer (i.e. lymphoma)


  • Vision: reduced use/reliance on fossil fuels + clean air, less light pollution (see Milky Way from A2)
  • Needs:
    • Phase out 2-stroke engines (leaf blowers)
    • Energy-focused building code (residential and commercial)
    • Tax credits/Low interest loans for EE/RE Upgrades
    • Local power co-ops
    • Neighborhood-scale re-installations
    • Increase use of heat pumps — For heating and cooling
    • Geothermal — is this the same thing?
    • NG Service Stations for larger vehicles
    • Transportation = HUGE
    • Mass transit w/ community input, land use planning
    • Weatherization
    • For rental housing programs
    • Updating building code to reflect today’s circs (e.g. 2×6 walls)
    • *carbon tax- other levelers of playing field
    • Strong Dist/Gen, net metering policies
    • Promote solar currents at residential scale
    • Community adv. to neighborhood scale installment, energy co-ops
    • Communicate EE the way we do bond return (% savings per year)
    • Buses: investigate technologies
    • Assess county land for solar capacity
    • Invest in energy storage infrastructure
    • Hydro? Is it a low hanging fruit?
    • Wiring regs. in building code – examine these for efficiency
    • Solar hot water was not cost effective for 7 bldg. condo last year
    • How to make it so?
    • Create opportunities for large scale residential or muni-owned installations/improvements
    • Make LED at carports do-able

Moving Washtenaw County

How can we move the inhabitants of the Huron River Watershed off fossil fuels?

One way to start is by making a statement on September 24th, 350.org’s international Moving Planet Day.

Ann Arbor 350 is working with community partners throughout our area to send a strong message to decision-makers on September 24th. For starters, we have a Google Site where you can join the conversation. We’re encouraging folks to assemble 1-2 friends for an small-scale action (here’s a registration form and links to some ideas) and then come together as a community later in the day for a collective action.

Please join us: We can’t move Washtenaw County without you.