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After the Attacks: A Climate Organizer’s Notes from Paris

David Solnit Nov 15, 2015

I'm in Paris for the month helping with arts and action preparations for Dec 12 and other climate justice mobilizations here, helping to set up and support an arts space in Montreuil, on the edge of Paris.
CLIMATE COP & MOBILIZATION: The French government announced the COP Climate Summit will happen. The French group Attac said today:

“We reject in advance any restriction on the right to protest and fight against this decaying world, in favor of the alternatives that peoples of the South and the North put forward together. From November 29 to December 12 in Paris on the occasion of the COP 21 and with our citizens' mobilizations , we will show that another world is possible, necessary and urgent.”


LOVE WILL WIN: I emailed to check on a few new local friends I have made in my last week and half here. One email response: "We are under shock (we know all these bars, restaurants, stadiums, concert halls, this is where we go, where we have fun, my family, my friends and I, where my daughter is meeting her friends, where I was supposed to go to a concert yesterday, and the list goes on and on..). We are strong and we know that love will win."


ALTARS: My fellow organizer from 350 Duncan writes from Paris, "There’s blood, sawdust and circles of white chalk marking the location of bullet casings on the corner of my street in Paris this morning. Less than 12 hours after a group of people walked up to the corner and started shooting people at random there, groups of onlookers are gathered in the street, leaving flowers, candles and taking pictures." More at: (…/133…/paris-november-14-2015)


'IT'S GOOD TO PLAY MUSIC ON A DAY LIKE TODAY': I was up all night checking on friends and following horrible news updates. An artist I've been working had a friend hurt–the only one I know connected to the injured or killed. Friends from the inflatable art group Tools for Action slept at the artspace–there was still violence near their lodgings in Paris The community hosting our art making, Jardin D'Alice had an opening of their new home/community space, where we are being hosted in our art-making space with their friends and community. People celebrated the new space, a kind of defiance of the horrible night before. An amazing band with big brass section layed, people danced, drank local beer from the just-finished bar, while art making for the climate justice actions continued in the back artspace.

A group of us went to brainstorm and draw ideas about how we would address the attacks the night before in our resistance at the Climate COP. I drew the back view of a man in a suit pointing a gun at the earth on the left, with the words "War, Injustice, Climate Chaos" on his back. He was in front of a mirror and his reflection was the front of man with the word "Terror, Fundamentalism" pointing a gun at a crowd on the left side that said "Paris, Beirut." Later, one of the musicians from the band said to me, 'It's good to play music on a day like today."


DON'T BACK DOWN: It's too familiar to see our movements pushed down by the complex back and forth of fundamentalist's waging of attacks on civilians and global capital waging attacks on everyone and the planet. I was in Scotland as part of anti-G8 global justice and climate mobilizations in 2005, when the London bombing went off, shutting down our political breathing space and ability to engage. Or in 2001, when parts of the global justice movement, feeling the fear and repression of Sept. 11 in the air, cancelled a massive direct action mobilization against the IMF and World Bank in DC planned for the following month. Our global justice movements never recovered momentum. There's too much at stake for climate justice movements to back down even an inch, though of course we need to re-think HOW to most strategically mobilize and take direct action at this moment.


This article was first published as a Facebook post by David Solnit.

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