Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Tucson Representing at NYC People's Climate March Along With a Polar Bear

Posted By on Wed, Sep 24, 2014 at 9:00 AM

Taking center stage at the NYC People's Climate March was Tucson-based Center for Biological Diversity. Executive Director Kieran Suckling accompanied a charming polar bear (Center for Biological Diversity's Peter Galvin dressed for the occasion), who seemed to enchant everyone before and after his arrest. Suckling was also arrested during the Flood Wall Street event on Monday, Sept. 21.

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From Suckling's Twitter:

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The Guardian was smitten by Frost Paw. The paper did an entire spread on the climate crusader that you can read here. (Suckling was identified as the "man itching his goatee")

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Also in NYC for the People's Climate March was local activist Stephanie Smith, who took some time to talk with the Range late last night as she was processing the Flood Wall Street event, which attracted more than 400,000 people.

Smith did a successful two-week Indiegogo campaign to help raise more than $600 to pay for her travel expenses to NYC to attend the march. Read a Q&A interview with her after the jump.

What inspired you to plan this crowdfunder and participate in the People's Climate March and Flood Wall Street?

Gloria Anzaldúa's book "Borderlands/La Frontera," and the incredible professorship of Sandy Soto from the University of Arizona Gender Women's Studies department were the seed of inspiration that lead to my participation. As I worked through Anzaldúa's controversial text the burden of American death culture transformed into as Anzaldúa might say say opportunity for coalition and rebellion.

I've been living in Tucson, Arizona for six years and have come to understand transnational borders including the US Mexico border, reservations, and prison walls as disrupting natural earth cycles that create and sustain life. The Military Industrial Complex, police and border patrol are what it takes to maintain these kinds of Nation-State relationships. The Military Industrial Complex and mass scale weapons manufacturing too destroys our beautiful earth in the production process and in deployment.

In short - all things migrate: The earth migrates around the sun, water migrates, animals migrate, and people migrate. Corporate militarized borders disrupt those cycles. I'm interested in disrupting those disruptions by way of love, community connection, fundraising, and direction. I will participate, promote and support that work.

Where did you find yourself when you arrive?

When I arrived I went directly to King Spa, a Korean-style bathhouse spa in Palisade, New Jersey. It cost $34 a night to stay there soak, scrub, and sweat and communally sleep on bamboo heated floors. I do this in every big city I travel to and this choice reflects the values that are implicit to my environmental position. America does not seem to understand the real good life which is free time and community. I would rather sleep in community than a stale hostel or hotel room that is double even four times the cost of the Korean-style bath house.

Then I was given the support and generous hospitality of a friend I worked with as the Environmental Action Committee treasurer with during undergrad at SUNY Plattsburgh, and went back to the bathhouse to refresh and to do homework for the graduate program I'm in directly following the #PeoplesClimateMarch.

Which organizations were you hoping to connect with?

I was not hoping to connect with organizations. My sense of autonomy is important allowing me to speak fully from my heart to tell the best truth I know and am capable of at the time. Still, I was following Favianna Rodriguez, Center for Story Based Strategy, Culture Strike, The Day Labor's Network, 350 and First Nations Communities. B. Lowe from the National Day Laborers Network said in a "Stop the Presses!" bi-monthly webinar with the Center for Story Based Strategy that " ... there is a big difference from organizing online and organizing in the shop room floor." I worked my way through college doing day labor work at Labor Ready. I had to wait in line at dawn each morning hoping for job that paid $7 an hour to work in dirty factories and then wait in line at the end of the day to get paid. I saw the #PeopleClimateMarch and #FloodWallStreet as extensions of the intentionality taken up in these organizations' work.

What do you feel like you accomplished?

I accomplished a crowdfunder to raise funds travel to NYC for #PeoplesClimateMarch and #FloodWallStreet before the march was even officially announced. Like I said, I have been following these organizations since the fall of 2013. I also had been making very pointed tweets via my twitter @SectorSS69 all year encouraging and begging for a big coalition and rebellion. The oppression of the death culture had taken hold of my heart and psyche. I needed this as a much as anyone else to come out from under that and reclaim the breath of life. I did accomplish what I promised in my crowdfunder. I sent video and pictures of the events back to my own little personal community. I also accomplished moving through the intersections of Environmental Justice, Labor, Migrants Rights and Indigenous Communities literally in the street as I sent photos and video back to Tucson. I did get to meet Joseph Phelan (from Center for Story Based Strategy) on the subway in a totally autonomous way! and I orbited with Favianna at the People's Climate Art Space.

As for the garbage that was created by the Art that the media is being critical of ... it's not about the garbage individually and collectively created. That is nothing compared to the environmental devastation created by corporatized government by way of oil, gas, uranium and war. We have in front of us the opportunity to state our unique and personal identities positions and still band together in collective power and refuse to be divided. That's how the powers that be divide and conquer. They play with our egos and get us to fire in at each other instead of out at them.

What do you plan to do when you return to Tucson?

When I get back to Tucson I intend to care for my grandmother, do a Spanish immersion with a women's organization - so I can participate more fully in Border action work, and walk my talk from what I now call an Anzaldúian Environmental Politic. One that claims its multiple identities, is self aware, and usurps its individual and collective power.

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