Thursday June 6th President Obama came to Palo Alto, CA for a fundraiser. 350 Silicon Valley was determined to make sure he heard our opposition to the KXL pipeline.
Thursday was also my nephew’s high school graduation. Our family is very proud of him; school has not been easy for him because of ADHD, he had to work harder than most to achieve this goal. My sister with her famous stubborn determination kept him focused and busy. He has exceeded expectations by excelling at school, dance and sports. After receiving his diploma the crowd chanted for him to do a flip, which he did to cheers. I have complete faith he will continue to impress people with his innocent charm and determination as he heads to college and beyond.
Afterwards I drove with my wife and our 9 year-old to join 350 Silicon Valley. In the back of my mind were the 282 recent graduates, wide-eyed and hopeful, but what is their future? A crappy job market, overbearing student loan debts and severe weather are already stacked up against our new graduates. As a father, uncle and human being I feel the need to work towards improving these conditions. None are more urgent than Climate Change.
We were not sure of the exact location of the rally, but were sent updates from 350 as details became available. The fundraiser was being held at a residence in a neighborhood home to many of Silicon Valley’s elite and we had to park many blocks away. I doubted they would appreciate their quiet neighborhood turned into ground zero for a protest.
To my surprise many of the locals came out with their children to join the more seasoned activist. We had 320 sign in and estimated over 400 people split between two locations.
Soon after arriving my little one worked her way to the front, she wants to be heard. Yeah, stubbornness runs in the family. Her sign is based on a dinnertime discussion we had when President Obama’s policy on gay rights changed after a dinnertime discussion with his daughters.
The irony of seeing the Bomb Squad van was not lost on me since we were asking President Obama to give a thumbs down on the carbon bomb called Keystone XL pipeline.
I always enjoy reading the signs and slogans. Sometimes simple is best. Simply true…
Or clever word play…
But it really stings when you can use somebody’s own words against them. This is President Obama’s decision alone, hopefully he will heed his own advice. Like a good environmentalist, this sign was recycled from 350 Bay Area’s “Bike the Math” rally at Chevron Headquarters.
We weren’t the only people with a message for President Obama. This group was there to bring awareness to the current uprising in Turkey.
They had their own clever word play written in Turkish. This sign was based on a comment in which Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the protesters “looters.” Sadly my recorded description was lost when I received a phone call during the recording. The jest of it is this, the word going down is Turkish for ‘looter’, the words going across have meanings like bravery, honesty, etc….
The mood was relaxed and family-friendly. No yelling just peaceful chants.
We wanted to be heard. Most of the protestors had voted for and continue to support President Obama.
350 Silicon Valley outreach team leader Lisa Altieri working with the Raging Grannies. She has worked tirelessly to get this new local 350 chapter off the ground. I’ve been very impressed with the 350 organization. We have received much support from the national organization for our local actions. They even carved out space on their website so we could have our own pages for calendars, blogs and a home page.
After all this we were never seen by President Obama although he did pass by the smaller group located a couple blocks away. When the news came that he was already inside, a local resident there with her young child expressed her discouragement, something many of us are used to experiencing. I told her that the President would not be swayed by our little protest; the goal is to get media attention and raise awareness with the general public. We must first win the minds of the masses; pressure will come from the bottom up. She wasn’t consoled by this she wanted her concerns to be seen, heard and acknowledged.
As we left a resident poked his head out of his door to ask if President Obama had left yet. I assumed he wanted his neighborhood back, but after informing him that he had either left or would leave soon, his young daughters came out with their freshly made signs appearing a little disappointed. I imagined him having a dinnertime discussion with his family as we often do at our house and the Obamas at theirs. Many of our problems were created by my generation through comfortable complacency, gluttony or greed. The mess created will take generations to clean up. The world our children will grow up in will be foreign to us. I want my child to be informed and prepared and hopefully she’ll use her stubborn determination to overcome the difficulties we have left her generation.
This will be a summer of action for 350.org. Get involved. Get active. Mother Nature will be sharing her disgust. We must amplify her message and provide solutions.
350 Silicon Valley’s Upcoming Events and Meetings Join 350.org for Summer Heat