The Unsuitablog

Exposing Ethical Hypocrites Everywhere!

Hands Across The Sand: A New Low In Symbolic Protest

Posted by keith on June 24th, 2010

“I dreamed early on in the BP crime-event that The Gulf Gusher could NOT be stopped. I woke up shaking, sweating, my heart pounding. I knew this was information more than merely a dream…I think we have a hole in our heads when we talk about effective action, and we’ve got to think more seriously about what effective action is to stop the destruction of the only planet we have and need…”
(Roxanne Amico)

Yesterday, myself and probably thousands of other bloggers and activists received a press release from New York PIRG, explaining what they would be doing about the horrors of the Gulf, the ravenous appetite of the industrial world for oil, and the continued scorched-Earth policy that all governments pursue in the search for wealth and continued economic growth.

MEDIA ADVISORY – For immediate release

Lauren Schuster, NYPIRG Staff Attorney
347.729.4729, LSchuster@nypirg.org

HUNDREDS TO DEMAND AN END TO OFFSHORE OIL DRILLING AND AN IMMEDIATE TRANSITION TO CLEAN RENEWABLE ENERGY WILL HOLD “HANDS ACROSS THE SAND” AT BRIGHTON BEACH

On Saturday, June 26th, hundreds of students, volunteers and members of NYPIRG’s 1Sky New York Campaign will gather on the shore at Brighton Beach to demand an end to offshore drilling and an immediate transition to clean, renewable energy sources. The activists, standing in silence, will clasp hands along the shoreline, in a stunning visual display of solidarity. The Brighton Beach Hands Across the Sand event is part of a national campaign with hundreds of events taking place in almost every state in the country. For more information about the nation event, please visit: http://www.handsacrossthesand.com.

Who: Hundreds of volunteers and activists from the NYPIRG/1Sky NY Campaign
What: Hands Across the Sand at Brighton Beach
When: Saturday, June 26th at 12pm
Where: Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, NY
Visuals: Hundreds of volunteers clasping hands along the shore
Photos: Photos of the event will be made available for those who are unable to attend

This is part of a national (i.e. USA) event, currently being held in 26 states, which no doubt will be attended by hundreds of thousands of people who for some reason feel that forming chains of people across beaches will do the job, will make things all better again.

> What is the point of this, Lauren?

Keith

Hi,

Thanks for your question. The event is taking place in almost every state
in the country at the exact same time and we are standing together to show
solidarity with the Gulf Coast. We will send the message that we want an
end to offshore oil drilling and we want clean renewable, energy now. I
think that sums it up. If you have any other questions or would like more
information, please feel free to call or email. Thanks!

Warmest Wishes,

Lauren Schuster, Esq.
Staff Attorney
NYPIRG | The New York Public Interest Research Group
9 Murray Street | 3rd Floor | New York, N.Y. 10007
LSchuster@nypirg.org
p. 212.349.6460 | f. 212.349.1366

http://www.nypirg.org/enviro/1sky/

Thanks for replying, Lauren. I still don’t understand how this will actually change anything – who will get the “message” and what do you honestly except them to do with it?

Keith

Hi Keith,

That’s a fair question. So, we hope to and already have started attracting a fair amount of media attention, which is the first step. We are also collecting petition signatures at the event which demand comprehensive climate and clean energy solutions. We will deliver these petition signatures along with pictures of the event and a letter urging out leaders at every level of government to support climate and clean energy legislation next week. Hopefully, the force of hundreds of people from hundreds of organizations across the country doing this at the same time will demonstrate that we’re serious. Finally, bringing people together at an events like this makes everyone feel energized and engaged in the issue. We are going to need a lot of passionate people who are ready to help us move mountains to get climate and energy done. At the end of the day, it’s really about about bringing people together.

With that said, you should come out, see what it’s all about and then you can be involved with the follow up so you can see how a little hand holding can have a big difference.

Warmest Wishes,

Lauren Schuster, Esq.

I think the key word here is “hopefully” – which suggests that even the organisers give little chance of it actually achieving anything. Do you have any examples where such actions have created the kind of change you are asking for? I personally, cannot think of one. All successful actions I am aware of have involved some element of direct action, including sabotage and/or mass disobedience.

Best

Keith


(Cartoon courtesy of Code Green by Stephanie McMillan)

The dialogue continues below – please join in…

UPDATE: Just received this comment from Chandra (see below) who seems to have uncovered some interesting information about the founder of Hands Across The Sand, Dave Rauschkolb. I don’t have the resources to verify everything here, but if it is all true then the movement would seem to be walking on quicksand:

As for the mastermind behind this protest, Dave R., he’s recently announced to our local community that he has ordered the new Nissan Leaf to show his commitment to renewable energy. I once had a conversation with Dave about Peak Oil, of which he had never heard. That’s innocent enough, we were all there once. Dave has personally been invited to numerous sustainable forums over the last few years, of which I don’t recall him ever attending. He’s a very busy man. Dave is a three restaurant owner surf dude, who jet sets all over the world and has been known to indulge in poker excursions to Las Vegas. Dave lives in one of the most affluent developments in our county. I seriously doubt that Dave has evaluated any of his menus for sustainably acquired seafood, yet Dave claims to love the Gulf and care deeply for it’s inhabitants. Dave cut down a vital stand of old sand oaks from the dunes that were impeding the beach views from his latest restaurant endeavor. Dave is now regarded as a local hero and face of environmental stewardship and activism. Dave is planning yet another Hands Across the Sand event for next year. Be sure to get your T-shirt!

9 Responses to “Hands Across The Sand: A New Low In Symbolic Protest”

  1. LS Says:

    My question to Lauren would be: Lauren, are you giving up (or even cutting back) your car, plastics, chemicals, heating, cooling, and industrial food to support this cause and set an example? I expect that the answer would be no.

    Which really puts the whole “protest” in perspective.

    No change without sacrifice. Otherwise it’s just holding hands and singing um. Well, just holding hands really (which can be fun of course …).

  2. keith Says:

    Yes, I would add that holding hands is a lovely thing – one of the most awesome connections you can make with people – but we shouldn’t need a special reason to do it; much less use it as a *protest* >:(

  3. Lauren Schuster Says:

    Hi Keith,

    Sorry for the delay in getting back to you – to say that I’ve been swamped for the last two days would be an understatement of monumental proportions. At any rate, I would hate for you to misconstrue my “hopeful” tone as pessimism. On the contrary, I am confident that the Hands Across the Sand event and other events like it are a necessary and important part of a multifaceted grassroots campaign. And, while I understand your frustration with the process (I think anyone who’s been working to pass comprehensive climate and clean energy policy is), it’s just that, a process. There is an important role for each type of advocacy, including direct non-violent action.

    I think my use of the word hopeful speaks more to our opposition and the stranglehold they have had on the American political system for decades. We are working against entrenched special interests and this will continue to be an uphill battle. That’s why we need to get out into the community and educate and engage – to let people know that this fight is going on and to make sure that they become a part of it. There are no absolutes or givens and with that said, I am confident that if we continue to work together, we will succeed.

    LS- Thanks for your interesting comments – I don’t really see the connection between holding hands and not taking personal responsibility for my choices; however, I will respond to your question anyway. I try to take as much personal responsibility as I can – I don’t own a car and rarely drive, I don’t eat meat and eat mostly raw, natural foods, I recycle, have a wonderful garden, use CFLs and have a solar charger for some of my devices. I do my best to make green choices whenever possible and also have devoted my life and career to fighting for clean energy solutions for New York State and the country. I think that’s it – but if you’d like to know more about my personal commitment, please feel free to ask. Thanks!

    Again, you should consider coming out to the event. You’ll be able to see and feel firsthand the significance of bringing people together like this. Also, we’ll be able to discuss next steps and develop and action plan that will take us from here to victory. Thanks!

    Lauren

  4. Frank Profaci Says:

    wow, do you kick puppies too? Lets see- thousands of people uniting across the country demanding action from our government for renewable, clean energy and standing in solidarity with our fellow Americans in the Gulf region to say you are not alone in this horrible crisis. I’m still trying to figure out how this is a “symbiotic low.” I would say it was empowering and if I was an elected official I would say “crap, 1,000 of people are at this thing, the media is all over it. If I want to keep my job I better come out to support them.”

  5. keith Says:

    No, Frank, I don’t kick puppies – but if you consider one guy against thousands of people “powerfully” holding hands the equivalent of this then I am rather flattered.

    If I was an elected official then – well, it’s not going to happen because I don’t have backing of corporations and the mass media, which purposefully ignore the real needs of humanity in favour of wealth for a few; and whose support for politicians is predicated on their ignoring of the needs of humanity.

    But if holding hands makes you feel empowered then do it – just don’t expect it to change anything.

    —–

    Lauren, I appreciate you responding – I have altered the article to acknowledge this; it’s quite unusual for someone to respond so freely, I am so used to PR reps who ignore anything uncomfortable.

    “we need to get out into the community and educate and engage” yes I completely agree, I strive to do this too – but as a way of engaging politicians and other corporate cronies it’s a non-starter, for the reasons I give Frank above. Anyhow, why do you *want* to engage politicians? Surely if this is about community then there are no “leaders” and it really makes me squirm when I see this word used by people who surely have realised by now that (a) to lead in any sense you have to earn respect and your position on merit alone and (b) that anyone deserves the monicker “leader” when it should only *ever* be a ephemeral position. In communities there are Elders and Wise people, there are people who take charge when leadership is required…but to slavishly refer to the corrupt, moneyed, corporate-led elite as “leaders” betrays a level of naivite that you can surely rise above.

    I still feel you need to ask yourself the question I set above: “Do you have any examples where such actions have created the kind of change you are asking for?”

    Thank you.

    Keith

  6. Lauren Schuster Says:

    Hi Keith,

    Thanks for posting my response. In case you were wondering, the Hands Across the Sand event in Brighton Beach was incredible! We had a great turnout, as did just about every event in the country and got hits in just about every major media outlet in the country. Beyond that, it was an incredibly inspiring event. As we marched along the shore with our hands clasped chanting for clean energy, dozens of beach goers left the comfort of their blankets to join us. I have been organizing for a long time and I will tell you that this event gave me chills; in fact, thinking back to it now, I still get chills.

    We are now in the process of planning actions for July and August and the people at the Hands event undoubtedly will get involved. That’s nearly 100 activists, more than half of whom were not involved before Saturday.

    To respond to your question: many social movements have grown out of direct, non-violent action. Think Ghandi, MLK Jr., the student rights movement in the US, and women’s suffrage, just to name a few. Now, I am not comparing the Hands Across the Sands event to the Million Man March, but I think these are fair comparisons and you understand where I’m going.

    And, I completely understand your frustration, and to a certain extent, share it. Our political system is broken – politicians are more responsive to moneyed corporate interests than they are to their constituents. To be sure, what we are witnessing right now is a failure of leadership on the most basic level. That’s why events like this are so incredibly powerful.

    At this critical moment in the climate and clean energy debate, the grassroots must mobilize; millions of voices must be heard in unison demanding an end to the status quo. The Hands Across the Sand event is one way to do that. As I said in my previous post, this is but one effective tool for organizing on the grassroots level. Taken along with other forms of advocacy, I am truly confident that we will prevail.

    Thanks again,

    Lauren

  7. LS Says:

    Lauren, that’s great to hear that you don’t own a car etc, etc. Well done. You personally are making a tiny difference, just like me.

    But it won’t make enough difference to matter and no, our good example won’t make the majority see the light and do the same, even if we hold hands on the beach. Which is the point of this discussion.

    You said:

    “the Hands Across the Sand event in Brighton Beach was incredible! We had a great turnout, as did just about every event in the country and got hits in just about every major media outlet in the country.”

    Right. And where is the wave of change? Call me cynical, but time will tell. This kind of protest makes people like you feel great for a few hours, or days and makes a splash for the media, but in the end it won’t actually stop BP spoiling the environment, or make any real number of people change their consumptive behaviour. Which is the ONLY thing that will make any difference.

    “I am truly confident that we will prevail.”

    I, on the other hand am truly confident that you won’t prevail. A point of view that history supports.

    So, the best thing that anyone can do is (as Keith so often points out) prepare yourself. Re-localise, learn skills, get out of debt, reduce your consumption (that means not buying stuff, rather than “do my best to make green choices whenever possible”. Not buying stuff is the real sacrifice that does actually mean something).

    And don’t expect anyone to support you, or congratulate you. In fact, be prepared to be dismissed, ostracised, and even hated by your friends and family.

    Taking a stand and rejecting consumerism is hard almost to the point of impossibility (just try it and see. Our society will punish you badly for trying). So, forgive me for being cynical about “holding hands on the sand”, but I find this kind of wide eyed naivety nauseating at best.

  8. Chandra Says:

    I can’t express how amused I was to find this post. I found your site through Peak Moment via Energy Bulletin and was just clicking along…from post to post, digging the exposure of ethical hypocrites. It’s amusing for a multitude of reasons.

    One of those amusements is that I find this poetic; you, on another continent, responding to this event and pointing out the hypocritical nature of a hand holding in a time that calls for quantifiable action of change and me finding your blog and having an intimate connection with this event, yet harboring the same sentiments – secretly. I say secretly though probably not for long, as I’m certain Google search will alert the Hands Across the Sand organizers to the local infidel. I’ll explain.

    If you swing the camera a bit to the right in the Hands Across the Sand image, you would see the silhouette of me and a few cohorts. The only reason I made it to the beach that day was because I was selling my sprouts at the local farmers market, which was a few scant meters away from the protest, and spending a few more minutes with my fellow market friends seemed a good enough reason to engage. Certainly, if my participation entailed driving my car, it would not have happened. As it was, that day and previous days leading up to the protest, buying and selling black T-shirts and bumper stickers for the event were all the buzz at the market, of which I refused to purchase on matter of principal. Not that I wanted or needed a reminder of Big Oil’s omnipresence in my life or a black T-shirt.

    As for the mastermind behind this protest, Dave R., he’s recently announced to our local community that he has ordered the new Nissan Leaf to show his commitment to renewable energy. I once had a conversation with Dave about Peak Oil, of which he had never heard. That’s innocent enough, we were all there once. Dave has personally been invited to numerous sustainable forums over the last few years, of which I don’t recall him ever attending. He’s a very busy man. Dave is a three restaurant owner surf dude, who jet sets all over the world and has been known to indulge in poker excursions to Las Vegas. Dave lives in one of the most affluent developments in our county. I seriously doubt that Dave has evaluated any of his menus for sustainably acquired seafood, yet Dave claims to love the Gulf and care deeply for it’s inhabitants. Dave cut down a vital stand of old sand oaks from the dunes that were impeding the beach views from his latest restaurant endeavor. Dave is now regarded as a local hero and face of environmental stewardship and activism. Dave is planning yet another Hands Across the Sand event for next year. Be sure to get your T-shirt!

    I have to say, I found your interview on Peak Moment and this site to be refreshing and also resonating with where I am in regards to these shenanigan charades. In the wake of the Gulf of Mexico spew, many of us along the coast have needed and found some sense of hope by engaging with our communities and forming task forces to help work through this tragedy, if even just emotionally. I have recently found myself involved in an organization that keeps fighting the resistance fight and doing the dance of working to communicate and partner with the “authorities” (BP and local government) in the spirit of cooperation. It’s a non-starter to say the least.

    I could go on, though I’m wrapped up in the midst of AMOS and my mind is drifting to a better place…with birds.

    Disengagement is vital. Thanks for spreading the word.

  9. keith Says:

    Thank you so much for your comment, Chandra – I am posting the paragraph about Dave Rauschkolb in the main article, obviously quoting just in case his lawyers are watching, and I am very grateful that you have taken the time to say what you did. The more formerly silent rebels that speak out against the mainstream enviro-hypocrisy, the fewer people will be fooled into thinking this is going to change things.

    Many thanks, Keith.

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