I want to #breakfree

Sophia Cheng / 3 min read / Newbie Activist Life
18 May 2016
Reflections on #keepitintheground march in LA

I’m a fledging activist but I’ve still a way to go, I stumble and falter, succumb to a burger (grass fed) every now and then and eat my hypocritical words. But I do want to #breakfree and not just because Freddie said so.

#Breakfree is a series of 350.org global activities during May to show that the world needs to #breakfree from fossil fuels, if we are to curb our rapidly changing climate we need to #keepitintheground. Read more on the science here.

I’m also motivated by what it takes to build a global movement, how do you get an individual to move from clicktivist to full-blown activist who votes with their feet, their pockets and their behaviour? I’m curious on a professional level, with If Not Us Then Who? but also on a very human level. I’m also motivated to do more than just work for a cause but embed important threads into my personal life as well. Some of those choices include, cutting down on meat consumption (just can’t quite go fully vegetarian. or dairy free yet.), challenging myself to use less plastic and disposable items, invest in the Fairphone 2, opt for trains over flights where sensible etc.

So when #breakfree came onto my horizon, I knew I wanted to get involved. I’m moving around currently as a digital nomad and as luck would have it, the LA event was timed perfectly(ish). A fortuitous trip to the Lush branch in Santa Monica (to top up on my naked packaging smellies), I picked up the signage I needed to take part. I headed to Downtown LA on my own and was adopted by Nancy and Sharon (see their photo below), longstanding activists who helped put LA activism into context. “It’s hard to get people to turn up in LA, it’s a shame but it would need a Mark Ruffalo to pull the crowds out.” (Wait, this tweet suggests he was there and we just didn’t notice!) But we made do just fine with #bigbernie, Bill McKibben & a host of community leaders sharing their stories of neighbourhood oil drills and gas leaks. Being from the UK the idea of oil exploration going on near where you grow up was hugely unsettling. Inspiring teenagers shared their tales of activism and what we lacked in numbers we made up for in spirit. In the bright California sunlight on the footsteps of LA City Hall we made our voices heard as we marched downtown. Bill shared a powerful reminder that we were just 1 action in a number of actions taking place across the world that day.

I slipped off towards the end, unlike seasoned activist Sharon, I didn’t bring any food with me. My protest spirit declines when my blood sugar level dips. I’m not sure what impact my actions had but I felt empowered by taking part, especially something so global and ambitious in scope. And met some fantastic people.

Someone said to me before the march, “isn’t it inconvenient for you to get there? isn’t it getting in the way of your travel plans at the weekend?” I wasn’t quick enough to respond eloquently at the time but I chewed it over. Yes it is inconvenient. But then climate change is inconvenient, isn’t it? Didn’t Al Gore say so? It’s the thorn in our botex-sculpted-sides, the stain on our immaculate hard wood dining table that just won’t go, it’s the nagging conscious, the glitch in the matrix. Isn’t choosing convenience over inconvenience time and time again how we got in this mess in the first place?

Avatar photo Sophia Cheng With a decade of communications experience across the for profit and nonprofit sectors, agency and in-house, Sophia has made a habit of making ‘the hard stuff’ more accessible. Since 2018, she has reorientated her life around the climate crisis. She has forged her decade of communications experience into offering workshops, mentoring, blogging, and more, on the biggest issues of our time. View all posts
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