We’ve been really busy for the past few days helping our newest Synergist recruits set up Synergy Havana and Synergy Roads. Each center is facing its own challenges, but so far it’s nothing too serious. They’re both working with neighborhood associations, so they both have some volunteers and material resources to draw on. Ever since Hurricane Florence, these neighborhood associations have played a major role in organizing the neighborhoods in the absence of outside help. Both groups have enough resources to start a basic center and get a few projects going. But Havana is starting out with some serious supply shortages and Roads is short on volunteers, especially the volunteers they need to set up their new plumbing and food systems.
The simple solution would be to set up some type of simple exchange. Havana has a lot of people willing to work and Roads has a shortage of people and a surplus of supplies. But of course, life is not always simple. Miami still mostly functions based on the old economy — money, money, money. We’re all part of one team now, so we don’t want to turn this into an impersonal business transaction. But we’ve only been on the same team for a few days, so people are wary of donating a bunch of work or goods to virtual strangers.
Even with the ocean lapping at our feet — and our knees, and our waists — we have to deal with the same old money problems. In our case, though, it’s getting easier. The two neighborhoods as a whole aren’t on the same page, but our new Synergist recruits all support the idea of finding cooperative solutions and creating new green projects to help the people of Miami. So the solution here shouldn’t be too difficult. I’ve been involved in some back and forth discussions to set up a basic sweat equity system. People who work for a neighboring Synergy Center earn volunteer hours that can be traded in for resources like food, tools, supplies, and so on. It’s an inexact science, and we’re basically just helping each other out because we all share similar goals of rebuilding Miami in a green way. But a sweat equity system like this helps people who still think of things in terms of exchanging labor for goods and vice versa.
Life at Synergy Central has been very busy. But now that these other two centers are starting to gather their own momentum, I’ve had time to take a good look at what’s going on nationally. And it’s big.
Honestly, the whole world is in a big state of upheaval right now. Thailand, Bangladesh, Japan, and a few other places have been hit by superstorms again. Coastal cities around the world are experiencing record flooding. Inland cities are experiencing a flood of refugees from the coasts and the rural areas devastated by droughts. It’s too much for me to take in at the end of a long, hard day of work. But looking at the national level is a bit more reasonable to me — something I understand, something I can process, something I can maybe even be a part of in my own small way.
The United States is still one of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases. If you count all the products we buy from China, really, we’re the biggest emitters by far. Everybody knows this. We’ve known this for decades. But now, people in this country are really starting to understand it. They know it in their bones now. They know that when we flood the air with greenhouse gases, Miami goes underwater, and New York City goes underwater, and the plains of the Midwest and valleys of the West are stricken with drought, and so many other bad things start to happen.
And they’re acting on it. Not just on some solemn day of action when we all march together to raise awareness. Millions of people are out on the streets of America every day now. I don’t even think there’s any one group — or five groups, or ten groups — organizing it. People just know to go out in the streets and see what they can do. The old Occupy groups have revived under several different names and styles, holding various types of general assemblies in public spaces to talk about resistance and resilience. In places that still rely heavily on dirty energy, they’re making serious plans to stop all fossil fuel use by working together to install their own solar and wind immediately. Some of the bigger Green Front direct action groups like Rising Tide are suddenly organizing all types of massive sit-ins, lockdowns, and blockades in an effort to stop every fossil fuel project left in this country. Green Guard and other green militias are surging in membership as people prepare for the possibility of the government or corporations trying to stop all of this citizen action.
It’s like nothing any of us have ever seen before. This is the most active I’ve seen people get in my entire life. Harold and Tenelach have been around for a lot longer than I have, and they say the same. It’s different here in Miami because of how many people left the city. Just surviving here in a green way is its own small victory. But it’s exciting to come home every night and see these images from all across the country — everyday people like me getting excited and working together to do what they can about the situation. I guess that our own big surge in Synergist membership is a part of that too.
It’s even changing the course of this year’s election. Before Florence and Michael, there was just the usual debate about whether or not the Democrats would succeed in retaking the House. You know what it’s like. You’ve seen all the attack ads and the endless promises, billions of dollars spent to convince us to vote for the same people we always vote for. It’s ridiculous. But now there’s a tremendous outpouring of support for any candidate who advocates climate action and a huge backlash against anyone who opposes it. Some of the two-party candidates who were already strong on climate are doing well, but anyone who was on the fence or a climate science denier is taking serious losses right now. The pollsters and pundits say that if the election were held today, the Green Party would claim about a fourth of the House, a seat or two in the Senate, and a couple of Governor seats. The Climate Party would also possibly gain a few seats in the House. State-level races are being affected too. It’s not exactly a revolution, but it would probably be enough to start pushing through some really strong climate legislation really quickly.
Some people are calling it the October Surprise. Since we have our elections in early November, there’s often be something big and controversial that comes up in October that changes the course of an election. October Surprise is often a negative term, but in this case, it’s turning out to be a good thing. We’ve had a few too many cases of climate disruption lately for people to be complacent anymore. We will not be silent. We will stand up and make the changes needed in the world today.
As positive as I try to be, I can honestly say that I find this huge wave of public support surprising. I wasn’t doing much about the problem before Florence, and I figured most people wouldn’t get active until their home went underwater too. But there they are, out in the streets, maybe a bit chaotic and confused, but doing their best to make it happen. This is one October Surprise that may change the course of history for the better. Here’s hoping.