I’m doing a charity ride, but I’m not asking for money…
So what’s the point?
I’m riding a bicycle from Melbourne to Canberra, a distance of 1000km, whilst carrying an inflatable elephant. I’m doing this to bring attention to the climate crisis (the elephant in the room), and to start conversations about this most pressing of issues. It’s the largest threat to our way of life, yet it is rarely discussed in the media, or in polite company, and I want to change this.
I’m asking you to pledge action rather than money, as I believe this is the most effective way to make the changes we need. Also, I want to promote the idea of collective citizen action rather than individual consumer action; structural change rather than simply a ‘greener’ form of the status quo. And I want people to see that strong action on climate is also a way to reconnect with one another, and to change society for the better.
I’m not asking for your money, I’m asking for your time. Let’s call it a ‘non-charity’ bike ride.
How do I support the ride?
There are two ways.
1. ‘Pledge’ one of the actions listed at the bottom of this post.
2. Come along for part or all of the ride, and ask your friends, family or colleagues to support you by ‘pledging’ one of the actions. Even if you just want to ride with us for a day, or a morning, that would be ace. The first part of the ride will be along the Main Yarra Trail, a lovely ride through Melbourne. For ride info, head over to our official Facebook event page (or get in touch via the contact page). Here’s the route.
How do I pledge an action?
Leave a comment at the bottom of this page stating 1) which rider you are pledging on behalf of, and 2) what action you intend to undertake.
Do the action
Leave a comment stating 1)which rider you took action on behalf of, and 2) which action you did. Also, feel free to add any thoughts about your experience. Was it easy, hard, fun, nerve-wracking? How did you feel afterwards?
We will tally the pledges and attempt to present them to our local members of parliament once we make it to Canberra. Also, we will take a small amount of sea water with us to symbolically tip out in front of parliament house. While parliament house may not be threatened by sea-level rise, we want to remind our politicians that this is the fate that millions face around the world.
The philosophical basis of ‘action’ over ‘money.’ (suggested actions are below)
I’ve always had a problem with charity rides. Let’s just say someone is riding to raise money for homelessness services. Good on them. It’s a cause they no doubt believe in. That money may have a tangible, positive effect on a number of people’s lives. But it begs the question: why are 100,000 people in Australia homeless in the first place? How many charity rides will you have to do in order to ultimately solve the problem? I can’t help but think that that well-intentioned money is doing little more than papering over the yawning cracks through which 100,000 people have fallen.
Wouldn’t it be more effective to address the causes of this disadvantage in the first place? Why is housing so expensive? Why are jobs so insecure? Why are services so stretched? Why do we have an economic system that is fundamentally exploitative, that allows widespread underpayment of workers, that allows multinational companies to avoid paying tax? If we really cared about helping the homeless, shouldn’t we be taking action on these fronts?
My aim here is not to disparage anyone who has raised money for, or donated to a charitable cause. Donations definitely have their place; certain things simply need to be funded. My point is that sometimes we give money without really thinking about it, as a way to ease our guilt, and in doing so we avoid dealing with the structural problems that underlie the issue.
So this is not a charity ride, not as such. I will not ask you to give any money. You probably need it to keep up with your rapidly rising bills, your rent, your home loan repayments, your student debt, because unless you already have a lot of capital, you too are being screwed. Asking you to donate to something that should be properly funded by government—using the taxes of those who can afford it—is only going to perpetuate that system.
I am asking for your help to kick to the table over, to change a system that has bought us to this crisis point, that has allowed powerful interests to corrupt our politics, and to pollute without consequence. I am riding to promote the idea of an emergency response to the climate crisis. I am riding so that I may enjoy a safe climate now and in future, and that people who live after me may do the same.
List of suggested actions
These actions focus on civic engagement and political pressure. Individual consumer actions have an important role to play, but will not, on their own, be enough to deal with the climate crisis. Using a Keep Cup, for example, will not do much good if the government is still approving new coal mines and holding back the transition to renewables. I believe the scale and speed of change can only be achieved with strong government leadership, and this will not happen without the electorate demanding it. By all means, continue using a Keep Cup, but my aim with this project is for us become more engaged with politics and our communities.
Think of this as a starting point rather than an exhaustive list. Be as creative as you like. Everyone has unique skills, experience and contacts—and I don’t have a monopoly on good ideas! If you think something should be on here, leave a comment.
Join the ride
Come all or part of the way from Fed Square to Parliament House and add to the traction of our message. The more wheels the better! Head over to this facebook event for further details. If you’re not on Facebook, shoot me a message via the contact page and I’ll send you the details.
Host a Climate For Change conversation
Climate for change is a Melbourne-based not for profit that helps people to talk about climate change in a constructive way with their friends, family, workmates etc. The conversations are facilitated by a trained volunteer and run for about 2.5 hours. As a host you’ll just need to invite 8-12 friends and/or family over for a light meal and the facilitator will take care of the rest. Nathan, one of the Clycle riders, is an experienced facilitator and will be able to help you to host your climate conversation. If you pledge this action, you can leave your details via the contact page and Nathan will get in touch with you. Alternatively, you can find out more information and sign-up to be connected with one of over 100 trained facilitators in Melbourne and Brisbane here.
Write a letter to your MP
Writing a letter to your MP can be as simple as stating how much climate change means to you. People who have worked in local MP offices say that letters are taken seriously and a local government rule of thumb states that every letter represents the opinion of at least 24 other voters in the constituent.
Even if you live in a constituent with an MP that has a strong, positive stance on climate issues, writing in can give them permission to continue raising these issues in Parliament. Labor shadow minister of climate change and energy, Mark Butler has requested that people write in to their MPs saying “we need your help”.
For a comprehensive guide to writing to your MP, check out Climate for Change’s letter writing tips page. This includes instructions on how to send letters, who to send them to and example letters written to MPs at the state and federal level. Sending a letter is great but for biggest impact here are some tips for following up that letter.
If this isn’t enough, you could try to...
Meet your MP
Walk into your MP’s office and say these words to the receptionist: I want to talk to (MP’s name) about the climate crisis. When can I meet him/her? I did this last year at my MP’s office. I got a half-hour meeting with him. Your MP may or may not be this forthcoming, but you won’t know until you ask. The point is, you’re taking up their time and resources, and bringing their attention to this issue, and indicating that it’s a priority for you. Some political parties have policies that say that if a certain number of people raise an issue with them, then it must be put on the party meeting agenda.
Go to a meeting of a local climate action group
Local climate action networks/groups (CAN) have power in numbers and can be grassroots source of collective action. If you’re wanting your actions to have more impact then find your local CAN and say that you’re interested in attending their next meeting.
The Victorian Climate Network website has a ‘Find A Group’ page where you can see the list of local and national climate action groups. The page was updated in June 2017 but most of the groups will still be active. There’s even a list of local radio programs/podcasts that cover climate and environmental issues!
Host an “Australia Remade” conversation
A24, otherwise known as Australia Remade, is not specifically a climate related group, but action on climate change is one of their pillars. They have released a ‘vision’ of Australian society, based on interviews with a broad range of Australians. It’s a blueprint for a better Australia, and it’s sure to spark discussion about our shared values and needs. They have resources for hosting a formal conversation about this with your friends or family.
Read one of the breakthrough reports
Breakthrough (National Centre for Climate Restoration) is an independent think-tank leading critical thought in the national climate debate. They have produced a series of reports and blue-prints for keeping our climate safe. Browse the free reports here.
Divest from your bank
If you currently bank with one of the big four banks, your savings are being used to finance fossil fuel projects. There are many alternative financial institutions in Australia that do not do this. Check out this guide from Market Forces for divesting from your bank. Disclaimer: this is not financial advice.
Divest your super
Most super funds in Australia invest in fossil fuel companies. Depending on your age/income, you may have many thousands of dollars in super that is going towards climate-destroying activities. Check out this guide from Market Forces for divesting your super. Disclaimer: this is not financial advice.
Keep up to date with climate news
It’s hard enough to keep up with Australian politics but relevant climate news involves extreme weather, new science results, business and community news too. Climate for Change have done the hard work and condensed each fortnight’s climate news into a email newsletter. If you sign up to one newsletter for your climate news, this should be it.
Climate for Change are a Melbourne-based not-for-profit organisation who are trying to create the social climate for effective action on climate change. They do this by facilitating discussions with people about why they care about climate change. Being informed is important but it’s how we feel that actually matters most. Find out more about Climate for Change and what they do here.
Carry an elephant everywhere you go for week
I did this for three weeks last year. People will inevitably ask: what’s with the elephant? You can answer: it is the elephant in the room, the climate crisis. This will start a conversation. It may brief and fruitless, or it may be longer and constructive. The point is, you’re talking to people about it. You’re reaching out to others and creating a social norm around caring about the climate crisis.
Engage in peaceful civil disobedience and protest
In recent years civil disobedience and protest has proved to be an effective tactic against fossil fuel interests and their enablers. A great example of this is the Stop Adani campaign, whose supporters disrupted the operations of anybody who associated themselves with the proposed Adani coal mine in the Galilee Basin of Queensland. They occupied MP’s offices, bank branches, engineering company sites, and photo-bombed pretty much every interview in the 2017 Queensland state election. They succeeded in making the big four banks rule out funding for the project, they raised the issue in the public consciousness, and made it politically difficult to support new coal projects. The new mine still hasn’t started construction, and it’s becoming less feasible every day.
Read a book
Reading a book may not sound very ‘actiony,’ but as the old saying goes, knowledge is power. A well-educated population is one of the basic elements of a functioning democracy. Here’s a suggested reading list. Again, by no means exhaustive—feel free to suggest other books.
Doughnut economics: seven ways to think like a 21st-century economist—Kate Raworth
Big Coal: Australia’s dirtiest habit—Pearse, Mcknight, Burton
Out of the wreckage: a new politics for an age of crisis—George Monbiot
Drawdown: the most comprehensive plan ever proposed to reverse global warming—Paul Hawken
No is not enough: defeating the new shock politics—Naomi Klein
Rules for revolutionaries: how big organising can change everything—Becky Bond, Zack Exley
Adani and the war over coal—Quentin Beresford
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