The world can be a messed-up place, particularly as we humans fail to relate rightly to our fellow humans and to the Earth family. Anyone who realizes this basic truth has a duty to address it after some fashion, but an isolated individual can only accomplish so much. We have to come together in community to effect change. These are some of my very humble efforts in that direction.
Since 2019 I’ve been on the steering committee for the Greater New Orleans Interfaith Climate Coalition. It’s truly been a blessing to work for climate justice with people from a diverse array of faith traditions, under the leadership of Pastor Gregory Manning.
I’ve also been working with Citizens’ Climate Lobby, where I convene an action team for practitioners of Earth-based spirituality.
In 2007 I joined with thousands of New Orleanians in a March for Survival, after a spate of murders including Dinerral Shavers and my friend Helen Hill. The speech I delivered in front of New Orleans City Hall, in which I expressed community outrage at official incompetence, was given broad media coverage and was even featured in HBO’s Treme. This was not a happy moment, but it was a transformative one for me personally.
I’m a founding member of the Green Party of Louisiana. My interest in so-called “third party” campaigns dates to 1988, when I supported Lenora Fulani’s candidacy for president. In the ’80s I was also active with the Bloomington Rainforest Action Group, a chapter of the Rainforest Action Network.
I am a co-founder and past president of Friends of Lafitte Greenway, a group devoted to revitalizing a core section of New Orleans through the creation of a greenway. After many years of advocacy, the initial phase of construction is now complete. In 2013 I won the Louisiana Cox Conserves Hero award for this work, and in 2014 the Urban Conservancy named me an Urban Hero.
I’ve also served on the board of the Urban Conservancy and the Mid-City Neighborhood Organization, and I’ve been a panelist and an organizer for Rising Tide, the annual conference on the future of New Orleans.
Pranks and Stunts
One problem with activists is we tend to get too serious for our own good. The issues that confront are so dire that we risk losing our sense of humor, yet if we lose that we lose much of what is best about being human.
So I have often resorted to pranks and stunts to get a point across.
See, for example, my performance piece in front of the Bloomington City Council.
Many further video shenanigans may be observed in the ROX television series, most notably our programs questioning marijuana prohibition and other stupid laws, as well as our satirical pro-life protests.
Such strategies are not always successful. Once, in my youthful naïveté I thought that streaking might be an effective means toward social change. I was proven wrong, however, my arrest did lead directly and indirectly to many wonderful things.
Of course it’s all interconnected. My work as a faculty developer is also driven by a strong sense of mission. My spiritual practice both informs and supports these efforts. And it’s fodder for creativity as well.