Jane Fonda’s “Fire Drill Fridays” continue to spark action on climate issues

In late 2019, just months before COVID-19 shut down the world, Jane Fonda temporarily relocated to Washington, DC to organize a series of weekly civil disobedience protests to urge Congress to pass meaningful climate legislation.

After she and a group of protesters blocked First Street near the intersection of East Capitol Street, she was quickly arrested. And again next week and the week after. Each time, Fonda returned with a larger group of citizen activists and celebrities ranging from Ted Danson to Martin Sheen to Susan Sarandon.

She called the initiative: Fire Drill Fridays.

“Last Friday there were over 2,000 people and over 300 were arrested,” Fonda said. Oceane. “We never intended to have very large crowds (although they did get larger than expected). Our aim was to raise awareness of the urgency of the climate crisis, which we achieved through our willingness to engage in nonviolent civil disobedience and risk arrest.

Fonda, who organized Fire Drill Fridays in partnership with Greenpeace, says she was inspired to take action by young activists like Greta Thunberg, as well as author Naomi Klein”On Fire: The Hot Case for a Green New Deal.” In an interview with USA TODAYshe said that despite lasting changes in her personal life, it was not enough to stave off a sense of helplessness.

“I was slipping into despair before going to DC. I spent a year depressed by climate change and felt like I wasn’t doing enough,” she said. “Once I went to DC and started this action, my despondency disappeared.”

Jane Fonda speaks onstage at Greenpeace USA Brings California Fire Drill Fridays to San Pedro City Hall on March 06, 2020 in Wilmington, California.

Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images

That Fonda would risk being arrested, again and again, for drawing attention to something she believes in is no surprise. Besides her Oscar-winning film career, the 83-year-old has a long history as an activist – protesting both the wars in Iraq and Vietnam, supporting Native American land rights and supporting civil rights and feminist causes. . With the climate crisis, however, she has clung to something that she knows will have a massive impact on generations to come.

“I am also very aware that I am alive in the last generation that can determine whether there is a future for human beings or not,” she told the Boston WBUR. “We are. The decisions we make will determine millions of lives and a livable future.

The shift from physical to virtual contact creates momentum

When the pandemic hit and Fonda could no longer protest in person (at this point, having been arrested a total of five times), she went the way of the rest of the world and took her mission online. To build momentum, she began hosting weekly live interviews on various environmental topics (hydraulic fracturing, shutting down fossil fuel distributions, ocean protection, etc.) with notables like climate scientist Michael Mann, musical artist Demi Levato and politicians from Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). Monthly movie nights with live Q&A discussions were also featured, with documentary films such as “Youth against government” and “Chasing Cora“in honor.

In the months that followed, she wrote a book about her journey, “What can I do ? : My path from climate desperation to actionand also used his growing platform to help encourage people to vote in the 2020 presidential election.

“Since March 2020, our virtual Fire Drill Fridays have attracted 9 million viewers across all platforms,” ​​she added to Oceana. “Thousands of people volunteered before the election and made more than 4 million calls and texts to climate voters who had not participated in the previous elections. Again, most had never volunteered before.

As she approaches two years of her call to action on climate change, Fonda has no plans to end her initiative or move on to another cause. Venture to his Fire Drill Fridays site and you will see new campaigns against fossil fuel subsidies, as well as next movie nightfocused on the industrial food documentary “Kiss the Ground”.

For Fonda, there is no better time to stand up and fight for a better future than now.

“I think we’re lucky to be alive right now,” she said Interview Magazine. “We are the generation that can ensure that there will be a future for humanity. What a glorious responsibility. You must not shy away from it. »

Teresa H. Sadler