We are in the midst of climate chaos. 25 tornadoes yesterday, the continued massive flooding along the Missouri River, two powerful cyclones in Mozambique, record ice loss, and increasing carbon dioxide and methane levels in the air.
The broken levee has resulted in the Mississippi River flowing through Davenport, Iowa. As much as I have studied and written about environmental collapse, it really hits you when you experience these things yourself. Last Saturday I was on a Burlington Trailways bus. When we arrived in Davenport, the bus station was at the edge of the floodwaters. It was an incredible to see streets covered with water, and that was before the levee broke. The bus station is surely flooded now. Although I was traveling to Des Moines (West of Davenport), when the bus left the station it actually crossed the Mississippi going Eastward. On the Illinois side of the Mississippi we traveled South to reach a highway that was not flooded. The Mississippi was just a few feet below the road we were traveling on. When we reached the next bridge, we went back over the river going Westward and on to Des Moines.
Many people feel overwhelmed and hopeless, and think there isn’t anything they can do. It is generally accepted that change usually happens when social justice efforts begin to impact the profits of the targeted companies. One of the more effective things you can do is, if your bank funds fossil fuel projects, tell your bank why you are closing your account, referred to as divestment.
I have been involved with several divestment actions. The Quaker meeting I attended in Indianapolis, North Meadow Circle of Friends, closed its Chase account.
In November, 2015, three of us delivered the following petition to the local Morgan Stanley offices.
Ted, who I work with in the Keystone Pledge of Resistance, came down from Muncie where he teaches at Ball State. Gilbert, who attends North Meadow Friends and is an activist, joined Ted and I at the Chase Tower downtown this afternoon at 3 pm. Joseph Kelley, the manager, came out to talk with us. He said he had received an email to let him know we might be visiting today. He listened very politely, and said he would get the message to the appropriate people.
A few days after the petition deliveries (at multiple cities) the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) announced that Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo have taken steps to stop financing fossil fuel development. I called the Indianapolis Morgan Stanley offices and left a message for Joseph Kelley, the branch manager who met with us, thanking him for meeting with us, and Morgan Stanley for changing their policy.
Divestment is one of the tools we used during efforts to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline (#NoDAPL). In October, 2017, those of us in Indianapolis working to stop the DAPL decided to have a gathering related to defunding the pipeline. After gathering at the Eitoljorg Museum, where prayers were given, led by Native Americans, we marched first to the PNC Center, then the Chase bank. At each bank, the group stood in silence while those with accounts went inside to close their accounts. $110,000 was withdrawn that day.
That day that we went to the banks, I was not prepared to close my Chase account, because I hadn’t let my payroll department know of the change in where my direct deposit should go. And I hadn’t set up the bill payments in the new bank account. Once I had done that, I did close my Chase account. That story was published in the Quaker Earthcare Witness (QEW) newsletter, Befriending Creation. https://www.quakerearthcare.org/article/one-dollar-time-defunding-dapl
Another divestment action occurred at the US Bank headquarters in Minneapolis in February, 2018, the weekend the Super Bowl as being held there. You can read more about there here: https://jeffkisling.com/2018/02/05/super-bowl-and-justice/
Thanks to Jimmy Tidwell, who was on the First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March, and pictured below, for this list of hashtags.
#Divest From Banks That Fund Pipelines