Strategy note – Dress to Impress at the Capitol Climate Action

30 01 2009

Organizers asking action participants to dress in their “Sunday Best” at the civil disobedience at the Capitol on March 2nd.

We’ve all heard that movements for ecological sanity and social justice are in a crucial political moment. We’re moving from margin to center, and ideas that were once considered on the radical fringe are seen as common sense and self-evident. We’re embracing strategies that employ a diversity of complimentary tactics. Our president proudly writes a narrative of American progress driven by civic engagement and social movement. Our battle is no longer of whether climate change is real, but whether or not we will meet this challenge with the speed and urgency our times require with solutions that are deep enough to solve the economic and climate crisis for everyone, not just for a few.

The nature of protest must evolve to seize this opportunity.

On March 2nd 2009, thousands of people from all walks of life and organizations from across the political spectrum will gather at the coal-fired power plant that powers congress for the Capitol Climate Action in DC. The Capitol Power Plant is a flashpoint and national symbol for a clear message of real solutions, healthy jobs and communities, and climate justice.

In this action, the medium is our message – we’re engaging in an act of civil disobedience. We’re highlighting the moral imperative to take action; our future can’t wait, and we’re willing to put ourselves on the line to ensure we have one. Nothing less than the survival of our species hangs in the balance, and we’re taking ourselves seriously enough to convey that with clarity.

That’s why in their initial public letter, Wendell Berry and Bill Mckibben said, “this will be, to the extent it depends on us, an entirely peaceful demonstration, carried out in a spirit of hope and not rancor. We will be there in our dress clothes, and ask the same of you.”

Dress how you like – it doesn’t need to be a business suit. Folks from different cultures have different ways of “dressing up” – feel free to do what feels right.


People often draw parallels between the emerging climate movement and the civil rights movement in the United States. While the climate movement still has a long way to go to earn that comparison, we are right to be inspired by it. Throughout history people have taken bold and confrontational action, often breaking laws to bear witness to an evil and reshape society. We understand that we are the inheritors of this spirit and its tone of seriousness and respectability. Throughout the labor movement and various currents for racial justice people have chosen to wear suits as part of their message they send through these bold actions.

We are asking participants to honor this legacy and use this as an opportunity for change-agents of all kinds to look at ourselves perhaps a bit differently than before. We realize it will be cold and we may all be bundled up anyway, but request that all participants respect the “tone of the zone” and come ready to engage in a positive solution-oriented bold national call to climate action. Dressing up is just one part of an overall message that will only enhance the powerful nature of this action.

And of course, please RSVP for the action and find ways to plug in, here.




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