Special Report: Climate Change

Hamilton is Joining the Extinction Rebellion

When 3-4 percent of the population is actively engaged in nonviolently challenging the regime, it can bring about major change. For Hamilton, that means about 18,000 people. We have a long way to go.

By Nicole Smith
Published October 16, 2019

Why #BridgeOut actions worldwide in this fortnight of protest that began October 7? The government is not acting quickly enough to keep us from falling.

Why block bridges? The government won't listen until we disrupt business as usual.

We don't want to blame or shame motorists. Our message will be:

We're all part of the same broken system. We apologize for causing inconvenience. We wish there were another way. We've tried asking. We've tried shouting. We've tried marching. Humanity is still racing towards societal breakdown and catastrophe. If your commute is delayed, take the time to pause and reflect on what we all stand to lose. If you are outraged, you are in good company. So are we. We are all in this together.

Our big picture strategy as Extinction Rebellion Hamilton is to help the City of Hamilton by moving the 'Overton Window' of public perception of the action needed to deal with the climate emergency from unthinkable to radical to acceptable to sensible to popular to policy.

Let's face it: that is a lot of territory to cover. At this time, no city councillor will risk re-election on the drastic unpopular policies that are ahead.

We are challenging the City of Hamilton to be a climate leader, pushing up the political hierarchy, and to be foremost among the other cities in Ontario (via Large Cities Council, ICLEI, Mayors' Roundtable, and so on). Hamilton has gotten too much attention lately for being Canada's Hate Capital. Why not lead in a positive way instead?

We are laying the groundwork for a Citizens' Council in Hamilton to recommend policy and action to Council, which would make Hamilton one of the first in Canada to experiment with this key XR demand.

Hence we are challenging all 15 Hamilton councillors to hold at least two townhall meetings in every ward within the next six months. Of course representatives of Extinction Rebellion Hamilton will be there to share our vision and priorities. We will also lobby to be part of the design of these events for telling the truth about the climate emergency and whatever it will take to avoid the worst of it.

We are exposing the massive contribution of the steel mills and cement factories to the huge carbon footprint of Hamilton, equivalent to 20 percent more than all the rest of the city combined in all sectors: municipal, housing, transportation, industry, and services.

We want the steel industry to step up with concrete action to sequester carbon, for example via farmland carbon credits, and make their plan public on reducing emissions.

We do not plan for this to be a one-time nonviolent civil disobedience action. We're in for the long haul. We are well funded so far by private donations, and have plans to keep that up.

The media content will likely get more shrill in months ahead and it will become a more plastic situation in which to shift public opinion. We have no desire for riots or martial law to erupt.

We don't expect to win, if by winning you mean that we will steer Hamilton into a carbon negative economy by 2025 or that Canada will confess to false promises of a carbonfree future while promoting full speed ahead with growth. Most of us have decided we want to be on the right side of history, to be able to look our children and grandchildren in the face without shame, and to do our own therapy by being in action.

Bradbrook says grief is the fuel of the rebellion and rage is the catalyst for making the sacrifices that will be needed. People must be prepared to be arrested for what we believe. The stakes are terribly high.

Hamilton has been enjoying success in growing the local job market, attracting investment, including over $1 billion per year of building permits issued in recent years.

It would seem Hamilton council believes it can have its carbon and sequester it too, so to speak. It does not look like it will willingly do what it takes, namely redesign a degrowth pathway, and do it with empathy and justice for the marginalized and exploited, without extreme pressure from citizens.

This week's action's prime message therefore is "Wake Up, Act Now". and we intend to keep finding ways to make that impossible to avoid.

Our messages to media and in our visual art will be:

There will be arrestables at the action and we need more. We are being discreet about the exact arrestable actions we have prepared. We have done over eight hours of training specifically for this action, and have legal observers, police liaison, and media liaison in place.

Most people are not ready to face risk of arrest. We need them to provide support. We have impromptu programming in mind to engage people, educate them, and invite them to be part of the rebellion.

The research is clear: when 3 to 4 percent of the population is actively engaged in nonviolently challenging the regime, it can bring about major change. For Hamilton, that means about 18,000 people. We have a long way to go.

For more information or to join XR Hamilton, review our principles at xrhamont.org. Feel free if you agree with those principles to complete the online form.

Act Now.
Tell the Truth.
Become a Rebel for Life.

Nicole Smith is a member of Extinction Rebellion Outreach as well as of its Action and Media workgroups.

Nicole Smith is the Director at Hamilton West End Kumon, as well as the president of the independent North American Kumon franchisee association, IAKF.

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted October 16, 2019 at 19:02:03

Hence we are challenging all 15 Hamilton councillors to hold at least two townhall meetings in every ward within the next six months. Of course representatives of Extinction Rebellion Hamilton will be there to share our vision and priorities.

Seems lazy. Why not just host your own event instead of hijacking one you're trying to force the councillors into hosting?

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By grahamia (registered) - website | Posted October 17, 2019 at 19:20:18

We do indeed host our own events. We offer a public lecture: Heading For Extinction, What to do about it? to any group in the city. Next offerings Oct 22 and Nov 28, 7pm at 330 Dundurn St S. Free admission and handouts. We offer two meetup groups in different parts of the city, next event is Oct 31 in Kirkendall neighbourhood. www.meetup.com/kirkendall-extinction-rebellion.

Comment edited by grahamia on 2019-10-17 19:22:30

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted October 18, 2019 at 11:54:03 in reply to Comment 130405

Sure, you host your own events - but not on the scale you demand by blocking my ability to get where I need to go. From the looks of it, you hold 1 meeting per month city-wide, rather than what you have proposed - which is that you want at least 30 meetings per month city-wide. Totally different things.

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By nicolesmith (registered) | Posted October 19, 2019 at 09:33:24

Hi, no not 30 meetings per month! We are talking about 30 per year. Totally different scale. Local so people can attend more easily and there are many other groups and people who will be speaking. Not a question of hijacking anything.

Cheers

Nicole

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted October 19, 2019 at 18:55:59 in reply to Comment 130410

Sorry, I misread that you wanted 2 per ward in the next 6 months, so you want 60 per year city-wide. Again, not as bad as 30 per month but much higher than the assumed 12 you hold each year.

I still don't know why them hosting 5x as many as you do would solve anything or why you blocking a road makes you think you will draw more people into your group or raise awareness. I saw 2 articles the day of (one on the Spec, 1 on CBC Hamilton, if memory serves) and nothing since. Did you achieve your goal?

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By ergopepsi (registered) | Posted October 20, 2019 at 11:14:30

It's too bad environmentalists seem to feel the need to be combative, especially with the very people they need on their side. Next time maybe when the bridge is up and people are waiting you could hand out coffee in compostable cups. Ask people to shut off their engines. Hand out washable straws, reusable shopping bags. Be nice. Stop being dicks.

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