Carleen Pickard at Climate Rally DC

Carleen Pickard at Climate Rally DC

After months of organizing and momentum building, between 40- 50,000 climate activists showed up in Washington, DC at the largest climate rally in the history of the United States to send a clear message: It’s Time to Move Forward on Climate. 

Despite the cold, we all gathered. And we kept gathering and growing with thousands of people arriving by the minute.  Rev. Lennox Yearwood, leader of the Hip Hop Caucus kept us cheering, jumping and warm through the Forward on Climate rally.

We chanted ‘can’t stop, won’t stop’ between speakers on the rally stage where people such as indigenous leader, Chief Jacqueline Thomas of the Saik’uz First Nation, founder Bill McKibben, and President Obama’s former green jobs advisor Van Jones all highlighted the urgency of stopping the Keystone XL pipeline.

It was not until later when I saw the much-shared image that I really, really believed that fifty thousand of us demonstrated in Washington DC to change the course of climate change and  demand President Obama keep his promise to protect future generations and cancel the Keystone XL pipeline.


photo: Shadia Fayne Wood | Project Survival Media

A full recording of the rally can be watched here.

Hundreds of buses carried thousands of activists from states as far away as Florida, Michigan, Rhode Island and Texas, where direct action resistance is being led by women like Julia Trigg Crawford and 78 year old farmer Eleanor Fairchild. Crawford and Fairchild both joined Melina Laboucan-Massimo and Crystal Lameman, First Nations women from Alberta, Canada – ground zero of the tar sands – at an event later that evening called “Woman of the Frontlines Speak.

Speaking from both ends of the pipe, the packed room heard the devastating impacts of tar sands extraction on the environment, life and spirit. Impacts which would only be exacerbated by the Keystone XL pipeline.

Walter Riley at the Forward in Climate rally in San Francisco, CA

Walter Riley at the Forward on Climate rally in San Francisco, CA

Rallies and marches across the United States also carried the same message. Global Exchange was proud to also be present in San Francisco, at the 5000-person strong rally supported by dozens of local organizations and Idle No More.

Reports still cite a decision on the fate of the Keystone XL pipeline due soon, and no doubt politicians in Canada and the U.S. were watching Sunday’s events closely (Obama? Maybe – he was playing golf with Tiger Woods and 2 oil executives in Florida).

But I’m hopeful. In DC, speaking from the stage, Ponca Native rights activist Casey Camp-Horinek told the crowd, “Relatives, this is the beginning of change and I thank you and I love you.” Agreed.


Incensed about President Obama’s “guys weekend“? Join’s action and call the White House today.

Let’s keep the momentum going and stop the pipeline once and for all. Join the week of action to Stop Tar Sands Profiteers, March 16 -23.

FOC Cover Photo(1)Chances are that if you are reading this, you will know how I feel about the Tar Sands in Alberta, Canada. This oil extraction method is intensive and causes  irrevocable damage to the environment. The area is a catastrophic scar on the Earth. Land has been destroyed forever. Water has been permanently poisoned. First Nations communities struggle downstream to maintain a healthy and traditional lifestyle. Laborers are shipped in from Eastern Canada and Somalia to work intensive schedules. Crime drug and alcohol addiction has soared on the streets of Ft. McMurray. I’ve seen it, it’s a mess.

Communities across Canada and the U.S. have fought to keep pipelines used to transport the stuff off their land and out to sea because pipelines leak, they just do; because communities know that the short term jobs that it takes to build a pipeline are just that – short term, (while the effects are long term); and because companies like TransCanada don’t care about local impact or people like me and you.

The fate of the Keystone XL pipeline is still on the table (it’s been a roller coaster ride to date). If approved it will crack open the Tar Sands in unimaginable ways. It will increase extraction from the Tar Sands by 700,000 barrels a day and send it down to the Gulf of Mexico for processing and export. Bill McKibben has repeatedly called Keystone XL the fuse to the largest ‘carbon bomb’ we’ll ever know.ForwardOnClimate[1]

So, I’m taking action, with literally tens of thousands of others, to send an immediate message to President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry (who says he wants to make an announcement on Keystone XL ‘in the near term‘). This rally on February 17 is a first step to ensuring the President makes real strides in his second term on climate change.

Oh right, and the Tar Sands contribute to climate change, something big. Stopping Keystone XL is the first real stride the President can take.

On February 17, actions will take place across the country to move this country Forward on Climate. I am proud we are supporting the efforts in Washington D.C. and San Francisco. Momentum is huge – there are scientists, movie stars, Canadians, Canadian scientists and Canadian music stars supporting the efforts, thousands of people like you are coming to D.C. and the potential for thousands of others to take action online.


1) Watch this! Specialty Studios is offering the award-winning film WHITE WATER, BLACK GOLD free online for viewing and sharing by anyone through February 18.
2) Spread the word on Facebook and Twitter: Here are some social media messages you can use to help promote the climate rally action on Facebook and Twitter. Please share with your followers! (Or simply click the “Like” and “Retweet” buttons on the top right of this post.

  • Facebook: Tens of thousands of people are coming together to call on President Obama to move America Forward On Climate. Join them today by signing up to send a message on Facebook or Twitter:
  • Twitter: Join the largest US climate rally ever by sending a message to @BarackObama to move #ForwardOnClimate:

3) Join the Thunderclap: is using a new online tool to amplify our voices on Twitter and Facebook. It’s called Thunderclap — because together, that’s how loud we can be. They’re hoping to get 10,000 people on board — click here to join:

4) Submit Your Photos

There will be a giant screen at the rally, showing photos and messages of support from across the country — to get your message on the screen, take a photo showing your support for the action, or of a part of your community that you want protected from climate change, then email it to, with your location in the subject line. (Or, you can post your photo to Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #ForwardOnClimate).

Folks at will pick out the best ones to put on the screen for tens of thousands of people to see, just outside the White House.

5) Share Your Sign

Finally, the web team put together this nifty sharable sign-maker that you can use to make a custom sign declaring your support for the action. They’re beautiful, and easy to share on your social networks. Check it out:

Don’t forget to “like” and “retweet” this post to spread the word about the largest ever U.S. climate rally. Buttons are on the top right.