Spinal Column April 2021: From Front Line Actions to Solutionary Organizing

We know it's been awhile since you last got an update. A lot has been happening, and we'll try and summarize it here!

Backbone is featured in an award-winning documentary, just released on Earth Day. Buy a ticket/Watch: TheRaceToSaveTheWorld.com.


Creative Activism Highlights

In March, we supported Jacob Johns, Backbone Community Supported Organizer, to travel to the frontlines of the Stop Line 3 fight and sent imagery, in solidarity with Honor the Earth and Water Protectors. You can see some of the Backbone props in the new music video, No More Pipeline Blues - On this Land Where We Belong, with Waubanewquay, Winona LaDuke, Day Sisters, MuMu Fresh, Pura Fe, Soni Moreno, Jennifer Kreisberg, Indigo Girls, Bonnie Raitt and Joy Harjo.


Water Protectors in Minnesota are asking folks to come out and help Stop Enbridge Corporation's Line 3 Pipeline.  If you feel called to show up, info is at the Water Protector Welcome Center


For Earth Week this year, we activated our Solidarity Brigade network to support youth climate activists and the Gulf Coast.  Projections in 10+ cities happened this week, in solidarity with Power Shift Network. The message: Climate Justice = Economic Justice #DefendTheGulf  

Watch the Earth Day 2nd Line march and rally in DC, calling on President Biden to #DefendTheGulf from toxic fossil fuel extraction and pollution. 


Another campaign we supported was the Break Free From Plastics action, with projections across the country, in support of the recently introduced "Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act" bill in Congress.


Our Solidarity Brigade network, with lights in over 40 cities across the US, is committed to supporting groups on the front lines of the toxic petrochemical industry, as well as those rising up against labor injustice, air pollution, racism, and other inequities of our capitalist system.  Join our next creative activism call, Tuesday, May 25th. (RSVP link to come.)


Backbone supports the campaign to restore the Lower Snake River by breaching - removing the earthen berms of the dams - so that the wild salmon can migrate.  This is our last chance to stop extinction of a sacred species. Representative Mike Simpson (R-ID) has shown more backbone and proposed better solutions than anyone in the PNW; we're calling on our two Democratic Senators to take action and support real river restoration - instead of continued barging of tiny salmon down the river in metal tanks.  More info on this issue is HERE.  We're bannering across Washington State.  If you can join us, contact: [email protected].

Solutionary Rail

Solutionary Rail is making big leaps.  Our Team and work apparently broke through to the Biden Administration - the recently announced Infrastructure Bill includes this:

“To that end, the plan would establish a new Grid Deployment Authority within the U.S. Department of Energy to leverage existing rights-of-way for transmission lines along roads and railways. The new office would also support "creative financing tools to spur additional high priority, high-voltage transmission lines."

Our Solutionary Rail project has three main goals - modeshift of freight off of roads and onto rail, electrified rail, and using the railroad right of way for transmission.  We are very pleased that all our outreach on this issue has made a difference.  Now, we need to get policymakers' attention on modeshift - and work with railroad owners to electrify.

Check out our Stakeholder Interviews for recordings of recent calls, including this very compelling presentation by Robert Colón which asks, "Are Electric Vehicles the Answer"?

How do we weigh the public benefit around choices for electrification?  In addition to watching Robert's excellent presentation above, please check out this document that assesses the public interest served by balancing methods of freight decarbonization. These assessments are critical in choosing pathways to decarbonization that leverage efficiencies to minimize public harms, avoid unintended social justice, foreign policy, and climate harms.

We have a new Solutionary Rail slideshow that is designed for folks to watch on their own.  Take a look HERE.  On Friday, Bill will go through the slides and give an update on some of our research. Sign up to join us at this "briefing: SolutionaryRail.org/043021

In other SR News, Bill has joined the Transportation Research Board's Subcommittee for Freight Rail (a project of the National Academies of Sciences), we are refining a tool to calculate the True Cost of Freight to share with policymakers, and we've had some great success in our partnership with the Climate Rail Alliance in getting Wa State funding for further studies of the Amtrak Cascades Long Range Plan.

It is a vast project, and if you feel called to join the work, please plan to attend our Organizing Meeting, next week, Wednesday, April 28th at Noon Pacific/3pm Eastern.  To join and help move this project forward, click HERE.

Other updates

In January-February, we hosted a series of workshops on Modern Monetary Theory.  Interested in this new way of looking at federal budgeting, deficits, and spending?  Watch the recordings here: BackboneCampaign.org/mmt_videos

Our hyper-local work on Vashon Island continues, with a community time bank, presentations on resilience topics, including Repair Cafes and Teach-Ins.  Want to find out more about starting a time bank in your community?  Email us and we'll schedule a time to share what we've learned about building the local circular economy!

To keep this work growing, please consider making a tax deductible donation.  For a one time gift, click HERE; for a monthly recurring donation, click HERE.  Your generosity fuels the generosity we pass onto the many communities and causes that ask for creative tools, support and trainings.  If you're in Washington State and want to donate to Backbone as part of GiveBig, please make your donation here.

We are grateful to be able to show up and do this work, thanks to so many of you who support this creative activism and solutionary problem solving. Thank YOU for making a difference!

- Team Backbone- Bill, Amy, Laura, Phil

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