Despite what shortcomings exist in our world, 2011 was a year of hope in action. There was still plenty of war, pollution, famine, unemployment, poverty, and injustice. But 2011 was truly a special year, celebrating the resilience of the collective human spirit. In the digital age, it’s easier than ever to connect with our global brothers and sisters, to be inspired by their actions and livelihoods, and most importantly, to organize in favor of a more harmonious and sustainable world.
Let’s take a moment to celebrate all the wonder that happened in 2011.
1. Egypt Uprising. On January 26, 2011, an estimated crowd of 15,000 people protested the tyrannical regime of President Mubarak. They gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square and faced police attacks of tear gas and rubber bullets. The largest uprising in 30 years grew to more than a million people in just a few short weeks. One month later, Mubarak resigned in the face of populist pressure.
2. Occupy Wall Street. Inspired by the Egypt Tahrir uprising, Adbusters sparked the first Occupy Wall Street encampment in Zucotti Park on September 17, 2011. The movement grew like fire, and blazed across the United States. Occupy movements were found in cities everywhere – from Oakland to Chicago to Pittsburgh. Occupy was known as the leaderless people-powered movement for real democracy, giving voice to the collective anger of working class America against corporate greed and irresponsibility. While many Occupy camps have been taken apart by city governments and police, its spirit continues to thrive. It seems only a matter of time before Occupy evolves into a more resilient, cohesive movement.
3. Organic Farmers sue Monsanto GMO patented seed. In March, the Public Patent Foundation filed suit on behalf of 60 family farmers, seed businesses, and organic agricultural organizations, against Monsanto’s GMO seed. The organic plaintiffs, representing 270,000 members, sued preemptively to protect themselves of being accused of patent infringement, in case their crops would be contaminated by GMO seed.
4. 1,000 New Farmer’s Markets appeared in the USA, revealing a 17% growth rate. Farmer’s markets are growing at a remarkable rate, proving that there is the potential to rely on local, sustainably grown food.
5. Obama delays the Keystone XL pipeline for a 12-18 month review. TransCanada wanted to build thousands of miles of oil pipeline across North America to transport tar sands oil, one of the dirtiest methods of oil refinery that would destroy the local landscape and pollute local indigenous communities. Thankfully, 10,000 people encircled the White House in one of a multitude of smaller protests against Keystone XL, calling on Obama to reject the Keystone XL proposal.
6. Towns across New England Ban Natural Gas Drilling, aka Fracking via a Community Rights Bill. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania was the first city to ban fracking in their community, sparking towns across New England to follow in their footsteps. In 2011, dozens of communities worked with the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund to introduce and pass similar bills to ban fracking.
7. Dow Jones Sustainability Index shows overall growth about 30%. The Sustainability Index incorporates data on economic, environmental, and social reporting by selected companies. The overall growth of Sustainable Industries is a positive sign that more industries will incorporate sustainable practices in the future.
8. TIME’s person of the year was The Protester, in honor of populist uprisings from Tunisia to Wisconsin. While TIME magazine is not so much a people’s magazine, it is a symbolic move showcasing the power of the people.
What excited you most in 2011?
[CC image by Steve O's Photos via Flickr]