People and Signs at the Oil Protest in Jackson Square

I broke one of my regular riding rules today–never start a ride in the rain. But I needed to get to the Quarter for today’s oil protest, and I most certainly wasn’t going to drive a car down there. I was soaked and muddy by the time I got there, but a quick towel-off at a friend’s house, and I was good to go. There weren’t nearly as many folks as I’d been expecting at the rally, But I think that was mostly a result of the rain. There were speakers shouting through the bullhorn, people with clever signs demanding an end to the leak and the use of Corexit, to boycott BP, to stop feeding our oil culture. I was talking with my students last week about rallies like this one. What do they really accomplish? they wanted to know. After chatting with my fellow rally-goers today, I realized that this rally wasn’t for BP. It wasn’t really making an argument to BP to do something, even though of course the speakers and the crowd have a lot of ideas for what to do to BP. I think it was more a chance for folks to come out and see like-minded people who are also suffering to make sense of what’s happening in the Gulf. It is a chance to get out some of the anger and frustration and worry that’s going on in so many homes right now. I think we all needed more than this rally, though. Thing is, a rally is a production–you need sound and art and music and fun. You need enough passion to let people see their pain reflected in each other. Unfortunately, we’re going to have a long summer of practice getting these things right.

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