by Eleanor Goldfield

Despite camera troubles, today’s action presented a bold image of the continued pressure put on FERC and their rubber stamping policies. Although the primary focus of this event was to highlight the destruction of land used to grow sweet potatoes in North Carolina, participants from Texas to Pennsylvania to Washington state took to the mic to share FERC horror stories of their own. And while the solemn reality of exploding pipelines and shattered livelihoods echoed up through the FERC offices, this was not a 2-hour funereal event. As Saul Alinsky noted in his Rules for Radicals , “A good tactic is one your people enjoy.” Be it the creative foundation of the event itself – passing out sweet potatoes and sweet potato pie to passersby – or indeed the sweet potato toss, “Sweet Potatoes Not Pipelines” was an inspiring blend of emotions that sought to both engage and educate. Various tactics were also employed – including picketing outside the front door, blocking the street and driveway and of course utilizing that sweet tangible reminder of the effects of dirty energy on our country.

Just as maple syrup in the Pancakes Not Pipelines action represented what FERC had already destroyed through their policy decisions, these sweet potatoes represent what will inevitably be lost if this regulatory agency continues to shirk its duty in protecting people and planet. As noted on the BXE site :

“Sweet potatoes are grown in eastern North Carolina, site of Duke Energy and Dominion Resources’ proposed ACP, which would run 550 miles through West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina. Land would be taken by eminent domain, including land where sweet potatoes are being grown, degrading soil fertility, threatening growers’ livelihoods, water and way of life and the chance for a stable climate for all of us.”

BXE goes on to make the connection between climate change and racism, something that the upcoming People’s Climate March participants are also boldly highlighting.

“This area has the highest concentration of people of color in the state: African American, indigenous, and Latino, and lower-than-average income for N.C., so it’s no surprise that the pipeline was diverted from two earlier routes that were whiter and wealthier.

This area is also home to a growing number of solar and wind energy projects. This renewable future is better for farmers and all energy consumers – that is, all of us. It’s time to leave the gas and all fossil fuels in the ground!”

As people gather this weekend for a big climate march in DC, these frontline communities are necessarily getting the message out to media and activist allies: We Will Resist.

To learn more about Beyond Extreme Energy, visit https://beyondextremeenergy.org

Note to any concerned parties : The leftover sweet potatoes were then donated to a local food bank.

Feel free to share images and write-up. Credit Eleanor Goldfield/Art Killing Apathy. Hi-res versions available.