The environmental movement ignores culture-making. The classic strategy for Earth activism in the West is to shadow the perpetrator of the crime. Thus the policy-making and lobbying of the most destructive corporations - is matched by policy-writers and lobbyists from the advocacy groups. Even the websites of the Wildlife Conservancy and Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) - resemble corporate graphics.

The number of people reached by the leading institutions of the environmentalism is a sliver of society. The default position for most media is to remain silent about Earth, with coverage of Climate Change sliding since 2009 in the USA. There is silence until a climate disaster demands the top of the news.

When revolutionary change came in the past century - the heralds of new values were comedians and singer-songwriters. There were words, delivered by melody, beat, and/or outrageous personality. From former times, we could cite John Lennon, Andy Kaufman, Lili Tomlin, Gil Scott Heron, Joe Strummer. Who is it now? Lady Gaga? Shakira? Stephen Colbert? We must grow new performance artists of this international rank - whose passionate defense is Earth.

Performers that might carry the Earth's message are not supported by the big budgets of the environmental movement, not by NGO's nor by their foundations. They do not think of culture-makers as people that they can invest in. Even as they watch more and more artists succumb to the dumbing down of corporate sponsorship - they hesitate to risk money on the Earth artists' wildness. They stop at educational events, teach-ins, conferences with workshops - which is GREAT - as far as it goes, but….

Not betting on culture-making is the wrong decision. It comes from fear. There should be Earth activist producers roaming the small clubs right now, looking for the Bob Marley of the movement. How much longer can the Earth's voices to go un-amplified? My suggestion: look to the kind of culture-making that comes from the activist side. Paul Watson, the Yes Men, the late Wanghari Maathi and her amazing speeches and tree-planting ceremonies, Julia Butterfly Hill and Tim DeChristopher.

These are newsmakers who are always ready with a statement, a speech, a moral homily, a symbolic act that borders on drama. And they offer a kind of entertainment by risking arrest. The perp walk is the oldest performance. When you expand the arts to include activists, then James Baldwin, Victor Jara, Emma Goldman's "Mother Earth," and Pete Seeger come to mind. Let's not stand on ceremony. The Earth needs bold dazzling words, with or without a guitar. We need more Monkey Wrench Gangs, more Silent Springs. I remember Rachel Carson personally confronting chemical executives…

In New York City - you would think that we need some Earth culture bad. If only because we spew so much talk out to the world. But our Earth performance goes from celebrities shilling about fracking all the way down to costume rituals in our community gardens. (Of course there are artists doing daring Earth projects on their own, in wetlands, on rooftop with gardens - and they often work in unsupported obscurity.) So you have the vast world of the New York stage - the dance, cabaret, Broadway, readings and concerts. At the time of Hurricane Sandy, these thousands of stages were thoroughly free of drama about the Earth. Sandy turned off those footlights.

Ultimately, all culture will be about the Earth. Nobody will be painting Campbell's Soup cans when the flood gets high and the fire gets hot. We are being pulled into the extinction that we forced on the rest of the biosphere. Our songs and dances and poems must express our desire to live - with such anguish and emergency and beauty! - that we rise to do the radical human act that matches the unprecedented action of the Earth.

Someone might call this "culture-making." We step into hazmat suits and spread pink polka dots on bulldozers at the construction site for the Spectra (fracking gas) pipeline on the Manhattan-side riverbank of the Hudson. We make media of it, still pictures that can be slide-showed on Flickr, creating a sort of film. The Stop Shopping Choir composes a song - "The River Song." We walk audience people from performances to the site, and THEY sing the song to the river with us, standing there, the citizen choir in hazmat suits. This culture-making environmentalism should not resemble "Protest," which is used like a consumer label by the commercial press to dismiss us. And god knows they've been doing that for years. If culture we're making is more interesting than the clichéd march-and-rally, and the first response isn't to point and call us "Protesters," - now we're getting somewhere! "Culture" is a big haughty word, but it makes good yogurt too. We could call it "life-making." Let's be doing something fun and memorable, people. Culture-making can take the form of a flash mob of nakedness in a big bank, a re-issue of "The Monkey Wrench Gang," a climate camp with parents and children that stops an aluminum smelter. The point is to add a dimension beyond the cycle of protest, litigation, legislation, blogging commentators, policy. This sea of recycling images is where the corporations want us to drown in our well-intentioned agony. The Spectra Pipeline? - nobody wants it. But democracy doesn't work around here. All the towns and community boards and citizens' health groups along the route of the pipeline, from the Pennsylvania fracking fields to playground at the end of Horatio Street that would be incinerated by a gas explosion - everyone's agin' it. But JP Morgan Chase is for it, Mike "Wal Street" Bloomberg is for it, and a big Texas energy company is for it. It's a pure trinity of 1% Devilishness - money, politics and fossil fuel. This threesome of natural Hellfire - they mainly deal in subterfuge. They get all the regulatory panels to vote yes on the pipeline before most New Yorkers know anything about it. People can't tell you with much specificity where the construction site is located; how the pipeline is supposed to come into the West Village at an old pier where they park garbage trucks, then cross the Westside highway along Gansevoort Street in the meatpacking district and turn left toward the Con Ed grid. Our offering so far is to take audiences to the site and dress them up. Sing songs and leave clouds of hot pink dots. We're just getting started. The important thing now is for people to know where the construction site is located. What, physically, does it look like. Our costume comedies make that easier to do. We need to feel the incision point of this big pipeline; the 800 million cubic feet of natural gas shooting through the steel tube out of the river… Our reaction must become visceral. Now we are far more angry. And scared. Experience this thing. Then people won't call us protesters anymore, or NIMBY-types, or liberals… they won't call us names because we're chasing them down the street. We're stronger than their marketing. Stronger than their shopping. We're strange agents from the Earth. With sticky-backed hot pink polka dots! Amen!
Down on Henry Street just uptown from Foley Square in Manhattan, there is a church called Mariner's Temple. One Sunday we were among hundreds of folks listening while Mother Henrietta Carter preached. She stood up there, white-robed, and gestured out across the assembled faithful. "We need to see some embracing today." Mother Carter said, and then she explained that two families were blessed just recently with newborn babies, in the same week… She boomed out: "I want you two families - come down here and embrace each other! We'll wait! Oh, you come down here! I know you two families been quarreling about something, you don't speak much anymore. Oh we all know about it. Now - You come down here and you embrace each other. You bring those babies with you!" The two families slowly come to Mother Carter and embraced. They were in tears. People called out "Praise!" Embrace You see from the title of my little sermon, that I am asking the people from two movements, and Occupy Wall Street, to do the same. These two groups are difference-makers in the world. In the last year and a half - who has had more impact in our country? OWS and 350 share the view that entrenched power is only stopped by people power. In fact, they both call themselves "movements," right up front in their introductory remarks, like they're writing their own history. They both have galvanized thousands of citizens who hadn't necessarily planned to work so hard, to make so much contact with strangers, to feel such exhilaration. But it is time for the two families to "come down here and embrace." I have frequented both worlds, and communication between 350 and Occupy is spotty at best. 350's leader Bill McKibbon did an uplifting job mic-checking in New York within a few days of the founding of Liberty Square, and then he marched with OWS on October 5th. And there are Occupy people everywhere, certainly in many of the environmental orgs. There are even OWS people working in big banks. So - although there is some embracing by individuals within 350 and OWS, a recent march from the United Nations to the Federal Energy Commission offices on 34th Street - was all too typical. A spirited protest against the Jersey-to-Manhattan SPECTRA Pipeline by the Occupy "Environmental Solidarity" working groups in NYC, there was no-one from with us. At the same time, lots of OWSers in New York can't answer the simple questions about the XL Pipeline. So you have two activist groups both opposing natural gas pipelines and they don't seem to know about each other. Ships passing in the night. Why? What Each Has To Give Now you might say that the orgs of the Left always splinter apart, so why be surprised. And you could say that 350 and Occupy are two very different animals and can't be expected to get along. I disagree. We have a life-and-death emergency here on this planet. 350 and OWS agree about that. So we must do what gathers the most power. We should work together. I would gently suggest that should pay far more attention to Occupy right now, after the loss through police violence of the town squares. Just to cite the most obvious fact: there was the intoxicating unity among progressive people who journeyed to Zuccotti Park last fall from Sept 17th to November 17th - and I know that this happened in city after city and town after town. There were 2600 encampments at the height of the movement. The energy in those 8 weeks is renewable! So what can OWS offer? Occupy discovered that living together in public space is a protest form with big impact. The ingredients are famous now. Starting democracy over with hand signals and consensus and no leaders. Feeding each other, making libraries, media, signs; spending the day together in the commons. We had forgotten that all radical change in the USA has involved some form of living in public. The other thing that we shared in our cashless temporary nirvana was the danger of being surrounded by police who work for the 1%. We locked arms, sang, tended to the wounded and got legal help. There is a clear solidarity among the OWS veterans from experiencing the violence of entrenched power. This is just one reason that the Occupy community is radical, and shares members with the coming-back-to-life of Earth First! The Stop Shopping Church performed at many Occupy communities in the time last winter that the police had their way. It was fascinating to watch the Occupiers turn and look at where they came from, and re-take their own worlds again, going back home and making working groups in living rooms and church basements. Are we ready for our return? Some of us thought May Day was the moment. Now it feels more like the right cause, the right campaign, would be blessed by the replay of OWS. Yes Occupy people have a great deal to share with the organized funded NGO's like NGOness Plus Occupy I'm thinking of 350 because they are the ascendant NGO in the last year and a half. Their "Climate Movement" is so important. But no Occupy working group is listed among their partners at the website. And yet the language of Occupy is adopted, the "99%" along with the newly glamorized verb "to occupy." Truth be told, the graphics and database values of 350 resemble the Sierra Clubish NGO's that accept millions from Wall Street and the fracking companies. NGOness is a meaningful style to avoid, and pummeling people with donations form-letters and all the database stuff - damn! We should have learned by now that amassing all the unique pixelated visits in the world isn't as important as 40 people living in the town square. We need 10,000 Tim DeChristophers, not 10,000 emails on the data-base. I urge 350 people to call Occupy people and vice versa - we are resisting the same fracking 1%. Of course Occupy has much to learn from as well. If some of the stateside 350 actions seem like parking tickets compared to the beating OWS has taken - there is very creative work going on within the 188 countries of actions. OWS has the challenge now of discovering the new commons and 350's international world of activists make their "350" choreographies on beaches, out in fields and forests and even under-water, as we saw in the famous Maldives town meeting in scuba gear. 350 seems to find new Zuccottis around the world. The worldwide creativity of 350 encourages us to find new commons in the seams of our cities, where the people can find us but the police don't think to look. I gaze upon the city scape of New York and 350 helps me see Occupies on rooftops, ferries, subway platforms, fire-escapes and of course, in bank lobbies… We will re-meet one day back in our Liberty Squares, but first we must journey through unexpected public spaces for a time, gathering citizens along the way. I'm saying all this because I believe that the two most successful Earth orgs in our country will combine forces. As the C02 emissions climb, the bad weather and extinction waves accelerate - we need to "come down here and embrace." If we look ahead to the moment that JP Morgan Chase is Occupied, funding for fossil fuels industries is ended, and the disastrous climate shapes the policies of our big institutions… Our glorious revolution won't just feature people with haircuts and clean clothes. And it won't be only the funkier look of weeks of sleeping in pup tents. The change won't happen unless we're both there, going down to re-take the public space. We'll have to "come down here and embrace!" Amen? -- Rev Billy
Occupy Jail, Occupy Big Banks By Rev Billy We are submitting to the mug shots of an activist photographer. We are confessing to crimes against big banks IN ADVANCE. So there is a pre-criminal condition that we share. The disappearers come at us from two directions. Jail and big banks. So we try to shed double light. First, we feel the humiliation of the mug-shot, feeling the gaze of the security state, en route to the retinal shot and the strip search, the scramble to be represented legally, to be heard, to be free again. But then free to do what? Free to cause acute and articulate embarrassment, to destroy utterly the FAKE PRESTIGE OF BIG BANKS. Will someone give me an Amen? JP Morgan Chase is the Devil, Citi and B of A complete the trinity of Evil. Tops in climate-killing investments - billions of profits for creating C02 emissions - at the same time that they give the New York Police Department direct payments to keep the non-consumers (especially non-consumers of color) lost in the prison system. The Stop Shopping Church singers spend time in the Tombs, like most Occupy workers, behind bars with the folks who are there for a much longer time, in many cases with no idea why they are there and unsure about basic legal questions. A person can be late for something and take a short cut through the park and get caught in a sweep, god knows. The guns that stopped them were paid for by Chase, and their homes were foreclosed by Chase, and the air that we all breathe is poisoned by Chase. Here's an idea: When we get out of here let's take some radical songs into the posh hushed lobby of JP Morgan Chase! Come violate the front porches of the Vampire Squids with a counter-drama from the Stop Shopping Choir. Over the summer months follow our campaign. We'll take the theatrical stage of the bank lobbies of JP Morgan Chase, Citi, and Bank of America. The art section is full of emoting actors on stages, but does Broadway have any electrical charge left? Chase, Citibank and B of A - their lobbies are the stages of the Lake of Hellfire. Wow! That's a show! To shout "You put billions into C02 emitting industries!" in a bank lobby - oh the echo comes back as the Devil's bad gas. Come with us behind the lines. Nothing - nothing is scarier than a big bank lobby. Revolujah!

We believe that bank lobbies need to be violated quickly.  By "bank lobby" we mean the entry-spaces, the quiet, clean theaters that radiate outward from the bank's power, with the secret vaults and super computers at the center.  These fore-rooms secure the control of consumers, reducing our ability to influence the institutions, which are killing the physical life of the earth, our communities and our independence.

So, this is our battleground — where the requirements come at us from cash machines, teller windows, surveillance cameras, security officials, displays of printed matter and tables for banking forms.

Performances by citizens of conscience who demand changes in deadly investment practices of big banks — must begin throughout the world.  Indeed, this has begun with the righteous filling of commons like Syntagma Square in Athens, Placa Catalunya in Barcelona, Puerto del Sol in Madrid, Occupy Wall Street in New York, and Russia and Chile and Madison, Wisconsin and on and on in this glorious uprising.  If corrupt governments are swept aside, the banks — which own the governments, will have their desperate end-game.

By pranks and prayers in the bank lobbies we are walking in through the front door.  Re-humanize the banks!  Use jokes, gender confusion, manifestos, and simply loot the thousands of gestures, costumes and words that the strict decorum of the place has prohibited.  Above all — bring the music! 

The FEAR OF BANKING tour began in Zurich at the invitation of Cabaret Voltaire, where initial in-bank protests were performed with Occupy Zurich activists and Mike Bonanno of the Yes Men.  Now we have come to Barcelona at the invitation of The Influencers, and joining us here are the Russian protesters Voina - the world-class activists who stage strategic orgies in Kremlin buildings.  Evan Roth, the hackster with Free Art and Technology is here.  Many exciting artists have come.  We hope to meet them down at the local transnational bank.

See FEAROFBANKING.COM, or the events page at - for the banking stops in this first tour.  We will return to New York for the environmental justice's working group’s (Occupy Wall St.) Valentine's Day party for Bank of America. Then off to the Bay Area for Occupy the Truth.  Please meditate on our bank invasion as Yeti mop-abominations in Zurich and create your own lobby performances.  We would be honored to greet our 50,000 socialites with your indiscretions!

Consumerism is violent. The apologists for ads and products, life styles and brought-to-you-by media are disastrously wrong. The thousands of marketing confrontations that a person must get through daily are not persuasive, clever, or normal. The 50 foot-tall actor wearing a watch and grinning at me - is not my new best buddy, Amen? This is atmospheric assholishness…
The mono-culture of Consumer Society - this corporate economy - can only be created by threatening us with loss of our good looks, status, youth and power. They want us to quietly believe that without their products we will suffer the annihilation of our personal identity.
And what does this psychic aggression have to do with the police I found surrounding Zuccotti Square this afternoon? A longing for a very recent pleasure of freedom from corporate bullying swept through us as we stared at the empty square. When we lived in that little plot of granite, there were no corporations. There were no threats. We had a gift economy. We were being of service to one another. It was a civil revolution. What am I saying? It still is.
What was it that made journalists froth at the mouth and cops come running with their pepper spray on September 17th? At least part of it was - we were starting a new economy. Their products were not inside the square to supervise our desires. And - once Consumerism is established as the dominant economy, it is far easier to militarize police and physically attack those who resist the allegiance to corporations. Yes it is surprising that the shift from psychic to physical violence is that automatic. But sure enough - once Consumerism was banned from a small patch of ground - especially public space in the shadow of Wall Street - that armed police were terrorized and the logos on the sides of the surrounding buildings seemed to angrily glow.
The police are paid directly by big corporations. So they are both city cops and rent-a-cops. They are still spending the 4.5 million given them by JP Morgan Chase shortly after the takeover of the square on September 17th. Was that extraordinary pay-out really a gift to the city to restore order in the face of anarchists? No, of course not. The institution sitting on the top of the present economy saw a clear threat to their scam. The gift economy aspect of Occupy Wall Street was immediately vilified in the commercial press as hippy-esque, bongo-ridden and noble-but-naive. We didn't listen to those people, watching their anger alongside that of the cops. And that was before two thousand Occupy sites erected their tents around the world. We were learning to start a democracy from scratch, and found it fascinating, and still do, and so do more and more people.
How far will police and law enforcement agencies go in attacking those who enter public space and stay there together, these islands of no Consumerism? At what point does a policeman admit that the refusal to cooperate with consumerism is not grounds for violence? If they are violent, then they have made their choice. But we will continue to say (without violence but full of conviction!) that you police are part of the 99% and - we welcome you!
Reverend Billy's Freak Storm" finds our wandering preacher at Occupy London on the steps of St. Paul's Cathedral. We open with the Stop Shopping Choir sings their "99%" anthem, livestreaming from Occupy Wall Street. "Rev sez: There are 2000 occupations now. We don't even have a data-base yet - but we reach each other somehow. We share the single belief that a kind of power must be overthrown, the corruption of our democracy by big banks and corporations. We share our direct democracy hand-signals, our working groups. Mostly - we are doing what revolutions do - we've got the commons and we live there. Sharing, helping, dish-washing, flirting, teaching - this is a frontier after so many years of isolation from one another in Consumerism. Products isolated us. Advertising threatened us into a "product loneliness." Directly living together - it's so basic and yet it is a rediscovery of our power. We must get through the winter... "Reverend Billy's Freak Storm" sermon #3 about the Koch brothers action at Lincoln Center. The First Amendment is back!! A strange faith is brewing for these apocalyptic times. Post-fundamentalist and happy-crazy with a 35 voice choir and worshippers throughout the world -- "The Church of Earthalujah!" began in New York City in 2009. We have cast the Global Warming Devils from the cash machines of JP Morgan Chase and UBS -- the Swiss bank that invests in the Koch brothers and climate change skepticism. In our church we believe that the natural disasters are messages from a living thing and we're teaching each other to listen and pray. Earthalujah! Credits:Camera: Emily James and Leah Borromeo, Editing: Richard Dedomenici
This little film shows Tuesday's simulcast between the London and New York OCCUPY communities. I flew out to the encampment at St. Paul's Cathedral, and we sang the 99% song together, across the Atlantic - what a wonderful moment! That made the whole London visit worth it - when Londoners held up a sheet to show the Stop Shopping Choir from Wall Street. We want to go to OCCUPY communities carrying a message of courage as we head into the winter - and as Wall Street/police wait us out. Give a loved one this gift: help the Stop Shoppers tour world of tent-cities. We'll make media of it for all the 2000 communities. Yes children - Give the Gift that keeps on Occupying. Revolujah!
This Saturday thousands of people around the country are transferring their money from large corporate banks to small banks & credit unions. We've been doing this for some time, check out our own Dragonfly's amazing stealth video during our (successful!) campaign against JP Morgan Chase and their financing of Mountaintop Removal We begin our day at Union Theological's James Chapel on the Upper West Side, after some fervor and an inter-choir rendition of our OWS anthem We Are The 99% (as we gather together) we will accompany people to nearby bank branches as they begin their money moving. Then we head downtown to the Bank of America in Union Square (14th and University Place) where we will enact ritual glorification on a group of people removing their money from that singularly evil institution. Join Us. Dress is festive, transcendent, outrageous. If you plan to move your money or already have and so wish to be glorified please let us know savitri(@) 11 AM James Chapel btwn 120-122 on Broadway 1 PM Union Square corner of 14th St and University Place RVSP on Facebook: Rev Billys
Tuesday, November 15, 7 p.m. - 9 p.m. @ The Tank 151 West 46th Street, 8th Floor, New York City Tickets: $10 at the door RSVP on Facebook: Join critically acclaimed author, KtB editor, and founder Jeff Sharlet and the unstoppable evangelists of anti-consumerism Reverend Billy and Savitri D for a discussion about religion and politics in the Occupy movement and beyond. The conversation, held at the renowned Midtown performance space The Tank on November 15, will be hosted by Killing the Buddha. Savitri D and Reverend Billy lead a New York City-based radical performance community, with 50 performing members and a congregation in the thousands. They are wild anti-consumerist gospel shouters, earth-loving urban activists who have worked with communities on four continents defending land, life, and imagination from reckless development and the extractive imperatives of global capital. Their most recent book, edited by Alisa Solomon, is The Reverend Billy Project: From Rehearsal Hall to Super Mall with the Church of Life After Shopping. You know Jeff Sharlet: the bestselling author of The Family and, most recently, Sweet Heaven When I Die: Faith, Faithlessness, and the Country In Between, a collection of 13 portraits and personal essays on subjects like an accidental anarchist martyr, a hell-house preacher, the last great Yiddish writer, Cornel West, and the nastiest banjo player who ever lived. The Washington Post wrote that Sweet Heaven belongs "to the tradition of long-form, narrative journalism best exemplified by writers such as Joan Didion, John McPhee, Norman Mailer and Sharlet's contemporary David Samuels," and that Sharlet "deserves a place alongside such masters, for he has emerged as a master investigative stylist and one of the shrewdest commentators on religion's underexplored realms." Sharlet is a contributing editor for Harper's and Rolling Stone. (by KtBniks)