Right before the party, a group of warmly bundled figures gathered nearby on an iconic stretch of State Street, in order to celebrate Global Divestment Day with an Overpass Light Brigade action. The Holders of the Light had to brave freezing conditions, and to repeatedly run off the street to allow city buses to pass by. However, the visual effect of the action was stunning, and attracted a small crowd of passersby who pulled out cell phones to capture the scene.
The chilly Holders of the Light were soon able to warm up at the "Love, Resist, Divest... Party!" event at a great Irish bar near the capitol in Madison, Brocach. Hosted by 350 Madison, NoKXL Pledge of Resistance-Madison, 350 UW and Fossil Free UW, the party was a complex, colorful swirl of merrymaking and activism.
Cheerful members of the sponsoring organizations greeted guests at the door. Wearing broad smiles and paper hearts reading "Ask Me About Divestment," they invited attendees to contribute to the Multi-School Divestment Fund. This newly minted fund allows people to donate money to their alma mater on the condition that the school divests from fossil fuels. The party's organizers had succeeded in getting UW-Madison added to the fund in time for Friday's event, and raised $935 for the fund from 27 donors (with the majority of the money earmarked for UW-Madison).
Moving deeper into the crowd at Brocach, guests found plates piled high with themed desserts. Among the many confections, they could sample "tar-sands covered" strawberries, nibble on tear drop-shaped "dil-bits," and indulge in small orange "divest-mints" marked with the characteristic "fossil free X."
Partygoers were invited to fill out handmade postcards to President Obama, asking him to stop the Keystone XL pipeline. Each postcard was unique, and most featured images of past Keystone XL-related actions by local photographers.
Over the course of the evening, 52 people filled out postcards to the President. The messages were often heartfelt and personal.
For many party attendees, however, the real treat of the evening was singing along to songs about fossil fuel divestment, tar sands and climate change to the upbeat music of the Learning Curve. The melodies were from familiar pop tunes and protest songs, but most lyrics were written by local activists. The songs addressed both national and local issues, ranging from carbon emissions and the Keystone XL pipeline, to Enbridge's attempts to expand its Line 61 tar sands pipeline through Wisconsin, and the campaign to get UW-Madison to divest its endowment from fossil fuels.
At one point during the evening, people took a break from the festivities to gather for a photo urging UW-Madison to divest. The size of the group made fitting everyone into the photo challenging, as the crowd spilled into the side room and photographers pressed back against the pub's bar to get their shots.
For years, Madison has been a hotbed of activity in the fight against tar sands and climate change, as well as the push for fossil fuel divestment. With such a strong network of smart, creative activists leading the charge, we can expect to see more great things happening in 2015.
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