In the fall of 2019, Jane Fonda decided to stop everything and take action to stop the climate crisis. Inspired by Greta Thunberg’s call to act like “our house is on fire” and guided by Naomi Klein’s Green New Deal advocacy, Jane reached out to Annie Leonard, co-Executive Director of Greenpeace USA, and other trusted allies to say she was ready to do whatever it would take to stop the climate crisis. Starting in October, she dropped all of her commitments and moved to DC so that — together with Greenpeace and other movement allies — she could launch “Fire Drill Fridays,” which would be weekly protests centered around civil disobedience and a demand Congress pass the Green New Deal.
Though it shouldn’t have been a surprise, it was a bit of a shock that the campaign became instantly iconic. In two short months, the D.C. protests reached hundreds of thousands of people through the media, social channels and what became in-person capital E “events” on Capitol Hill. Each week, the rallies included different speakers — celebrities, youth, Indigenous leaders, representatives from impacted and underrepresented communities, as well as movement and thought leaders — all demanding our leaders end fossil fuel expansion, pass a Green New Deal, and implement a plan for a responsible just transition of existing fossil fuels as rapidly as possible. The goal for this initial phase wasn’t mass turnout, but a diverse and high profile group of participants who could raise awareness and exert public pressure. Even still, there were more and more people each week, all wondering what would happen next.
So in just two months at the end of 2019, Fire Drill Fridays both ignited and tapped into the growing sense of urgency that something must be done to stop the climate crisis — and that we can’t wait for anyone else to do it. We’ve seen thousands of people join with us who agree that it’s time for bold, broad, and courageous direct action.
Now, in 2020, Greenpeace is going to help Jane and our allies take the project into a new phase where we’ll channel the energy from the past few months into a nationwide series of events in different cities — all calling for a Green New Deal, an end to new fossil fuels, and a just transition to a renewable economy. Jane and her friends will continue doing monthly Fire Drill Fridays in California starting February 7th, while around the country supporters and allies will lead their own Fire Drills in their communities with Jane’s blessing.
Jane, Greenpeace, and dozens of other organizational partners and allies will continue our work in this new distributed phase that will help us build power in communities across the country, as well as increase the pressure on elected officials and corporations. So on the first Friday in February, we’ll start in Los Angeles, and then we’ll keep going around the country until this crisis ends.