acdc first impressions


I’m in!


P.S.: We’re having a planning meeting this weekend for a NorthEast Convergence this fall (date TBA). Could be nice if there were a way to link those…

Sabine von Mering, Ph.D.

Professor of German and Women’s and Gender Studies
Director, Center for German and European Studies
Brandeis University
MS 024
415 South Street
Waltham, MA 02454
Phone: (781) 736-3227
Fax (781) 736-3207

Jim what a lovely humble inviting letter.   This reminds me of the “Moving Earth” event organized Sept. 24, 2011, where we from Brandeis rallied first in Waltham (near the Waltham Common, at a church if I recall) and then met other groups for speeches and music at a harborside park in Boston.   Some people biked in, some (including me) took the commuter rail from Waltham.  By sheer chance there was my mother-in-law (see photo) a rabid Quaker, who had come in from Cambridge!   The speakers were powered by pedaling, it was nifty.   So the “spokes” it should be emphasized can be mass transit, as its a long haul from Brandeis to Boston, Harvard, etc.
Eric Olson and Kitty Rush, Moving Earth, 24 Sept 2011 low rez


Jim Recht,Thanks for putting me on you list.  I’m much involved and enthusiatic for Boston College’s CJ@BC, as its Mike Donlan, our very expert layer/climate adviser.  I’m very grateful for the demo all of your Boston schools put on at B.C. April 12th, in view of the really hostile reception our BC group has haa from our administration.  I’m forwarding this response to Mike, to Erin Sutton., who has been taking care of a lot of the wider communications for CJ@BC, and, the two great gurus of the group, Bobby Webrenowitz and Nate Nesbitt.  I’m not very available myself as faculty rep at rallies/marches, as I have srious problems in both knees that make me slow down pedestrian traffic, and am also on a chemo-plus-radiation program through the rest of this year, which will keep me from teaching this term and slow me down for the time being.

For all the CJ@BC folks: I trust you’ll find a couple of faculty who can take part with you publicly in these events.

I think all these suggestions/invitations from Jim Recht.  Erin, I was encouraging you yesterday to press forward particularly on joining the Jesuit and other Catholic school (notably Notre Dame and many others) in coalition, in view especially of The Pope Francis Encyclical and his activities in the U.S. in September.  Most of their student bodies also face reluctant administrations, as nothing more frightens any of these administrations than getting into a scrap with their funders.  Arguments of consciece carry little weight with them against that.  These jesuit and Catholic school student organisations should work closely, i./e.  be fellow members, of the coalitions Jim Recht is speaking of.

I also pointed out that the regulatory agencies, like any other courts, are slow to pick up on any petitions from grass-roots newcomers.  The size and importance of a coalition of  students organizations

And I hope, Jim, that you and the coalitions are looking further than the divestmentcampaigns alone.  I’m all for divestment by our schools, as a powerful symbolic tool.  But I’m also
very anxious to develop the unique standing before all levels of the law, of the entire student population, as petitioners for strong legal anti-global-warming action, special standing because you are the first generation that will be disastrously affected by the many results of global warming, and your own children will fact a drastically depleted world to live in (if they are even able to do so).  That legal standing is mosts effective before the Administrative Law courts, the regulatory agencies, who are not limited to i nterpreting standing law, as are the regular courts, but are able to take into account, holistically, properly attested future dangers and damages.  The EPA has already risen at least partially to this responsibility, with strong encouragement from President Obama.  FERC, the agency with the most central responsibility, has been especially prohibitive of any action beyond assessing direct business costs of climate change to the fossil fuel industries and is to all practical putposes their agency rather than the public’s  What we have urged is that FERC be required to enter a study (serious but not a delaying tactic) of all the effects of climate change, including all the medical and environmental cost, including the Pentagon’s interest in the desperate wars over resource that are bound to result from global warming, and to assess the costs per ton of GHGs on the basis of that joint study.

I’ve written to Secretary of Energy  Ernest Moniz to that effect back in October.  What I got back was a form letter from a subordinate that dodged any questions or appeals I raised.  Given Moniz’ involvement with John Kerry in the Iran talks, I’ve been witing for those to finish before sending him a follow-up letter.  The whole matter has received far more attention from the public since the time I wrote him, and I’m now convinced I should write sooner rather than later.  Moniz’ first association with John Kerry, I understand, was over their joint concern about climate change many years ago.  In view of his powerful response to the Pope’s Encyclical, I will be writing to Bill McKibben also.  He is the greaqt inspirer who has raised student acivity all over the country.  I’ll ask him to broaden the agenda also to taking advantage of this special legal standing of the student  generation and of course, to firing up their elders with this concern about climate change.

Ray Helmick, S.J.
Lecturer kin Conflict resolution
Department of Theology
Boston College

Jim, for what it’s worth, this is great on multiple levels — but I think we need more than a march (or converging marches) and rally in one of the predictable public spaces. For this to have any impact, at this mature stage of the divestment fight, I think we need both a HUGE turnout for the march/rally (which is what you seem to be aiming for) *and* significantly escalated tactics (by a smaller number of people willing to take legal risk). And I think we need a target, a leverage point. Instead of Gov Center or Boston Common, why not storm the State House (where divestment legislation is pending) and occupy it? Or some other seat of power, political and/or corporate. Why not shut down the financial district? We need to DISRUPT business as usual. A march/rally will be ignored.
My two cents.
-Wen Stephenson

Hi Jim,

Your proposal is not out of left field.  How about talking Grand Slam?!  It’s a proposal that could grow state and nationwide with the alignment of 350MA and  Count me in.  More later.

Thanking YOU and all involved.   We can do this.

Mary Dewart


Original letter:

Hello Divestophiles:

hope you will take a moment to look over the attached draft proposal for an XL-size multi-campus action to take place some time between early October and the start of COP21 in December*.
I put it together with Harvard Alum Eric Grunebaum (producer among other things of The Last Mountain We have discussed it with Bob Massie and with Chloe Maxmin, albeit at this point only in broad strokes; both of them have expressed interest and enthusiasm though nothing yet set in stone. (Aside: Chloe has stressed that as she is no longer a student and therefore no longer a member of Divest Harvard, her views are not necessarily those of the latter. However, she remains engaged as a climate activist!)
I sincerely appreciate that this proposal may seem somewhat out of left field! I also appreciate that you may be planning/working on other things for this fall! If that’s the case (or if it simply sounds totally crazy) just let us know, you will not hurt our feelings. And if there are other projects that you feel are more practical/pertinent, just let us know that too, and we can let this go! And in any case look forward to continued work together.
Looking forward to hearing from you!
*If on the sooner end, it would be a huge motivator for students, especially incoming freshmen and others new to the movement; if on the later end, it would be a powerful way to support strong action in Paris.
Yours Truly,
Jim Recht with Eric Grunebaum
Original (draft) attachment:


Dear fellow divestment activists:

Moved by Pope Francis’s encyclical, mindful of what’s at stake in this fall’s Paris Talks, and ready to build on our accomplishments:

– Divest Harvard’s Heat Week, April 12-17

– BU’s student referendum on April 8

– BC’s lightning protest on April 12

– MIT’s call to divest from coal and tar sands on June 15

– Northeastern’s DivestFest on April 17

– Brandeis’s Committee on Fossil Fuel Divestment.

We find ourselves in a moment of unprecedented opportunity – opportunity to push the campus divestment movement forward.  We are reaching out to you now with an ambitious proposal: The All-College Divestment Convergence.

We are confident that after reviewing the following basic plan below, you will agree: it is altogether doable, if we begin work now. We therefore ask a simple question: Will you join us in making it happen?

The College Divestment Convergence (aka CDC or ACDC)


  • Participants: students, faculty, alumni and supportive community members from every college campus in the Boston area (and beyond.)


  • A sequel to each of our individual institution efforts, massively expanded and taken to next level of urgency. Aspiring to be on par with the New York Climate March. An event which college students will not want to miss.

Where and When?

  • A one-day event between late-September and mid-October.- Morning: Kickoff rallies at every participating campus- Noon: Marches launched from each campus – spokes converging at symbolic central hub (Potentially: Boston or Cambridge Common,   Government Center, Harvard Yard…?)

– Afternoon: Rally and speakers


  • Maximum impact will require not just students, but also faculty and alumni from each school that has a divest movement: Tufts, Northeastern, Emerson, Simmons, Wheelock, UMass (all campuses), Boston College, Brandeis, Berklee, Lesley, Harvard, MIT, Suffolk, Wentworth – and potentially beyond, Smith, Mt. Holyoke, Amherst, Williams, etc. etc. All schools that have active divestment groups statewide and nationally are invited.
  • Convergence of institutions of higher learning; convergence of science, morality, civic responsibility and leadership.


  • Star power:- “Familiar” (McKibben, Gore, Farmer?)- “New Faces” (Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Natalie Portman?)

Organizing structure

  • Core leadership group with at least 2 students, 2 faculty, 2 alumni at each school
  • Rapid seeding of organizing snowflakes at each campus
  • Consider working with outside organizations as consultants/funding sources/contact sources:, 350-Mass, PSR

Time line

  • July 1–15: Identify core leadership group and key supporters• July 15–30: Identity organizing snowflakes at each participating campus, invitations to speakers with date to some extent dependent on availability
  • August 1–30: Snowflakes engage in outreach and publicity, core group identifies funding sources and community supports, and coordinates between campuses• August 16-October 1: focus on education and recruitment on each campus
  • October 2–16: intensify recruitment, finalize logistics, rehearsals, training
  • October 17: Convergence!! (proposed date)

Yours Truly,

xx yy, Harvard Student Divest

Jim Recht, Harvard Faculty Divest

Bob Massie (?), Harvard Alumni Divest

Eric Grunebaum, Harvard Alumni Divest

Sabine von Mering (?), Brandeis Faculty Divest

[Seek at least 1 or 2 co-signers from each participating institution:

– student leaders

– faculty leaders

– alumni leaders]