Protest and Citizen Action Movement Against Mracking (PACAMAN)

Yesterday my friends of Open SKeye Collective invited me to join their performance in El Puente community garden as a part of the Human Impact Institute’s 10 Days of Climate Action.  A few weeks earlier, I had a conversation with a new friend, Thomas Roueché about how easily we sign online petitions these days without having to apply much scrutiny to the long term effect of what they advocate … and – in fact – if we even remember all the petitions we sign or causes we lend support to?  The context of the invite, my discussion with Thomas, and an eye out to the work of Claire Fontaine all combined in the idea to create a new form of fracking (called mracking) that I would ask people to sign a petition against.  Most people I spoke with knew what fracking is and grimaced at the idea of a newer, more aggressive form of natural gas extraction.  After signing the open petition to both presidential candidates, I offered each signer a manifesto and logic model from the imaginary group Protest and Citizen Action Movement Against Mracking (PACAMAN) … these fliers carried a link back to the Mracking site at the bottom in the fine print.  The site is open for comments and feedback should anyone discern that mracking is a hoax and want to enter a discussion about my approach.  I spoke with 17 people.  I told the first person what I was doing because I needed to practice. She told me it was either a cool idea or I was a total jackass.  She suggested I use the name Walter, which I tried at first but then realized that I even wanted to approach people who already knew my first name to be Todd.  One person declined the flier with the explanation of mracking and another declined to give her email address but thanked me profusely and even offered to encircle the governor in protest with me (didn’t quite get that, but appreciated her enthusiasm).  The 17th person, knew I was not for real.  She played with me a bit and declined to sign her name.  Damn you, Karen!

Another reason I took the approach I did is because – in addition to the new petition culture – I think that words like fracking and nanotechnology remain somewhat coded.  They become almost zeitgeists … people may grimace at the thought of aggressive, phase-two fracking without actually knowing what hydraulic fracturing is.  The instant online petition or signing a live petitioner’s clipboard just to get him out of your face may lend to an important issue not receiving its due scrutiny.

PS, The Center for Urban Pedagogy has a literal, useful public service announcement in the subway stations on the effect of upstate fracking on NYC’s water supply. And, my friends at Shirari Industries made Frac Attack: Dawn of the Watershed, a short environmental zombie thriller.

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