2007_04_arts_sop.pngThis Saturday a sea of people wearing all blue will flood the streets of lower Manhattan. This will happen because Sea of People have organized a rally partly in the form of human installation. Thousands of participants dressed in blue will stretch through the streets and become a visual for the projected 10-foot waterlines that may redefine lower Manhattan under the ten-foot sea level rise scenario.

If you would like to be a part of it, head to the rally at Castle Clinton at noon Saturday, here is a video letting you know more about what will take place. If you'd like to be a volunteer, there is a training session at Battery Park tonight from 6 to 8pm. Now, meet the organizers...

Name, Age, Organization/Occupation
Ben Jervey, 27, Freelance Writer/Enviropreneur
Jenn Su, 24, Events at Solar One
Chris Neidl, 29, Outreach Coordinator at Solar One
Margo Bettencourt, 25, Recent transplant

Tell us about Sea of People.
Sea of People is our local contribution to the April 14th Step It Up National Day of Climate Action. The whole campaign focuses on one goal: getting our national politicians to commit to serious action on climate change. Specifically, we're asking them to mandate an 80% reduction in American carbon emissions by 2050.

Here in NYC, we'll be having a massive rally down in Battery Park, with speakers from a diverse span of fields--youth, scientists, businessmen, politicians, pastors, activists--to breifly touch upon why this political action is urgent. After the rally, participants will stretch into a single line--a 'Sea of People'--along lower Manhattan's 10-foot elevation line, or the "future sea level" zone.

When did the idea for it come about?
The goal has always been to create an event on scale with NYC's size, influence and boundless creative vitality. In early January, Ben and a few other New Yorkers in the "green scene" got an email from the revered environmentalist and author Bill McKibben, who'd come up with the idea for the national campaign. We all got together, worked through a bunch of ideas, and this plan surfaced as the most striking and inspiring.

How many people are involved in organizing this event?
Lots. Every planning meeting we've had has been attended by at least 10, and some as many as 30. Throughout the whole organizational structure, I'd say we've got about 40 people who have committed some substantial amount of time to this cause. Besides the freewheelin' individuals, there are a handful of organizations that've spent much staff time and energy. Solar One deserves a special nod here, with two of the event's lead organizers essentially working nonstop on Sea of People. Other groups that've helped out enormously are NRDC, Transportation Alternatives, the Lower East Side Girls Club, and Code Pink

Have you had a good response so far, through RSVPs and volunteers at training sessions? How many people do you expect to show up?
We've got literally hundreds of volunteers signed up to help. (Hopefully they'll all show.) There's been some good media attention--particularly on the blog level--and the event seems to be striking a chord in people. If the weather's decent, we hope to get about 5,000 people downtown.

You have a lot of guests, such as Rev Billy, showing up for the rally...on what level will they be involved?
Rev Billy and his Church of Stop Shopping will be welcoming the masses to the rally in Battery Park, then singing us off as the line files north. We're also really excited to have Bill McKibben--he who created the whole Step It Up movement--joining us. He's a total pioneer in the global warming field, and we're proud that he'll be addressing the crowd.

Will you try to carry something like this out in other cities?
There are over 1,000 events planned around the country for April 14th. We've got nothing to do organizationally with those, but we'll be paying close attention through the Step It Up national site: www.stepitup2007.org.

Will you do more events like this in New York? If so, what will the focus be? Have you had any events like this in the past?
This is a first. This country hasn't yet had any real citizen movement or action around climate change, and the time is right. Hopefully we'll collectively, with events around the country, send a strong enough message to Congress--cut American carbom emissions 80% by 2050--that we won't need another. But when the presidential campaign is going strong next year, you can be sure there'll be lots of folks like us making sure the issue is on everyone's stump.

What do you think can be done through an event like this, that cannot be done through words?
For the past few months, article after article have been making a strong and unbiased case for political action on greenhouse gas emissions. We've yet to see Washington take it too seriously. We think that by engaging the voting public in a creative and visually powerful way, we'll be able to send a stronger message to our elected officials. There IS a public demand for legislative action. Now we'll have pictures to prove it.