The Protester — Person of the Year


white house protests shot

by May Boeve

You know that activism has struck a chord with the public when TIME magazine picks it up. The TIME year-end feature story is always a strong conversation piece, and what a delight to learn that Bill McKibben has been named on the list of “People who mattered” in 2011, and that “the Protester” is the person of the year. Bill has been doing a lot more than mattering for a lot longer than 2011, but this praise is absolutely wonderful all the same.

It’s one tribute of many to the amazing organizing work taking place all over the planet, showing a path to transformative change. At, we live and breathe movement building, in all the forms it takes, and believe that people power can overcome the enormous obstacles we face in preserving a livable climate.

To me, what makes this year so special is the solidarity extended to protesters from people who don’t consider themselves activists. I remember the first time I learned the meaning of the word “activist,” when my mom showed it to me in the dictionary when I was ten. I’ve identified with it ever since, but this year, it seems, that word has taken on a whole new meaning to a LOT more people.

Here are some of the protests that most inspired me this year:

1. Students in Egypt rise up with courage to defeat military rule, confronting serious physical violence.
2. Public employees in Madison, Wisconsin, protest day after day against backwards plans by Governor Scott Walker
3. 1,253 people get arrested in front of the White House to urge President Obama to reject the Keystone XL pipeline.
4. Hundreds of thousands get on their feet and their bicycles for Moving Planet, and demonstrate that we CAN move the world beyond fossil fuels
5. A brave band of people occupy Zuccotti Park on September 17, and stick around for months as the public increasingly identifies with their message: we are the 99%!
6. 12,000 people encircle the White House and ultimately move the President to delay the pipeline permit.

  • As the calendar year comes to an end, it feels awfully sweet to look ahead to 2012 full of optimism. I think we’ve moved from the era of hoping for change…to the era of changing.

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