Jane Fonda has a word for those who doubt the efficacy of celebrity activists: Poppycock.
Undeterred by stay-at-home restrictions intended to combat the coronavirus pandemic, she is pivoting from physical protests to virtual ones: She and Greenpeace will conduct their first virtual Fire Drill Friday tomorrow.
The climate change protest, an outgrowth of the series of Fire Drill Fridays demonstrations Fonda led in Washington, D.C., last year, will begin at 11 a.m. PT and spotlight youth-led activism leading up to the 50th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22.
“It was going to be one of the largest global demonstrations ever,” Fonda says of earlier Earth Day plans. “And of course everything’s changed now, and they’re figuring out what they can do in the age of shelter in place to heighten awareness of this terrible existential crisis that’s looming over us.”
Friday’s event is being conducted in partnership with #CAYouthVsBigOil State tour and the youth-led Sunrise Movement, with celebrities including Alyssa Milano, Norman Lear and Marisa Tomei encouraging participation via an Instagram video teaser.
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Join us on April 3rd for our monthly #FireDrillFriday rally: VIRTUAL edition! 🔥 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Check out this message from @ChelseaHandler, @theNormanLear, @AmberValletta, @PiperPerabo, @MarisaTomei, and @Milano_Alyssa, then take action with us. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Join us this Friday alongside @JaneFonda and @FireDrillFriday to keep the pressure on politicians to adopt a Green New Deal, end new fossil fuels, and enact a just transition to a renewable economy that protects workers and communities. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Let's tackle the climate crisis together while we #StayHome. We'll see you online! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ RSVP: click the link in our bio!
“We want some of the leading climate activists to talk about what they’re doing, what they’re planning and how the rest of us can help,” Fonda says.
The star activist, 82, contends that our current health crisis only shows the dire need for climate change action.
“We have to realize that the coronavirus, COVID-19, is not unrelated to the climate crisis,” says Fonda, who traces a host of environmental factors, including greater human contact with disease-bearing insects and animals, to the pandemic. “All of the major pandemics came from animals: AIDS, SARS, MERS, Ebola and now COVID-19.”
A big believer in partnering with experts, the two-time Oscar winner and current star of Netflix’s “Grace and Frankie” discussed these issues with Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Jack Shapiro, Greenpeace’s project lead for the Climate Leadership campaign, during an online teach-in last week. Experts were also a regular presence during Fire Drill Fridays in the nation’s capital, and later in the Los Angeles area, along with fellow bold-faced names, including Joaquin Phoenix.
“The combination of celebrity with seasoned organizers is a really good one, because they know what to do strategically, and I can be the megaphone to get the word out,” Fonda says.
When fellow celebrities attended Fire Drill Fridays, “sometimes they had expertise, but most of the time we had them introducing the experts and the frontline voices that people don’t usually hear.”
She’s also determined to do what she can to help prevent Congress from bailing out the fossil fuel industry in its stimulus bills. She believes the planet and democracy are both at stake.
“These bailout bills in Washington reflect who’s winning: if we let them do it the way they want, they’re going to win,” she says. “We have to fight and fight to make sure our side has enough so that we have enough in there so we can try and save democracy — it’s as dire as that.”