This past Tuesday the Supporter Care team and a handful of Frontline staffers were fortunate enough to represent Greenpeace at the U2 concert in Washington, DC. Greenpeace’s history with U2 goes aways back, from U2 partaking in an anti-nuclear action with our UK counterparts in the early 90′s to a stop aboard the Rainbow Warrior II. If you look inside an older U2 cd, you will see a tear-out to join Greenpeace. Believe it or not, some still trickle in with the mail.
That afternoon the thirteen of us piled into the van headed for FedEx stadium to meet with volunteers from Amnesty International, One (Bono’s own), and Free Burma. After a quick run down of our do’s and don’ts: no stickering concert goers and meet back at 8:30 or else, we set off to canvass the grounds. Our goal: gather 900 signatures to show our government leaders they have grassroots support for strong, ambitious, science-based climate legislation in Copenhagen. This early in the afternoon though the only people there were back in the gravel lot where the van was or rushing to claim their space in the general admission line.
Not wanting to trek right back over the stream and through the woods, quite literally, I positioned myself near the general admission line ready to catch someone on their way to pick up their holy wristbands. The first young man I stopped enthusiastically signed the petition but asked no questions, instead I found myself asking him questions about U2. He said, “This is my 29th U2 show, I’ve been following them around the states.” Yes, you read that correctly, twenty-nineth U2 show. I can not even wrap my mind around seeing a show twenty-nine times! I quickly realized while these people would spare a second to sign the petition, they could not physically spare another second to talk about climate legislation. I wondered if such die-hard Greenpeace fans existed somewhere out there in the parking lots..
Josef and I figured we would try our luck back in the gray lot where we had parked the van. We tried our luck with a few tailgaters, got a few signatures, before spotting a couple enjoying some good eats and the afternoon sun by a bright yellow VW bug. As we approached with clipboards outstretched and our respective Greenpeace shirts on, I opened our pitch, “Hi! We’re with Greenpeace..” but was quickly cut off, “Oh! Greenpeace! How awesome!” Had we met our equivalent of the die-hard U2 fan? Yes! Yes, we had! We talked about climate legislation, told them about the Greenpeace Organizing Term their freshman college daughter may be interested in, who wouldn’t be?! An action-packed semester of organizing, non-violence training, and traveling to see first-hand areas of devastation! I passed along my contact information for their daughter and we wished them a good time at the concert. Riding high from meeting this couple from the DC suburbs, Josef and I headed back to the stadium ready for the show itself.
By the time 8:30 rolled around, we were being briefed on our part during the show. We, all forty or so of us, were going to walk out on stage with U2 during “Walk On”, the tribute song to pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Excitedly we were led down to the inner circle, the best seats in the house, and sang along through “It’s a Beautiful Day”, and the other songs that have brought U2 international acclaim the past two decades. Finally, it was our time. Mixed inbetween volunteers from One and the other organizations we were handed our masks of Aung San Suu Kyi, currently under house arrest in Burma. Bono began “Walk On” and with that we filed out one by one to the front of the raised platform. There we stood in our respective t-shirts holding our masks in unity looking out over a crowd of nearly 90,000. I honestly do not remember hearing Bono sing, I simply remember looking down from the bottom of the mask and eyeing a sea of people and feeling an incredible, unexplainable calm. We were sharing the stage with U2 and looking out over the same crowd. I thought, “How many of these people did we talk to today? Does anyone out there think, ‘Hey! I talked to that Greenpeacer earlier!’”
Despite our exhaustion the following day, we all retold our stories from the U2 show, from meeting truly cool people and talking about Greenpeace to canvassing for food in the parking lots before the gates opened, to being a part of “Walk On” and showing our solidarity. It was a day none of us will forget and that was only made possible by Bono’s generosity and belief in Greenpeace’s campaigns.
I have attached a video of “Walk On” from the DC show, but there are other videos available on YouTube capturing the quiet..