What happened when #ShellNo protestors went toe-to-toe with Big Oil in a daring standoff

Drilling for oil in the Arctic? Ohhhh #ShellNo!

The Arctic's icy Chukchi Sea. Photo by NASA HQ PHOTO/Flickr.


At least that's what Greenpeace USA and its supporters say.

Shell oil company recently got its hands on limited permits for preliminary drilling in the Arctic's Chukchi Sea, just west of the northern tip of Alaska, and was all set to get operations underway this week (despite plenty of warning that a devastating oil spill is all but inevitable if drilling occurs).

Until 13 activists got in the way. Literally.

Here's what happened.

Earlier this week, Shell deployed a 380-foot-long icebreaker called the MSV Fennica to the Arctic.

The Fennica is crucial to Shell's drilling operations in the way, way, way north because it carries a special spill containment system called a capping stack that has to be on hand before any drilling can begin (though the capping stack is far from a reliable solution).

After wrapping up some repairs at a Portland, Oregon, shipyard (Shell recently crashed the ship into an iceberg and ripped an enormous hole in the hull, d'oh!), the Fennica was all set to hit the open water.

The St. John's Bridge in Portland is all that stood between the MSV Fennica and a clear path to the Arctic. Image from Google Maps.

And then Greenpeace happened. Go, Greenpeace.

To physically block the Fennica's passage out into open water, Greenpeace activists suspended themselves from the St. John's Bridge.

Stop, hammock time! Photo by carissabee/Instagram used with permission.

Loafing around in a hammock isn't usually a good way to get things done, but this might be the exception.

Protestors dangled colorful hammocks from the bridge, secured by heavy-duty climbing equipment. Activists in kayaks (kayaktivists!) also joined in the fight on the surface of the water below, forming a human blockade.

The kayaktivists! Photo by Backbone Campaign/Flickr.

The protestors arrived around 2 a.m. on Wednesday, prepared for the long haul. Most brought food, water, and entertainment to last them a number of days, with Portland residents contributing even more rations and supplies to the cause.


At one point on Thursday, Shell's icebreaker was forced to turn back and return to port.

A temporary but significant victory.

The protests ended on Thursday night, but the activists' message was heard loud and clear.

Some activists "hanging" out. Photo by opiopanaxx/Instagram used with permission.

Greenpeace had to know they couldn't keep the Fennica at bay forever.

But with Shell planning layoffs, watching its profits tank, and desperate to get started on its Arctic drilling project, the oil company couldn't afford any delays. Which is why Annie Leonard, executive director of Greenpeace, told MSNBC, "Every second we stop Shell counts."

Thursday afternoon, a federal judge in Alaska ordered Greenpeace USA to pay a $2,500 fine every hour as long as protestors continued to impede the Fennica, with the fine set to increase every day. With hard-hitting fees heading their way and arrest threats looming, the Greenpeace activists were forced to pack it in.

The dramatic final moments of the protest. Photo by Twelvizm/Flickr.

But not before growing huge international awareness of the dangers of Arctic drilling.

Greenpeace says drilling in the Arctic could be catastrophic. And the experts agree.

The harsh conditions make it really difficult to access Arctic oil safely, or at all. Shell itself has poured more than $7 billion over the course of 10 years into trying to make this happen. Most of its competitors have given up for now.

Experts agree the risks are huge. One federal report recently estimated a 75% chance of at least one large oil spill over the life of Shell's 77-year drilling lease, which could absolutely devastate marine life in the Chukchi Sea and beyond.

A recent article in Time magazine also warned that drilling in the Arctic could release large amounts of methane and black carbon, two extremely potent greenhouse gasses. Black carbon is especially dangerous, as large buildups of the stuff collect solar energy at a rapid clip, warming the ice and water even faster.

The hammocks may have come down, but #ShellNo is still going strong.

This fight isn't over.


Greenpeace says the Obama administration has shown a willingness to change environmental policy based on public outcry, so they're encouraging people to continue amplifying the issues and voicing their displeasure.

Right now, the MSV Fennica is on a course for the Chukchi Sea. But after this incredible display of international concern, revoking Shell's drilling permits certainly isn't outside the realm of possibility.

Photo courtesy of Macy's
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Macy's and Girls Inc. believe that all girls deserve to be safe, supported, and valued. However, racial disparities continue to exist for young people when it comes to education levels, employment, and opportunities for growth. Add to that the gender divide, and it's clear to see why it's important for girls of color to have access to mentors who can equip them with the tools needed to navigate gender, economic, and social barriers.

Anissa Rivera is one of those mentors. Rivera is a recent Program Manager at the Long Island affiliate of Girls Inc., a nonprofit focusing on the holistic development of girls ages 5-18. The goal of the organization is to provide a safe space for girls to develop long-lasting mentoring relationships and build the skills, knowledge, and attitudes to thrive now and as adults.

Rivera spent years of her career working within the themes of self and community empowerment with young people — encouraging them to tap into their full potential. Her passion for youth development and female empowerment eventually led her to Girls Inc., where she served as an agent of positive change helping to inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold.

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Inspiring young women from all backgrounds is why Macy's has continued to partner with Girls Inc. for the second year in a row. The partnership will support mentoring programming that offers girls career readiness, college preparation, financial literacy, and more. Last year, Macy's raised over $1.3M for Girls Inc. in support of this program along with their Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) programming for more than 26,000 girls. Studies show that girls who participated are more likely than their peers to enjoy math and science, score higher on standardized math tests, and be more equipped for college and campus life.

Thanks to mentors like Rivera, girls across the country have the tools they need to excel in school and the confidence to change the world. With your help, we can give even more girls the opportunity to rise up. Throughout September 2021, customers can round up their in-store purchases or donate online to support Girls Inc. at Macys.com/MacysGives.

Who runs the world? Girls!

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Over the past six years, it feels like race relations have been on the decline in the U.S. We've lived through Donald Trump's appeals to America's racist underbelly. The nation has endured countless murders of unarmed Black people by police. We've also been bombarded with viral videos of people calling the police on people of color for simply going about their daily lives.

Earlier this year there was a series of incidents in which Asian-Americans were the targets of racist attacks inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Given all that we've seen in the past half-decade, it makes sense for many to believe that race relations in the U.S. are on the decline.

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Did you know that girls who are encouraged to discover and develop their strengths tend to be more likely to achieve their goals? It's true. The question, however, is how to encourage girls to develop self-confidence and grow up healthy, educated, and independent.

The answer lies in Girls Inc., a national nonprofit serving girls ages 5-18 in more than 350 cities across North America. Since first forming in 1864 to serve girls and young women who were experiencing upheaval in the aftermath of the Civil War, they've been on a mission to inspire girls to kick butt and step into leadership roles — today and in the future.

This is why Macy's has committed to partnering with Girls Inc. and making it easy to support their mission. In a national campaign running throughout September 2021, customers can round up their in-store purchases to the nearest dollar or donate online to support Girls Inc. and empower girls throughout the country.


Kaylin St. Victor, a senior at Brentwood High School in New York, is one of those girls. She became involved in the Long Island affiliate of Girls Inc. when she was in 9th grade, quickly becoming a role model for her peers.

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Within her first year in the organization, she bravely took on speaking opportunities and participated in several summer programs focused on advocacy, leadership, and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). "The women that I met each have a story that inspires me to become a better person than I was yesterday," said St. Victor. She credits her time at Girls Inc. with making her stronger and more comfortable in her own skin — confidence that directly translates to high achievement in education and the workforce.

In 2020, Macy's helped raise $1.3 million in support of their STEM and college and career readiness programming for more than 26,000 girls. In fact, according to a recent study, Girls Inc. girls are significantly more likely than their peers to enjoy math and science, to be interested in STEM careers, and to perform better on standardized math tests.

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