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Environmental Activists Push for a Grenelle Environment ...

Environmental Activists Push for a Grenelle Environment Round Table in Marseille

Polluted Marseille, congested Marseille, Marseille the concrete jungle. Ecological activists in the French city are calling out to elected officials. They have also called for citizens to protest and have used social media to send out web propaganda. The offensive has been launched! Ecologists are up in arms. Marseille is at the top of the

Polluted Marseille, congested Marseille, Marseille the concrete jungle. Ecological activists in the French city are calling out to elected officials. They have also called for citizens to protest and have used social media to send out web propaganda. The offensive has been launched!

Boulevard Baille in Marseille, France shows City's Congestion. The photo depicts a major street in Marseille that is filled with cars.  Cars have even attempted to park halfway up the sidewalk on the right side of the photo. A man attempts to cross the street in-between the parked cars.

Ecologists are up in arms. Marseille is at the top of the least honorable ranking of cities. " the sixth-most congested city in the world and the most congested commune in France ... It is total chaos," complains Victor-Hugo Espinosa, the president of Ecoforum, an environmental non-profit. He expresses his wish to organize a Grenelle Environment Round Table for the PACA region, specifically in Marseille.

Photo is of La Canebière, a large street in Marseille, France.  There are buildings lining the street on the left side of the photo. Crowds of people fill the sidewalk.  The right hand side shows parked cars and a tree next to the street. At the end of the street, in the middle of the photo, is a port.  The masts of boats stick up. A 17th century fort, Fort Saint Nicholas, occupies the middle of the background.

With his army of activists - his "casse-pieds," (pests) as he calls them - he plans on alerting the public about the situation. A series of testimonial videos will therefore be released on the website Dailymotion. A protest has been planned for Saturday, November 15th at 2pm. It will be held at the head of La Canebière (a large, historic street in the city). Victor-Hugo Espinosa elaborates: "Politicians have to call for a Grenelle Environment Round Table. But as they don't ever listen to anyone, we are going to be there to force them to take responsibility."

Putting a Stop to Real Estate Pressure

The "casse-pieds" are therefore sharing their complaints and propositions.

"Cars need to be kicked out of the downtown area. Why don't we construct parking lots on the outskirts of the city rather than right in the center?" expresses Espinosa, exasperated. According to the casse-pieds, it is necessary to reduce the high real estate pressure that interferes with the ability to construct logical traffic patterns and, even worse, takes away from green spaces. "In 15 years, there will no longer be even one square meter of cultivable land," Espinosa fears.

Already criticized for their lack of recycling, the citizens of Marseille are partially responsible for the city's problems in the activists' eyes. Espinosa laments: "Take Cours Lieutard, for example. Of the four lanes, two are taken up by anarchical double parking. Traffic jams are therefore a daily occurrence on this important axis of the city."

What will come of the casse-pieds' activism remains to be seen.

How should citizens react when the government does not address environmental issues in their city? What grassroots/guerrilla efforts have been made in your city? 

Original article, originally published in French, here.

Credits: Images and data linked to sources.

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Katelyn Hewett recently graduated from St. Olaf College in Minnesota with a Bachelor of Arts in English and French. During her time at St. Olaf, she enjoyed playing the French Horn in the St. Olaf Band, working as a teaching assistant for first-year...

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