Skip to content

Call for Stories: #PowerToLive

drawing by Max Airborne of themself with #DisabilityJustice activist Stacey Park, smiling & happy after getting ice cream. Red words say “we need power to live.”
Drawing by Max Airborne of themself with #DisabilityJustice activist Stacey Park, smiling & happy after getting ice cream. Red words say “we need power to live.”

The Disability Justice Culture Club, a house of disabled Black, Indigenous, and People of Color in the San Francisco Bay Area, invites anyone impacted by the PG&E shutoffs and wildfires to share stories. Feel free to post an image or text about your experiences with the hashtags #PowerToLive and #PSPS (Power Safety Power Shutoff) on any platform you like such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.

For more about the Disability Justice Culture Club:

By Stacey Milbern of the Disability Justice Culture Club:

Disabled queer and trans people band-aiding infrastructure for community is NOT romantic. It is not #ActivistGoals. It means the system is failing. It means inaction and disregard are leaving people in harm’s way. It means only those connected to our networks or finding resources themselves are getting what they need.

It’s ironic for me to be in a disaster coordination type role because my own apocalypse plan has always been to lay in bed and die. The idea of trying to stay alive in a world even more hostile, and even more inaccessible, is so overwhelming. But climate crisis work and emergency planning work for those most impacted is what needs doing right now. It is a critical intervention that governments, PG&E, and other institutions don’t seem to be taking on. For disabled communities, not doing emergency mutual aid planning means people die or wind up institutionalized. Even if I don’t always think my own living is worth fighting for, I love disabled people too much to be complicit. That’s often how this stuff works, I think. We fight for each other. We go down swinging.

Nondisabled friends: Ask those in power what they are doing for those most vulnerable in climate crises and hold them accountable. (If BART runs this week, will elevators be up too? Are there shelters where people can power up? If the air quality gets dangerous, are there places people can go to be safe? Are the places fragrance free, wheelchair accessible, open past 5 pm?) Check on your friends and neighbors, even the ones you don’t know — especially the ones you don’t know — and build relationships for emergencies. Organize your friends to be ready to deploy support. Skill up together and cross train, even the stuff you really don’t want to learn.

Please do not leave it to disabled people to keep ourselves alive.

If you need SUPPORT, contact us at

If you have RESOURCES, contact us at


From Stacey on 11/6/19 and via the Disability Justice Culture Club page:

Really disappointed this week that PG&E wouldn’t reimburse batteries and hotel vouchers we bought for people dependent on #powertolive in emergencies last week, let alone even match donations raised online. PG&E is the culprit for so much of this gigantic climate problem but don’t even seem phased by how many people get impacted in power shut offs or smoke. Their disregard for disabled people is repulsive. It’s simultaneously mind blowing and yet so sadly typical and expected.

Institutions position disabled people in a role to gloss over harm all the time. Don’t let people tell you PG&E as a utility system can be rehabilitated. Don’t let them lull you into the fantasy that community can work with them to establish protocol to solve this. Don’t buy the lie that there were no needs last month…we served 32 families just with volunteers. Demand fundamental change now.

Folks who have been working deeply on climate issues are fighting for utility justice in California, including looking at democratizing PG&E so the executives who sparked fires and shut off power for a million people without a plan aren’t able to continue putting shareholder profits over people’s lives and the land. Advocates are saying there may be enough public and governmental momentum to create a shift right now. Fingers crossed.

What else is going on while people are galvanizing for a fight? PG&E is using their relationship with disability nonprofits to deflect responsibility and to create legitimacy when there is reason for none. This strategy is straight out of a PR handbook. PG&E having contracts with local nonprofits doesn’t change that the utility is fundamentally broken and unable to meet the needs of the community. (How is 10 batteries going to serve 1750 homes dependent on power to live anyways? 🤔)

It is common for institutions to use the safety of disabled people and seniors as a reason to gloss over harmful practices. (Just look at past denial of overtime pay protection for domestic workers, support for police expansion, and destruction of curbside communities in the name of sidewalk accessibility as a few examples of access washing.) Be VIGILANT. We can’t let PG&E use our people as a weapon in their arsenal. They win when we are single issue in our politics and not working across movements. They win when we are not in alignment with each other. This is so much more than batteries.


You can also Venmo stacey-milbern or or PayPal to buy solar generators, batteries, hotel rooms, and rides for disabled people. A small group of people will track the funds and make consensus decisions where the money goes. They raised $3,580 so far.

For More

Fat Lib Ink

Mask Oakland

Sunrise Movement

Beyond Inconvenience: #PGEshutoff

Remarks by Stacey Milbern at Light up the Blackouts: A Vigil and Community Gathering -Oakland (October 10, 2019)


Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: