A young person speaks into a megaphone, in front of other activists holding a banner that reads "Vanguard, which future will you choose?)

Vanguard, Which Future Will You Choose?

By sade nickels

Vanguard recently withdrew from its biggest climate commitment, the Net Zero Asset Managers initiative. EQAT showed up in action at a Vanguard office last week to remind company leadership of the real-life stakes of their decision. The choice to continue to invest in fossil fuels or transition to a clean energy economy shouldn’t be about politics or short-term profits; it’s a choice with long-term consequences for our lives and the people and places we love.

So, we went to Vanguard’s office in Newtown Square, PA. We arrived to the action in the late January rain  – cold enough to remind one of winter, but warm enough to fuel wonder and worry about the changing climate. We, a group of about 50, were greeted by cross-armed security personnel, a security vehicle, and a cop car. We arrived with song and prayer and peace, but were quickly ushered away from the entrance. After an unhurried walk and song across the parking lot, we gathered at a grassy triangle between the parking lot and the street. 

A line of people stand in front of a glass office building in wet weather. Some are wearing rain gear, and some hold signs that begin \
Photo by Kaytee Ray-Riek

The curb could not curb our enthusiasm. We spoke with each other and collected our grief, our worry, and our hope. We had the opportunity to line up and share aloud visions of the future we choose: “I choose a future with enough for everyone,” “I choose a future for all my relations – fish, winged, four-leggeds.” “Vanguard, which future will you choose?” we shouted back to the impersonal glass office building, and waited in silence for a reply.

I learned that EQAT’s members are committed. That a new, far-away location and uncomfortable weather isn’t enough to stop us from showing up how or where we are called to.

I learned that EQAT is nimble. As soon as we arrived, we were told to go. Yet, we moved together and stayed together in ways that felt both effective and safe.

I learned from Eve, our first speaker, that planning for the future can be painful. It is distressing to know that the choices Vanguard offers to help us “save for retirement” are keeping us on a path toward climate destruction. What is the point of saving money for the future when you feel like there is no future?

I learned that our chosen futures are beautiful and worth investing in. I too want to live in a future where there are more bikes and less cars. Where elders and children are cherished and cared for communally. Where there is clean water, clean air, and there is enough for everyone. A future that is biodiverse, where all species are cared for. A future that centers care and not greed.

I learned from Noa, our second speaker from Fridays for Future, that our youth are anxious and worried about their future on this planet. The horizon that looms in front of them, because of institutions like Vanguard, seems so bleak that they can’t picture starting a family or even surviving.

Vanguard, you can learn too. Stop, listen, and learn from those who are immediately impacted by your decisions to continue to invest in harmful industries. Stop, listen, and plan with those who divine a future where there is enough for everyone. 

Top photo by Vel Francis

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