Connecting the Dots: Vanguard's Toxic Investments

It was chilly and damp when we left the house for an action at Vanguard’s headquarters in Malvern. Having my wife Amy as company helped ease my nervousness that everything would go well. I had signed on as action lead only a few weeks before. The planning team had done most of the hard advance work and my role as action lead was like that of a director of a play, making sure that all the people played their roles and that the props, signs, and PA system functioned as intended. 


We Went to Tim Buckley’s Home and We Prayed for Him

In hope, in prayer, we find ourselves here
In hope, in prayer, we’re right here

Our voices rise in song, bright and strong as we walk two-by-two to Vanguard CEO Tim Buckley’s house. Led by action lead Carolyn and guided by marshals Barb, Lee, and Linda, we traverse under the train bridge, past apartment buildings, across Route 30 and into the leafy suburban neighborhood of Wayne, Pennsylvania. Our cherry-red “Vanguard Invests in Climate Destruction” t-shirts create a stark contrast against the greenery. There are about 50 of us, ranging in age from twenty something to seventy something, and representing a variety of faith traditions. We are a small and mighty group. Our song leader, Jo, keeps us pumping.


They Chose to Arrest Us Rather than Meet with Us

I woke up at 6am on Wednesday September 21st with my mind, as the old song says, stayed on freedom—freedom from fossil fuels that is.

In an action organized by EQAT, I and seven others planned to go to Vanguard’s Malvern headquarters and ask for a meeting with John Galloway, head of Vanguard’s stewardship team. After a year and a half of denied requests for meetings, EQAT was ready to ramp things up, and the eight of us were prepared to risk arrest if that’s what it took to get Vanguard’s attention.

civil disobedience at Vanguard headquarters 
Photo Rachael Warriner


Eight arrested, and more bold action going forward

This fall, EQAT and other members of the Vanguard S.O.S. campaign are taking action to challenge Vanguard on its stewardship hypocrisy, highlighting the ways the asset manager has failed to act on its own stated values.

Photo by Rachael Warriner


Campaign Partners, Near and Far

One of the many reasons that working on the Vanguard S.O.S. campaign keeps us feeling excited and empowered is that we know that we're doing this work alongside many partners, near and far.

Locally, EQAT had the privilege of collaborating with local land justice groups to offer a training on some of the roles that make a successful nonviolent direct action. While gathered under tall trees in a beautiful park in South Philadelphia, we focused on learning about four action roles: action lead, police liaison, marshal, and grounding anchor. It was a powerful training, with lots of roleplaying, discussion, and cross-group connection. 


Connecting and Training

EQAT's response to the heat. Credit Rachael Warriner.

I confess I was feeling pretty low recently. The combination of the heat and the complete failure of our government to deal with the climate crisis felt like too much to face. But I dragged myself to a Zoom call with other groups around Philly who are excited about training in nonviolent direct action. Then I got on another Zoom call with folks across the US working to get money out of fossil fuels. Both made me feel more connected and reminded me that our way of making change doesn’t rely on the whims of Washington. 


Stewardship is Active, Not Passive

What does the term "stewardship" mean to you? We discussed that during our recent general meeting, and here are a few things folks said:

  • A sacred task in the Biblical tradition, including care of the Earth.
  • Encompassing, long-term, sustainable care, so that something doesn't disappear and can thrive to its fullest.
  • Making sure you take care of resources sustainably and ethically.

In contrast, Vanguard's definition of stewardship is very narrow. Its continued investment in industries that are already destabilizing our climate--and therefore threatening our whole economy--show a real lack of long-term thinking. Its narrow focus only on the value of its shareholders' investments will ultimately hurt, not only the portfolios of those investors, but the web of life on which all of us depend.


Reflections on the Vanguard's Big Climate Problem Walk

Over the course of the five days and forty miles, 300 people joined us on the Vanguard's Big Climate Problem Walk. In the month since, we've been integrating what we learned on the walk and using that time together to energize us for the next chapter of the Vanguard S.O.S. campaign. We're happy to share the reflections of two of our walk participants, Marcelle and JJ, below.


Upcoming Celebration and Action!

The Vanguard’s Big Climate Problem Walk may be over, but getting Vanguard to solve its climate problem will be a marathon, not a sprint. That’s why we’ve been strategizing next steps, even as we rest and recover from the five-day walk. We are excited to share two upcoming opportunities to engage–a party and an action!


What a week it was!

The Vanguard’s Big Climate Problem Walk ended on Earth Day with a crowd of 150 people singing, “We are young and old together,” as 16 risked arrest to challenge Vanguard’s inaction on climate change. Some wore life preservers to symbolize the fact that some people have more protection than others from the effects of rising seas. Others prayerfully read about places where people are especially vulnerable to climate chaos. They highlighted places where people are fighting back against companies that Vanguard invests in: Chevron in the Amazon Rainforest, Exxon and Formosa in Louisiana, Enbridge in Ojibwe territory, to name just a few.