Jay O’Hara

Keynote Speaker

Jay O’Hara


Jay and TimQuaker Jay O’Hara (pictured here with Tim DeChristopher, one of last year’s Keynote Speakers) was one of two participants in the Lobsterboat Blockade of a coal freighter at Brayton Point power station in Massachusetts. He was arrested and in the weeks before the highly publicized trial, they convinced the prosecuting attorney of the sincerity of their convictions and the rightness of their actions. Their story is powerful and inspirational to all ages.

Jay and Ken Ward are the two climate activists who were arrested last year after they used their lobster boat to block a delivery of some 40,000 tons of coal to the Brayton Point Power Station in Somerset, Massachusetts. When the ship carrying the coal, named the Energy Enterprise, attempted to unload its cargo, it found a boat, named the Henry David T., in the way. Their boat was kept in place by a 200-pound anchor and displayed a banner with the hashtag #CoalIsStupid. Soon after Ward and O’Hara arrived, they called the police to report their direct action. They were arrested, but on the eve of their trial, in a surprise move, the District Attorney, Sam Sutter, dropped the criminal charges and reduced three other charges to civil offenses, calling climate change one of the gravest crises our planet has ever faced. The decision of DA Sutter’s office to not prosecute, based on the necessity of their action, reverberated around the world.

A video recording of Jay’s keynote speech is here



In a Huffington Post interview, Jay was asked how he arrived at the choices he’s made. He told the interviewer there’s something we all need to figure out. “When I sit by myself,” he said, “on a mountaintop, or next to the ocean, or in my living room, and I know that the world is such a way, and I know that the world needs to be such another way, am I able to live with myself and get up in the morning and act according to what I know is true? Have I done what needs to be done?”

Other Keynote Speakers

Robert Jensen

Shelley Alpern

Tre Cates