Day 122 – Halfway by John Abbe

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Climate March report #1

More than half-way to DC!

I am on a cross-country march – the Great March for Climate Action – along with many others, to inspire action on the climate crisis. You can also read Climate March report #0, which I wrote the day before the march started.

Somehow half of the march has gone by without me writing much about it. The march is nearly all-consuming of my attention, between the basic necessities of getting from point A to B – including setting up and breaking down a new home every day – and the constant conversations and experiments in how to make the most of our time with each other and of course the people we run into. I’m certain I can’t fully see the forest for the trees, and I suppose that reflects the climate crisis’ overall complexity.

We remain a small but impressively constant cast of characters, 2-3 dozen people who have been on the march most of the time from the start, with many others coming for shorter stretches. It’s heartening that most of them commit to rejoining us down the road. We are still on schedule to arrive in Washington, DC on November 1, and have passed through California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado. A few days ago we passed the halfway point as we marched into Nebraska. Some other upcoming dates:

On July 19, we will cross the Keystone XL pipeline proposed path and will work on the (renewable of course) Energy Barn that Bold Nebraska has built on the pipeline route. See the event details. August is for Iowa, and in early September, we will be in Chicago.

On September 18, we will take a break from the march (near Toledo, OH) to head to New York City for the People’s Climate March, which is September 20-21. This is likely to be the largest climate march in history, and will include a people’s summit on the climate crisis as well. Come join us and strategize with activists from around the country (and beyond), and put some pressure on world leaders coming to NYC to actually get something accomplished at the UN Climate Summit on September 23.

Personal experiences

My feet are fine. My back hurts, avoiding dehydration takes frequent attention, one hamstring is unhappy, and yesterday I found I’d developed a bad shin splint, but my feet are fine. Sometimes I even get bored with the routine of walking and go barefoot or walk facing backwards. I’m on my second pair of shoes (thank you again, Lorene!), and expect to wear them out and go through at least one more pair.

I’ve been pretty involved in camp conversations and process in general, often facilitating in meetings and even more often doing my usual ad hoc thing of listening to and reflecting people’s hopes and frustrations, and making connections as needed. After turning down nominations in our first round of elections (we have a mayor, a village council, and a judicial panel), I ran for and was elected to the council in the second term which began June 1, and am serving with fellow marchers Jerry Stewart and Jeffrey Czerwiec.

In every town we meet people who are interested to talk, whether they believe that human actions are behind the changing climate or not (few people are still denying that it is changing). We’ve gotten a lot of feedback about how our passing through has supported action, including inspiring a group in Claremont, California to start a chapter of Citizens Climate Lobby. In Taos, New Mexico, our passing through inspired local activists considerably and got a rare mention of climate change in the newspaper. In larger cities I regularly see local people making good connections with each other at our events. Marcher Mary DeCamp writes a letter to President Obama every day, which most of us sign before it gets mailed to DC. And conversation is ongoing about how to make the most of our time in November when we arrive in the Capitol.

One thing I am gaining is a greater visceral sense of how much world there is outside of urban centers, and how much our way of life – in urban centers and in general – depends on what is done by people in smaller communities, and how much rural struggle and suffering there is as a consequence. I knew this intellectually before, and have spent some time in rural areas before, but not this long, and not in this variety of it. Uranium mining, drought (and attendant convicts over water), economic hardship making people susceptible to manipulation, etc. It’s not all directly related to the climate crisis, but it all stems from the same broken relationships we have with each other and the rest of the natural world. I’m very glad that there is such a common understanding among the marchers of the deep roots of the problems we face, with the climate crisis being “only” the worst of the symptoms.

Videos and more

A news report from home in Eugene, Oregon before I left

Two others that people we’ve met have made:
From a church stay very early on
From a New Mexico videographer who came out with us

Our photo pool on Flickr

Other good places to follow what we’re up to:
Great March for Climate Action website
Facebook page
Facebook group (anyone can post)
Everyone’s blogs, twitter, etc.

p.s. Here we are entering Zuni lands in Arizona – the lighting was better on the “leaving” side of the sign :-)

Group photo entering Zuni lands

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