Be joyful even though you have considered all the facts...practice resurrection. -Wendell Berry

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Guest post from Gretta::People's Climate March

You know you're going to hang out with a lot of hippies when you get on a subway packed with paper mache suns, the smell of incense, and a lot of outdoor gear brands. Ben and I started the journey to 72nd and Central Park West, taking the G train to the C train. The C was already pretty full in Brooklyn, and it became absolutely packed as we headed north through Manhattan. Finally we emerged from the eau de activist into very busy streets. I was wearing a camp tee shirt, and almost immediately, a gangly teen hopped down from clamoring in some scaffolding to say he had been a camper too.
I knew that lots of people I know and love were filling city blocks nearby, but as it neared 11:30 and the start of the march, the area got more and more packed. It became pretty impossible to find anyone. Even so, it was pretty cool to know that I was sharing this experience with high school friends, college friends, work colleagues, friends from studying abroad in Australia, camp folks, and my best 4-year-old friend. (Later on, Ben and I waved to a little camper from the summer as we passed, and the kid's mom shouted with glee, "IT'S NATURE BEN!")
Ben and I ended up marching in the front of the "Solutions" section. Upon arrival they must have sensed our strength, because we were immediately asked if we wanted to carry flags. We marched right behind the big section banner that read "WE HAVE THE SOLUTIONS." Our section didn't get moving until nearly 1:00, but it was fun to wait in anticipation and chat with the people around us. We also we able to participate in the moment of silence, which ended as we heard the roar of the crowd ripple back to us down several blocks. It was pretty amazing.
We finally started moving, making our way through Manhattan. By Columbus Circle, we got to see jumbo screens showing people matching around the world. We headed into Times Square, lined with tourists and those who were simply too tired to continue. When we marched towards the end, we got the preliminary numbers: 310,000 people! We were reaching the end around 4:30, and there were still 15 blocks of people marching behind us!
Afterwards we went to Penn Station for Taco Bell. I think part of it was the pushy vegan contingent in front of us. (I don't disagree with veganism, but this particular group's insistence that I wasn't a real environmentalist because I ate meat really irked me.  I spent 4 years studying the environment and I teach children how to be sustainable citizens. It takes all kinds.)
Take aways: Whatever happens at the climate summit, 400,000 people came together that day. There is such complexity in the movement. I saw kids, fusion scientists, PETA activists, drag queens, yogis, priests, college students, and people who had been at the March on Washington. People working locally, nationally, and internationally. People who care. And yes, we made a mess. There are lots of pictures around of the trash left behind. To which I say: So it's a problem for Manhattanites to have trash on their stoop? Wow, that must be rough. Perhaps they should take a trip to the trash heaps in Jersey. But something really powerful happened. Whether it comes to policy or not, I definitely felt reenergized!

P.S. I had my 5th graders write a paragraph about what they would say to the UN Climate Summit if they had the chance. They had some pretty powerful ideas. Of course, none were perfect, but kids totally want to come up with solutions. It's inspiring!

Gretta, 23, teaches 5th grade science and works in the office of an independent school in Brooklyn, NY.


  1. Sounds like a very worthwhile day marching for a very important cause. Karen, your adult children must make you and Peter very proud (I know they do) and I'm so inspired by their commitment to making this world a better place for all of us.

  2. Thanks for taking us along on the march through your description! I had several friends go, but I stayed home. It's wonderful to read about your commitment and dedication (boo on those particular grumpy vegans!)