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Thursday, October 2, 2014

Littlewoods at the Climate March

The Berlin Wall came down. The USSR broke up. We elected an African-Amercan president. Wyoming wolves are (maybe) back on the federal endangered species list and safe(r) from state management by shooting. Surprises happen and some of them are Good Things. This is what I think about when I am overwhelmed by climate change.

We went to New York City for the big march. We showed up. Showing up is not much, but it's what we COULD do. Paid for carbon credits since we flew from Portland, Oregon. Had tee shirts made for us and the friends and relatives who joined us. And we had a great time.

The weather was warm and the air was fall-sparkly. The crowd was huge and cheerful. Police were scarce and relaxed. The signs and chants and giant balloons and musicians were all fun. And, as Naomi Klein pointed out at a reading last night, the crowd was reasonably diverse, not just a bunch of us glum environmentalists, not just white folks,  a mix of ages. You can't see much in a huge crowd, but sustainable agriculture and living-wage and many other groups were well represented. I met Peter Galvin, one of the founders of Center for Biological Diversity, and saw Kieran Suckling, another, as they accompanied Frostpaw the polar bear. Whoever was inside that costume suffered--it must have been HOT! But that bear sure got a lot of press.

And the next day, we did it again. The Flood Wall Street march was smaller and edgier, billed as an "arrestable event." We weren't up for arrest (maybe in our own town), but we marched and helped carry an enormous banner apparently targeting cameras in helicopters because no one on the ground could possibly read it. The giant "carbon bubble" balloon got stuck under a traffic light at one point and we all cheered when it got through. The march never actually got to Wall Street, which was well-barricaded. (Lots more police evident at this march.) It stalled near the New York Stock Exchange, alongside the big gold bull sculpture. Tellingly, there is no bear sculpture. The point of the march seemed to be that capitalism is the problem and prevents solutions to carbon pollution. The enormous sums the oil companies are making back that up. Naomi Klein said that energy companies spend $400,000 a day on lobbying Congress, contributing to the corruption and paralysis of our political system.

These marches are oddly tiring and we packed it in after three or four hours, but our daughter toughed it out. The police played a waiting game, and it was getting dark before they finally started arresting people. Hunger and a lack of portapotties had thinned the crowd to a hundred or so by then. You had to work at getting arrested--it was cold by that point. But our daughter managed it. She said the officer who zip-tied her hands muttered that a lot of them agreed with the march. From what I saw, the cops were tired, but calm and professional. She ended up in a cell with a mountaintop removal activist from West Virginia and emerged the next morning physically and emotionally unscathed. Whew! You never know in these situations. We want to help pay her fine, to ride her brave coat-tails.

After the marches, we took the train to Boston for our grandson's first birthday. The party was wonderful--the under-two set was well represented. The babies ate cupcakes, chased balloons, took toys away from either other, and splashed in ecstasy in three inches of water in an inflatable pool.

We can't afford not to hope.