Viridorari is an environmentally focused blog. The mission of Viridorari is to help you incorporate healthier, "greener" habits into your life, to benefit you, the people around you, and the environment.

I am walking in the Climate March from New Mexico to Washington D.C.! Stay tuned to Viridorari to read about my adventures! Also follow bluegirl3666 and climatemarch on Instagram for picture updates. Check out www.climatemarch.org

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Saturday, August 23, 2014

Double the Trouble

As I marched my way across the gorgeous state of Colorado, I couldn't get over the mountains, the wide open spaces, the crazy rock formations, the gentle forests and the big blue sky. At that time, I was still settling into March life and was perpetually amazed by the kind and welcoming spirits of my fellow Marchers. I noticed something else too; I couldn't stop thinking about how much my friend Rob Lister would love the Climate March.

One night as we camped in the San Isabel National Forest — which remains to be one of my favorite campsites so far — I sat down beside a bubbling stream near our campsite, dipped my feet into the cool water and wrote Rob a letter. I described to him the beauty of Colorado, the physical challenge of walking 15 to 20 miles each day and the incredible new family I had acquired in the Marchers. I ended the letter by begging him to come out and see it for himself.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Crossing Over — Colorado to Nebraska

Note: This post has been in the works for far to long. It should have gone up long ago, and I apologize that it hasn't. I am currently focusing most to all of my time on the Climate March and my responsibilities here. Keeping the March going logistically, financially, and successfully takes a lot of work, and we only have about thirty to forty people to spread it between at any given time. I am re-committing myself to catching up on my blog, and I hope you'll bear with me as I work to catch you up from Nebraska to now (Iowa)!

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Today I am writing from a gas station in Benkelman, NE, during our second day of walking through Nebraska. Yesterday, our crossing from Colorado into Nebraska (which also happened to be the Climate March's halfway point) was absolutely magical, and the day only got better from there.

Our last full day in Colorado ended in an unforgettable sunset, and we all gathered around to sing our sunset song, which goes like this:

Golden sun going down
Gentle blue giant spin us around
All through the night
Safe till the morning light
This pretty planet spinning through space
Your garden, your harbor, your holy place
(repeat)


 Singing our song

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A Vow of Silence


A marcher named Sean took a vow of silence at the start of the march. Her original intention was to march the entire 3,000 miles, from LA to DC, in complete silence. She recently ended her silence early, as she needed a change in energy, but she and another silent marcher, Mack, asked the marching community to take shifts with silence. The purpose of constantly having someone silent on the march is so we can represent those who have no voice in this issue.

It is my turn to carry this torch. Ben just finished his 10 day silence, and in his place I will be silent for a week (at least that’s what I’m thinking now). Earlier in the march, before I was here, the marchers organized a week of actions that anyone around the world could participate in to show solidarity with the Cowboy and Indian Alliance. The Alliance camped out in D.C. for about a week to demand climate action. One of the daily actions was a day of silence, which I partook in. I really enjoyed it, and all of my friends were impressed, but it was really hard and I slipped up a few times.

Despite the difficulty of the task, I was particularly inspired to do this after yesterday’s march, in which we witnessed a concentrated animal feeding operation. We walked by another one today. 

They are overcrowded, do not have much space to move in, and are standing in deep mud and manure.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Come What May

As we are now entering summer in the Midwest, the Climate March is preparing to deal with major storms, including tornadoes. Last night after walking about 16 miles we arrived at our camp — the beautiful Riverside Park in Fort Morgan, Colorado. It seemed like a small paradise, with lots of trees and a pond and a swimming pool with showers. But not long after dinner our little paradise turned into chaos.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

America the Beautiful


Yesterday, I caught a glimpse of what it takes to power the American way of life. I think, judging by this sign we encountered, you can tell it wasn’t pretty.
We did a poor job of following the sign's instructions. Sorry not sorry.

During our first day out of Denver, a 15.5 mile trip to Prairie View High School, we passed through Suncor Energy and the industrial park in which it is housed. Suncor’s name is deceiving; it actually has nothing to do with sunlight. Suncor is a tar sands oil refining company, the same stuff that would be pumped through the KXL Pipeline if built, and the same stuff that is destroying Alberta, Canada via the extraction process.

When we arrived at Suncor’s main office building, 4.8 miles into our walk, we staged a small performance. We were all wearing surgical masks over our faces, and my fellow marcher, Berenice, started to cough. Saying that she couldn’t breathe, she went to take her mask off, and everyone yelled:

“No, Berenice, no! The air is polluted! Keep your mask on!”

But she took it off and coughed harder, and then collapsed to the ground and “died.” Someone held a sign over her that said “Suncor-pse,” and we all grieved around her. This all took place on the lawn in front of Suncor’s company sign.

We carried Berenice to the cemetery across the street and laid her to rest in front of a tombstone, and I gave eulogy for her.

“Here lies Berenice Tompkins, dead from pollution from tar sands oil refineries like Suncor. She breathed the air and it killed her. What world are we living in where we have no clean air? Let Berenice’s death be a reminder to all of us of those who have been silenced, sickened, and killed by air pollution, and other forms of pollution that come from the oil and gas industry. Rest in peace, Berenice, you beautiful martyr.”

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Colorado Springs

On June 10th we had a very successful rally in Colorado Springs with over 150 people in attendance. Some are saying that it's the best rally we've had so far. Since I haven't been here the whole time, I can't really speak to that, but I can say it was pretty damn awesome!


Marcher Marie with a young local activist! 

 Jerry with a Climate March banner!
Just before the rally started, I got my first care package from home! Thanks Mom!

 The Climate Justice Gypsy Band performing at the rally

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Faces and Stories

In Fort Garland, Colorado, we had a stay day and camped for two nights across the street from the old fort, which is now a museum. On the second day locals came to visit us at the museum, and we spoke to each other and watched a documentary together.

That day I gave a speech (which you can view here), and afterward many people approached me individually and told me how much I had inspired them and how much my words had resonated with their own lives. I was deeply touched, and all I could say in response was how they were the inspiring ones, not me.

Fort Garland was my first one-on-one interaction with locals along the route since starting my journey in Taos, NM. In my speech, which was unplanned, I told them about what was happening at my own home with the threat of dangerous gas storage looming over my lake. After telling my story, I made a promise I had not expected to make — I told the people of Fort Garland that just as I had given them my story, I would take their stories and carry them with me as I walked. Their stories have renewed my passion, and I want to share some of them here.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Pushing it to the Limits


On the walk, we have a few personal vehicles, which are used as “sag wagons” or “blister buses.” They provide support for the marchers throughout the day of walking, either by giving them water or gear. If someone can’t go any further, they get in one of the sag wagons, and if the vehicle fills up the carful of people are driven to camp to be dropped off.

There are some people on the march who are called spirit walkers. This means they walk every single step of the march that they signed up for. Got blisters? Doesn’t matter, walk on them. Break a toe? Well, here’s a pair of crutches. Keep going. 

Mack, a spirit walker, broke his toe a while back, but that doesn't stop him.

While I wasn’t necessarily sure if “spirit walking” was what I wanted to call it, I had ambitions to walk every step of my path, from Taos to D.C., as well. I have quickly discovered that this is easier said than done, and I have a long way to go in developing both my physical and mental strength.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

First Day: Taos, May 24th


I can’t ever say enough about how incredible my first day was. It was raining all day, and the poor weather really tested me, but I’m proud to say I walked every step and I slept in my tent at the end of the day. Some marchers hitched rides and stayed elsewhere for the night — some in a dance studio with hot showers, others in a hotel if they could afford it — and I certainly didn’t blame them. It was a rough day and I was tempted to follow suit. But, I figured I signed up for all sorts of weather and I’m determined to stick it through, thick and thin. One of my goals while being on the march is to become closer to nature and embrace simple living, and despite getting a little cold in the middle of the night I don’t regret my decision to stay outside.

Despite the beautiful sunny morning on the 24th — my first official day — when Carol, my Taos host, and I left for the Taos visitor’s center it started to rain, and as I unloaded my things into one of our support vehicles at the center it started to hail! The marchers were just arriving when Carol and I got there, and we took shelter in the center for a while and let the hail pass. Before we set out for the local park, a Buddhist monk, Reverend Yusin Yamato, who has walked across the country three times carrying a prayer of peace, blessed all of us. He proceeded to walk with us the whole way beating a drum. 

Reverend Yusin Yamato

Picture courtesy of: CB Genrich

Walking through downtown Taos

Yesterday also happened to be a global day of action against Monsanto and genetically modified organisms, and the local demonstrators for that movement joined us in our walk. Some were dressed up as bees and corn. Most of the corn produced in the U.S. is genetically modified, and our precious bees are dying off from pesticides. 

A Monsanto protester dressed as a bee walking with us

We walked along a main road and lots of people honked at us. It was only two or three miles, but I was so energized that my body didn’t seem to feel any of it.

Everyone was really excited to see me. They had all seen my picture and followed along with my fundraising progress and they knew exactly who I was. The marchers have all been so kind and generous this first day and I’ve been doing my best to return it. Right now our numbers are around 35.

When we reached the park we were blessed by Lieutenant Governor Lawrence Lujan of the local Taos Native American pueblo, which is apparently very rare! A Native American woman from the Diné (Navaho) tribe, Patricia, also known as Woman Stands Shining, spoke next. She told us how people on pilgrimage journeys always bring rain with them. She said we are pilgrims, and that our walk is a prayer, so it’s no surprise we brought the rain. While it sucked walking in the weather, I wasn’t upset about it because I knew how much this drought-stricken area needed it. Being wet and cold was a small price to pay. 


Lieutenant Governor Lawrence Lujan giving us our blessing 

Woman Stands Shining speaking

Yamato, Lujan, and Woman Stands Shining closing the ceremony together

At the conclusion of the gathering I walked with a handful of others to the Buddhist ashram we are staying at for the weekend. The ashram, or temple, is gorgeous inside and out. There are gardens and statues and the building itself is traditional pueblo style. I can’t describe it well enough with my words, so I have a walk-through video of the temple for you to see for yourself. 


After I set up my tent and moved my things out of the vehicle, I went in for dinner — Indian style soup, rice, and cornbread — it was the perfect meal after a long day in the cold. 


We were expecting a rainstorm last night, so I prepared and put everything I wouldn’t need indoors and stashed everything else in my waterproof bag. This morning I was fortunate to wake up dry. Many of the people who didn’t sleep in tents last night had to do so because all of their equipment was soaked. When it was dropped off at the temple earlier in the day it wasn’t covered properly. I was one of the few who was lucky enough to have dry equipment. 

           
After I was all prepared for the night, I went into the temple’s prayer room and joined in on a few chants. A hand drum, tambourine, and melodeon were played. The chants were beautiful, as was the prayer room. It took me a while to relax, but when I closed my eyes and focused on the music I could feel it swirling all around me and it brought me great peace and actually helped with some of my back pain. 


 Benjamin, a marcher, dancing with a young girl in the prayer room

I’m glad to be staying here at the temple in Taos for another day. This town is lovely and the temple is such a peaceful, rejuvenating place. I am not eager to move on, yet I am so excited to see what comes next. 
video
 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Thank you sponsors!

I wanted to devote a post to thanking and promoting my amazing sponsors who made it possible for me to be in New Mexico right now, preparing to leave on my quest across the country to stimulate the change we need for our planet!

Gold Sponsors ($1 a day, or $162 +)

I owe a huge thanks to my most generous sponsor, John Ingle, the owner of Heron Hill Winery on Keuka Lake. John is passionate about protecting our beautiful home region, the Finger Lakes, which is currently under threat from incoming fracking and gas storage industries. (To learn more about these issues close to mine and John's hearts, check out www.gasfreeseneca.com)

Picture courtesy of: Erin Rafalowski