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Monday, December 8, 2014

Learning the Jails

I've never had much experience with jails. I was briefly introduced to a holding cell in Washington D.C.'s Anacostia police station in March of this year after refusing to move from the White House sidewalk while protesting the KXL Pipeline. I stood in there for ten minutes with five other female college students before I was processed and released.

However, I now find myself quickly becoming familiarized with the procedures and expectations of Schuyler, Chemung, and Yates County Jails as the We Are Seneca Lake civil disobedience campaign continues into December.

Friday, November 28, 2014

My First Vegan Thanksgiving

*The following was originally a letter to Sean, one of the amazing people on the Climate March who influenced me to become vegan. I realized after I finished the letter that it was great blog material. Enjoy!

Dear Sean,

Well, I did it. I survived my first family Thanksgiving as a vegan. Sometimes it was annoying. There were lots of head-smacking moments. But, overall, I found the experience to be rewarding.

Just for fun, I wanted to share the ridiculous moments with you. I think I'm going to keep an ongoing record of these. Some of them are just too good to be true.

1. (A few days before Thanksgiving)
Grandma: "I have no idea how to cook vegan!"
Neither do I. I've been using this thing called the world wide web to help. 

2. Grandpa: "Why did you go vegan? I don't understand."
Me: "I decided I didn't want to exploit animals anymore."
Grandpa: *shakes head and laughs* "People gotta eat, Faith."
That's funny. I haven't stopped eating. 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Risky Business

"There it is," Doug announced as we pulled into the rail yard.

I wondered how many people drive by and mistake it for a snow drift. Some parts of the pile were even stained brown, much like how snow drifts get dirty as the winter goes on.

Large, fluffy flakes were falling from the pale grey sky. Although the snow wasn't sticking yet, the gravel that Doug's tires crunched over was already dusted in a layer of white. It was sand that coated the ground, much sharper and finer than the lovely puffs of water crystals descending from the heavens.

Doug pulled closer so I could take a picture. My phone clicked and the shutter closed, capturing the evidence.

"I can't believe it's just sitting out here in the open," I muttered. Doug pointed across the road.

"That's our city's premier family park. When the wind kicks up it blows over there."

As we fell silent again, I could feel the tension building. We were trespassing, after all. Our ruse of being lost tourists would only last so long. A freight truck had pulled into the rail yard ahead of us, and the driver must have noticed us by now.

It was now or never.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Obama, did you hear us knocking?

If you received word that there was a group of people walking 3,000 miles across the United States, and their end destination was your house, would you take the time to greet them when they arrived? If one of these cross-country adventurers wrote you a letter every day of this journey, describing to you in detail the lands she traveled through and the beautiful stories of the hundreds of people she met, would you write back to her?

Friday, October 31, 2014

When all else fails

When I was in Ohio and I called my dad to tell him I was coming home from the Climate March early, I was in a state of both sadness and disbelief. I couldn't believe that Houston-based Crestwood Midstream had received federal approval to store methane in salt caverns along Seneca Lake, my home, and I did not want to leave my March family. He assured me I was doing the right thing.

"You'll still be fighting the same fight."

Seneca Lake

I know he's right, but it's hard to believe that it is the same fight. The type of work and the mood of the situation here at home is entirely different from the Climate March. The March is addressing the broader issue of climate change, which encompasses gas storage on Seneca Lake along with hundreds of other projects around the country and the world. Our primary activity is walking and experiencing our world and the stories of the people living in it. It is our responsibility to bring the concerns, questions, hopes, dreams and prayers of the American citizenry to President Obama's doorstep.  We live in community, and we are constantly surrounded by love and friendship.

Back here in Upstate New York, the story is much different. Although I am making many new friends (none of them my age) and finding a place in a new community of inspiring people, the tone is more focused and serious. While the Climate March is mostly an awareness-raising, mind-awakening crusade across the country, the fight to save Seneca Lake is exactly that; a fight. A battle. We are waging a weaponless war.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

My Mom is Bartender — Social Stigmas & Climate Change

With a heavy heart, on October 10th I left the Climate March on the same day it crossed into Pennsylvania, and I returned home to New York. Recently, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved Texas-based company Crestwood Midstream's proposal to store methane in old salt caverns along the Western shore of Seneca Lake. This, I had told myself, would be the one situation that would draw me away from finishing the Climate March early. So, here I am.

I soon discovered that I was not only returning home to a lake in crisis, but also a mother in crisis.

My mom and I during her visit to the Climate March in Ohio

Two nights ago my heart was broken as my mom broke down in tears and sobbed in a panicky voice about the outside pressures she was feeling in her life.

Friday, October 3, 2014

First Amendment Rights Don’t Come First


The day after the largest climate march in history flooded the streets of New York City, a group of 3,000 impassioned citizens flooded Broadway outside the entrance of Wall Street, and a little over 100 of them were arrested after a long day of occupation. Five of the people arrested were my fellow Climate Marchers. 
Here are Marchers Sean Glenn and Mack McDonald, two of the five arrested

Marcher Kelsey Juliana carrying Simon, 6, on her shoulders during Flood Wall Street

Monday, September 29, 2014

Our Car-Centered Society


The 1986 Great Peace March for Global Nuclear Disarmament, which was also a cross-country march seeking to change the world, lost one marcher to a vehicular collision. The Great March for Climate Action has gone for seven months without incident, but that awesome track record came to an end on Friday, Sept. 26. While walking along Route 65 out of Maumee and toward Toledo, a pick-up truck operated by a sleeping driver struck me head on. Unlike the unfortunate Peace Marcher in 1986, I can live to tell the tale.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Letter to the Future

During my time on the Climate March I have come to realize that the climate crisis is more dire than I could have ever imagined. The reality of the situation has affected me very deeply and has begun to lead me down paths I didn't even know existed. Since this transformation in my thinking about the future has been very personal, I thought it would be more appropriate to share this in a letter rather than a typically-formatted blog post. The following is an excerpt from a letter I wrote to Chris, the Climate March's Colorado State Coordinator and my companion, while on the bus from Montpelier, Ohio to New York City.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Pushing My Weight


A response to the Climate March I hear a lot is, "Isn't it hypocritical to say you're walking to fight climate change while you're using all of those gas-guzzling vehicles?"

Yes, you caught us. The Climate March is not fossil-fuel free. We have a gear truck, a kitchen truck, a truck to haul our Eco-Commodes and several personal vehicles. We rely heavily on these vehicles to make it through our days, and attempts to reduce our number of vehicles are often stymied due to the wide variety of needs from our diverse community.

In response to people being skeptical of the March because of our vehicle use, I'd like to quote two of my fellow Marchers. During one of our emotionally-intense group meetings about our fossil-fuel usage, Jeffrey Czerweic pointed out that it takes fossil fuels to produce wind turbines and solar panels. My fellow marcher Mack McDonald often cites the following statistic: if every single American started living a truly sustainable lifestyle tomorrow, it would only cut about 20 percent of our emissions. The other 80 percent comes from industry and corporations.

It's true; we need to drastically cut our carbon emissions if we have any hope of even a bearable future on this planet. While it is important to make changes in our own lives, it is even more important to tackle industry, consumerist capitalism and wasteful individualism. Currently, our daily lives and the resources we use and think we 'need' encourage this system, and one way we can bring down the giant is to remove our monetary support from it.

That's why, inspired by my fellow marcher Kelsey Erickson, who has been carrying her own gear in a cart or a backpack for most of the March, I decided to start using a cart in Nebraska and I am still going strong now.

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Fruits of Our Labor — Crossing the proposed KXL route

Q: What is the Keystone XL Pipeline?
A: The Keystone XL Pipeline, or KXL, is a proposed 1,179 mile pipeline from a Canadian company called TransCanada. It would carry crude tar sands oil from extraction sites in Alberta, Canada to Steele City, Neb., where it would connect with the southern section of the pipeline to run to refineries in Texas. Tar sands is dirtier than other crude oils and emits more carbon dioxide in its lifetime. Not to mention, if spilled, it is nearly impossible to clean up due to its heavy, sticky nature, especially in water. Because it crosses an international border, the pipeline requires presidential approval.

Q: When the KXL project was first proposed in 2008, it was considered a 'done deal.' Why hasn't it passed yet? 
A: Activists and concerned citizens.

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)!

****

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

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Two Practice Walks

As I walk across the country in the Great March for Climate Action I will be blogging about my adventures here on Viridorari and also for my school's newspaper (http://theithacan.org/blog/one-step-at-a-time/). Also, follow me on Twitter and Instagram for smaller updates and pictures! My Twitter handle is @viridorari and my Instagram username is bluegirl3666

If this is the first time you've heard of the Climate March, please check out www.climatemarch.org for lots of useful information. The Climate March is a cross country march from California to Washington, D.C. to raise awareness about change. It began on March 1st in Wilmington, CA and will conclude on November 1st in our nation's capital. After finishing my spring semester of college, I am joining the Climate March in Taos, New Mexico and walking the remaining 2,000 miles to Washington, D.C. The approximately 300 people who have signed up to participate, either for the whole thing or for sections, will walk at a pace of about 15 miles each day.

While I did some small hikes at State Parks during the spring semester, I only managed to get two full practice walks in before leaving, each 15 miles. It was a LOT harder than I expected it to be. By the end of each walk my feet were on fire and everything from my hips down were horribly sore. I should have gotten more practice walks in before leaving, but I had only about a week and half between coming home from college and my plane to New Mexico, and that's not a lot of time to tie all your loose ends down for six months!

For my practice walks, I used the Erie Canal Trail and walked from Macedon to Fairport and back. For my first walk, my boyfriend, Bruno, joined me.


Saturday, April 26, 2014

Climate March Update #5: SUCCESS!


Hey everyone, great news! The money I raised from t-shirt orders has completed my fundraising, and now I have actually over-raised money!

If you are still interested in supporting the cause, there are many other marchers who still have not reached their goal, some of which are marching right now! If you could help them out instead of me, all of us from the Climate March would be very grateful. We don't want anyone to have to drop out because they didn't have the funds. 

Here are some marchers who are still in need. All of those listed below are currently marching AND they are going the whole distance, from LA to DC! So, they have to raise at least $5,000.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Climate March Update #4

Fantastic news: I am 83% of the way to my goal! I am only $63 away from the $3,800 mark — the cost of my marching expenses. After that, the remaining $700 will go toward my plane ticket, equipment, and emergency expenditures while I'm on the march.

Please, once I have reached the $3,800 mark, do not give any more donations on my fundraising site. Donations given online go directly to the Climate March, so you would be overpaying them. 

You can find my fundraising site, which lists all my donors and a progress bar, here.

More great news: The Climate March had a very successful start in Wilmington, CA on March 1st. Over 1,000 people turned out to the rally! The marchers have recently left California and entered Arizona, and the next big rally will be in Phoenix, AZ on April 7th. The mayor of Tucson, AZ has declared April 8th as Climate Action Day in honor the Climate March. I cannot wait to join the march in Taos, New Mexico on May 25th! 

Sponsors
I would like to recognize and thank all of my awesome sponsors. A special thanks to Heron Hill Winery on Seneca Lake for a very generous $10/day sponsorship! Click on the names in the list to check out their websites.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Letter to Gov. Cuomo — LPG Facilities on Seneca Lake

I grew up in the Finger Lakes Region in Geneva, which is at the north end of Seneca Lake. A company called Crestwood (formerly Inergy) has proposed an expansion of liquefied petroleum gas storage in the old salt mines on the Western shore of the lake near Watkins Glen (on the south end of the lake).

Not only are these facilities incredibly dangerous, with potential for leaks and explosions, but Crestwood has plans to transform my home into the "gas storage and transportation hub [of] the Northeast," threatening the health of our tourism and wine industries, which are deeply intertwined. The last time I checked, open brine pits, a flame stack, noise pollution, and increased truck and train traffic are not appealing to the tourists that our region relies upon so much.

Furthermore, this project would only provide 8–10 permanent jobs (not for locals), whereas Hazlitt 1852 vineyards alone employs about 60 people (keep in mind this is one of our many wineries on Seneca Lake).

Over my spring break, I attended a public forum organized by Gas Free Seneca about this issue in Watkins Glen called "Seneca in the Balance" on March 11th. At this forum, local businesspeople, scientists, legal experts, health experts, local officials, and activists all spoke, and every one of them, despite their varying backgrounds and ideologies, agreed that this project would be terrible for Seneca Lake and the 100,000+ who rely upon it for drinking water.

At the forum, pre-written letters to send to Governor Cuomo were distributed for attendees to sign and return to be sent in. I filled out one of these letters, but I wanted to write a more personal one that told my story as a lifetime resident of the Finger Lakes Region. I have sent in that second letter, and I wanted to share it with you hear.

After the letter I will include information on how you can help this cause and learn more about it.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Comment sent to Secretary of State John Kerry

The following is a comment I submitted to John Kerry, who will be advising President Obama on his decision about Keystone XL. I wrote this shortly after I returned home from D.C. I was sending out a pre-written message to Secretary Kerry through an activist organization, and there was an option to add in my own words. I ended up writing a small letter while the inspiration from XL Dissent was still coursing through me.

The deadline for the final comment period on KXL was March 7th. According to 350.org, over 2 million people submitted comments opposing KXL, outnumbering supporters 2 to 1.

I wanted to share my message to John Kerry with you. Here it is:

Monday, March 10, 2014

Arrested for the First Time at XL Dissent

 “Protest beyond the law is not a departure from democracy; it is absolutely essential to it.”
― Howard Zinn

** This blog post and my action of civil disobedience are dedicated to the amazing people who took the first steps in a very long walk on March 1st in the Great March for Climate Action. Good luck to all of you and I can't wait to join you in New Mexico in May. The next time I will be in Washington, D.C. will be in November after walking 2,000 miles to get there. www.climatemarch.org If you are interested in helping me on my cross-country journey, email me at viridorari@yahoo.com. You can donate online at anytime here.   

**This also happens to be my 100th post on Viridorari :) I also recently reached 10,000 views. Thank you everyone! 

It felt like a dream as I pulled up to the quaint house tucked away in a lovely neighborhood in Columbia, Maryland. A little over a half a year earlier I had pulled out of that same driveway and began a long six hour drive home by myself, saddened by the idea that I might never see my new friends again. But here I was, showing up at four in the morning with little more than a week's notice with two fellow travelers peering with sleepy eyes out the windshield at the front door of the house.  

I turned off the car and we gathered our things. As we approached the front door Ron opened it for us. We had called them a half an hour ago at their request so that they could be awake to greet us at this ungodly hour. I gave Ron a huge hug, and I would have given RoseMarie one too, but she politely declined because she was sick and didn't want me to catch whatever she had. I introduced them to Katharine and Bill, who originally got in touch with me over an online ride board.

RoseMarie quickly transformed into super-host, showing us to our rooms, providing us with snacks she had prepared specially for our arrival, and asking us what we wanted for breakfast in the morning. She had even put out three different colored sets of towels in the bathroom, one for each of us to choose from. Ron gave us maps and pamphlets to help with navigating the city. Katharine gave me an astonished look that said: "Wow, you weren't kidding when you said they were amazing!"

After driving for a little over five hours straight after a full day of class and work, the guest bed felt like a cloud. But I couldn't fall asleep for almost another half hour; I was too excited. When I woke up in just a few hours I would be heading into Washington, D.C. to be arrested in a peaceful protest.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

XL Dissent: Are You Doing Enough?

Hey all, the following is a post I wrote for the XL Dissent website — xldissent.org. XL Dissent is a student/youth led event that is happening this Sunday, March 2nd, in Washington, D.C. So far, over 1,000 youth are expected to come to the event, and about 300 of us (including myself) will be risking arrest by staging a sit-in in front of the White House. This is to protest the Keystone XL Pipeline.

Bill McKibben, a leading environmentalist, being arrested for protesting the KXL Pipeline in front of the White House using civil disobedience (2011). 

This may be the first time I will be arrested for the cause, but I don't expect it to be my last. I will be dedicating this action to my friends in the Great March for Climate Action, who will begin their amazing journey from California on Saturday, March 1st. Learn more about the cross-country walk at climatemarch.org

If you like the post I wrote, be sure to go to the website and browse the posts written by other participants.

Here it is, let me know what you think in the comments:


XL Dissent: Are You Doing Enough?

August 12th, 2013 was the first time I risked arrest — it was to protest the Keystone XL Pipeline. I left at four in the morning and drove about six hours to Maryland, just outside of D.C., and pulled into a total stranger’s driveway. I sat on the trunk of my car, waiting for him to get home from church, hoping the neighbors wouldn’t get alarmed and call the police in the meantime. Although the idea of lodging with people who I had never met in person was initially a little nerve racking, the kind couple that took me in turned out to be two of the most amazing people I had ever met. My hosts were just one of many incredible parts of that unforgettable weekend.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Climate March Update #3

Hi everyone! I have lots of exciting news with this update!

With only 41 days left to go before the march starts, it's crunch time! I'm so excited for the people who are starting in California, and I wish I could be there with them as they take their first steps. May 23rd cannot come soon enough!

The Climate March recently received a donation of $20,000 to go toward a food truck. That is half of the cost, and the march is currently looking for an organization or business to sponsor the other half. If you know an organization or business that might be interested, please email Zach Heffernen, the Marcher Director, at zach@climatemarch.org.

As for me, I have reached 25% of my fundraising goal! I owe a very special thank you to an anonymous donor who gave $500 to my cause. Your generosity is above and beyond and if you're reading this, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. You can view a running list of my donors on my CrowdRise fundraising page

I have also received two more gold sponsorships! One comes from the Ithaca Hemp Company in Ithaca, NY, near my college. Ithaca Hemp Company carries lots of awesome hemp products, including clothing. Hemp is one of the most versatile and sustainable materials out there, and can be used to make over 25,000 products! Unfortunately, hemp gets a bad rep because of its close relation to cannabis — or marijuana — and currently it is illegal to grow hemp in the United States. To learn more about hemp and all of its awesome benefits, check out this past Viridorari post. To learn more about Ithaca Hemp Company and all of their epic products, check out their website. Thank you, Ithaca Hemp Company, for becoming the first business to sponsor my march!

The second gold sponsorship comes from the Palmyra-Macedon Rotary Club. This sponsorship is very special to me because I have been involved with Interact and Rotary throughout my high school career. Interact, the high school version of Rotary, inspired a love of community service in me and taught me invaluable lessons about leadership. I have learned so much about myself through Interact, and I look forward to becoming a Rotary member someday. I am staying involved and participating in my college's Rotaract Club. It means the world to me that an organization that has influenced me so profoundly has made a generous contribution to my march — which I'm sure will be a life-changing experience that will develop me even further. Thank you, Palmyra-Macedon Rotary Club, for becoming the first organization to sponsor my march!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

State of the State Ban Fracking Rally


On January 8th, I traveled to Albany on a bus with other New Yorkers from Buffalo and Rochester. We protested hydraulic fracturing and demanded a statewide ban at Governor Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State Address.
            There were people there protesting/advocating for other things, such as the NY S.A.F.E. Act and medical marijuana. However, the anti-frackers definitely had the greatest attendance, with the final count coming to over 2,000 people! Our chanting definitely drowned out all other simultaneous protests. As we gathered in the hallway in front of the Convention Center, the police had to keep extending the protesting area farther and farther down the hall to accommodate all of us.
Me and my sign

 An awesome little girl standing up for New York

            There were lots of awesome signs, and I saw a group of people from Gas Free Seneca protesting. It really warmed my heart to see them there and spreading the news about what’s happening with our lake. To learn more about Seneca Lake and the potential danger of liquefied petroleum gas storage, go to gasfreeseneca.com.
This was probably the best sign I saw. It was beautifully painted!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Climate March Update #2

Hello readers! I have another fundraising update for you.

I have received my first gold and silver sponsorships! Ron and RoseMarie, who participated in the Keystone XL sit-in with me over the summer, are my first silver sponsors. My grandmother, Cindy, is my first gold sponsor. Thank you so much for your generous contributions to my cause!

A silver sponsor donates 50 cents for each day I march, or $81, and a gold sponsor donates $1 for each day I march, or $162. If you're interested in becoming a sponsor, email me at viridorari@yahoo.com. You can donate to my cause directly any time at http://www.crowdrise.com/FaithMeckleyTaosNM-DC

Thank you to friends and family who donated to my cause instead of getting me a physical present this Christmas! My dad is donating by taking me out to buy equipment I will need for my march. Thanks, Dad!



So far, I have sold 22 bracelets! Help me get rid of the other 178. They cost $2. If you're interested in buying one, or you know a business that might be willing to sell them at their check-out counters, email me and let me know!
My dad wearing his Climate March bracelet
Picture courtesy of: Me

I have received a couple of orders for items out of the Nature's Vision fundraising catalog. Give the catalog a looksie here and email me if you'd like to order anything.

I am currently working on writing out sponsorship request letters to companies. I hope to send them out within the next week! If you know a company or own a company that might be interested in sponsoring me, email me and let me know. 

Remember, if you want to receive postcards as I walk across the country, email me and let me know. There is a suggested $15 donation to cover the costs of your cards and postage. Please keep this donation separate from any other donations you make, and DO NOT donate your postcard money onto my Crowdrise site.

Thank you everyone who has supported me and who will support me! Have a very happy New Year! If you're looking for ways to be greener in the New Year, check out this post.

The Green Resolution

I've never really been one to have a New Year's resolution. I've always seen it as something that people promise to do and then give up after a week or two of commitment. Also, I don't think we should wait for a new year to make much needed changes in our lives. I believe a resolution or a promise for change can happen at any time, when it's needed most. But, if you are inspired and committed to having a resolution this year, this post is for you!

For those of you who want to have a serious resolution but haven't thought of one, there's a change that's needed desperately right now. The human race needs to have a resolution to reduce our negative impacts on the planet and increase our sustainable habits. Instead of buying an expensive gym membership that you'll only use for a week, make a commitment to living a greener lifestyle for 2014.

Going green can help you be healthier too: physically, mentally, and spiritually. And, an awesome thing about going green is that for many initiatives, it won't cost you any money or it will save you money!  

There are lots of money saving, free, and cheap things you can do to be more sustainable, and I will try to list as many as I can think of here. Feel free to add more in the comments if I miss anything!