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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.