On March 1, 2014, hundreds of Americans set out from Los Angeles, California to walk 3,000 miles across the country to Washington, D.C. to inspire action to resolve the climate crisis. Once completed, it will be one of the largest coast-to-coast marches in American history. These are some of the marcher's stories.
Braving the Apocalypse
by Kelsey Erickson, marcher from Carlisle, Massachusetts, March 1st
Reflecting back on the first day of the march makes the enormity of the journey ahead less foreboding. Our adventure started with a sunrise ceremony at the Wilmington Waterfront Park that was led by members of several first nation tribes. They had us dancing around in a circle as the dark sky yielded to the awakening of the sun. The ceremony left me feeling energized and reminded me of the preciousness of the Earth that we are defending.
After the ceremony we congregated in front of the stage with solar-powered speakers for the Climate March Kickoff that was organized in concert with So Cal Climate Action 350. It was at this event that I first heard that Los Angeles had placed a ban on fracking, which was hugely exciting. I cannot think of better news to motivate a group of climate marchers to start a 3,000 mile odyssey across the country.
The march itself was a true testament to our willpower.
We started off with hundreds of people marching with us on the streets of Wilmington. After we completed the first couple of miles of the march, some people left but a surprisingly large number of people continued on to walk the entire 17.5 mile trek with us to our destination. However the weather turned apocalyptic within a matter of minutes. Soon a torrential downpour was upon us, the first rainstorm to hit LA all year. Despite the heavy precipitation we persevered with high spirits. There were people trudging in saturated sneakers who still smiled and chanted the whole way. Seeing the support of these people made me so much more confident that we will be successful. One high school kid in particular motivated me immensely. He and a friend had been pulling a cart with a model polar bear on it. Eventually conditions got so bad that they had to ditch the cart to a support vehicle. However this kid did not give up the polar bear, instead he carried it by himself the remaining 10 miles. His admirable perseverance helped me overcome my own discomfort and made me wholly confident that we will succeed in our journey to Washington, D.C. and our message will resonate loud and clear to our nation’s citizens and political leaders: It is time to take action against climate change, now.
by Jerry Stewart from Aldie, Virginia, written March 10
The windmills outside Palm Springs beckoned to us this morning, their huge arms waving us onward. We spent the whole day walking with their company. The road ahead stretched into the desert. Seeing the marchers spreading out into the distance, chills ran down my spine. The sound of drumbeats from the Native American sunrise ceremony on the first morning of the march echoed in my ears. I imagined that each step I took was its own drumbeat, pounding in unison with those of the other marchers, creating a metaphorical rumble strong enough to shake this nation out of its slumber. I imagined that our footsteps could be felt in Washington, DC, very faint, but growing louder each day, with each step.
But first, we have to make it through the desert, and the desert is coming.
That’s what we’ve been talking about at our last few camp meetings. It will be a real test of our resiliency as a group, it has been said, and if we make it through we will be a stronger, more cohesive community, and carry with us into Phoenix the power and energy the desert has the capacity to generate in our hearts. After the desert, perhaps we will indeed have the potential to bring about the tipping point on climate action the world so desperately needs right now.
Reflecting on the day, I have no doubt that this group is powerful enough to accomplish the great task we have set before ourselves. I see it in a smiling glance or a kind face after a tough logistics discussion. I feel it in countless hugs we share each day. I hear it in the voices united in debate and discussion. I recognize it as we chant, or share a moment of renewed purpose and energy when we speak to people on the street and they respond in positive ways. I see it, also, in raised hands as we volunteer for the daily tasks of camp operation — our chefs, their prep cooks, the clean-up crew, the drivers, the trail scouts, the march sweeps, and everyone else who does countless tasks to make this march a success, some getting little sleep to make sure everything runs well. I’m truly in awe of everyone I’ve met.
The windmills waved us onward all day today.
It was as if they were telling us that we’re doing the right thing, that we’re marching in the right direction, and that our path is true and good.
At one point, Marie and I stopped and looked around, baffled by the beauty of everything we could see. The massive blades humming through the air against the backdrop of a light blue sky, a snow-capped mountain, a reddening earth.
Looking ahead of me down the road, turning around to look back, seeing each marcher trek forward, a word leapt into my mind — fearless. We are a fearless group marching to the beat of a special tune, a tune that is more human than the one we’ve been conditioned to walk to. We are creating this new tune as we go along. Its seeds will emerge with us from the desert, and when we converge with the people in Phoenix, I’m sure this new, fresh energy will be palpable in the air.
Originally published on climatemarch.org