[By Brandon Cheshire, Phoenix, Arizona]
I have been provided the special opportunity to join this noble group of environmental justice fighters as they continue to embrace the beautiful Arizona landscape, on their Great March for Climate Action. I had the opportunity to learn of the march while attending a Climate Reality Leadership training in Chicago this past summer. I had been dealing with a tremendous amount of back pain and immobility due to an injury I suffered whilst installing a ground mounted solar array in Yuma, and almost immediately dismissed the idea of participating. With the assistance of some natural medicine, I became relieved of my health concerns, and just then Zach Heffernen, also from Climate Reality, reached out to me.
He asked if I knew of anyone in Arizona who might be qualified to take on the Arizona portion of coordinating the Climate March. In a very biased manner, I immediately recommended my brilliant wife Erica. She had just graduated with her BS in environmental sciences, and was eagerly looking to put it to good use. I was also jumping at the opportunity to be involved. I almost immediately signed up to march from Wickenburg through Phoenix, into Payson, AZ. My wife Erica was hired on by the March, and we were off and running. I am grateful to this fine group of people, who have sacrificed all their conveniences, to make a historic and symbolic stand for our future!
My unique perspective as the spouse of a coordinator, fellow short-term marcher, and corporate sponsor (SunHarvest Solar) has left me eager with anticipation, anxious over grumblings, dedicated to the cause, and inspired by the beauty of this loving community! I had a front row seat to all of the back room conversations, late night calls, emergency issues, conference calls, meetings with officials, rallying to acquire donations, setting up the Phoenix rally on the 7th, and the continued maintenance and support a traveling sustainable community requires. I will be honest, I have had my own doubts, and my own troubling concerns from others who may have shared differing viewpoints. I read some reports that upset me, and some that made me apprehensive about this commitment. I decided that it would be best to reserve any judgment or comment until I could experience the march, and the community, with my own eyes, and the work of my own hands and feet.
Granted, today is a rest day at Western Trails Ranch, and aside from the first day in Wilmington, I have only been with the March for 3 days. I have found them to be a very warm, courteous, and loving group of people. They are resilient, diverse, and passionate lovers of our earth, and of it’s inhabitant. They are continually trying to make progress, and strive for the success of this community. They have open meetings, democracy, restorative justice, education, outreach, and community participation and teamwork are common topics of discussion. I have eaten very well, the breakfasts and dinners are outstanding, nutritious, and hearty. I am looking forward to my first job today, we are getting a bus that was donated by a former Great Peach Marcher, and it is going to become our new kitchen truck! This will enable the March to cease using a rented U-haul truck, and gives another opportunity to spread the message of the March, Climate change is here, and we need action Now.
Brandon Cheshire is the founder and Director of Production of Arizona based SunHarvest Solar. Active volunteer with the Sierra Club, Public presenter for the Climate Reality Project, sits on the public policy committee at the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, and actively lobbies for environment and renewable energy causes in Arizona.