[by Kelsey Erickson, marcher from Carlisle, Massachusetts]
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.