Marching to Build Community

Dear Climate March Friends,

(Note: For those of you who receive my weekly talk-show update, much of what I am about to share may sound familiar.)

Beyond any impact next year’s March will have on the climate crisis itself, eight months of communal living could have a profound effect on marchers. Our life-style will provide a stark contrast to the isolation that tends to characterize life in America today.

Isolation is not only accepted as normal and natural, it is institutionalized. Whether in an office cubicle, private vehicle, well-secured residence or in front of a screen, most of us are physically (and spiritually) cut-off from each other most of the time. The day itself is isolated into specific units, rejecting the natural glide of the hours from morning to afternoon into evening through night.

I remember being at a party in Ireland years ago. After hours of conversation, music and drinking at the pub, two dozen of us wandered off to someone’s home. We sat around the room, in a circle, close together, gradually unwinding, saying little, singing softly, where only an hour earlier we belted out fierce songs of freedom and rebellion in a crowded, smoke-filled pub, straining our voices to be heard, straining our ears to hear. It was as if our bodies and spirits knew you couldn’t end the night with a rousing chorus of “The Rising of the Moon.” You couldn’t raise your final pint to the sky, curse the British, and call it a day. No, the cycle of the hours demanded a spiraling down of energy, energy that desired to descend even as it had risen – in the camaraderie of like-minded souls.

That’s not something one does alone in a car, hotel room, or in front of a screen, but together, in a communal setting, where individual and collective dreams, fears and aspirations find voice and reassurance that they are not alone in the universe. That is where the cathartic closure of the day’s cycle finds a satisfying conclusion.

Sure, we all want and need some space, some privacy. But when older homes with big front porches are replaced by suburban boxes with big front garages and a deck in back surrounded by a privacy fence, it is clear that we are no longer designing a world where our connectivity with others is a high priority. We are designing a world built on fear.

The rhythm of life is most meaningful and wholesome when shared with one’s family, one’s tribe, one’s village. Next year’s March creates a migratory village, a fantastic experiment in how to live well with others, how to compromise, how to set aside differences to achieve a common goal. I am eager to see what we can do to transform our world, our individual lives and our sense of community.

Ed Fallon