CLIMATE MARCH: AN ODYSSEY OF SURVIVAL
From March 1, 2014 through November 1, 2014, Ed Fallon helped lead a core group of 35 climate activists on a 3,000-mile journey from Los Angeles, CA to Washington, DC. Ed walked every step of the way and is now traveling the country to share the experience and help empower people to take climate action NOW!
Ed’s presentation involves three parts:
1. Recounting the hardships, challenges and huge logistical obstacles of moving a large group of people on foot coast-to-coast. Across deserts and mountains, along busy highways, and through all types of dangerous weather, marchers faced grave difficulties week after week. Yet they also experienced natural beauty and human kindness in ways most Americans rarely encounter. Ed’s extensive, positive interactions with rural and conservative Americans leave him optimistic that America is moving closer to a political tipping point, where elected officials and business leaders will feel compelled to respond to the climate crisis.
2. Introducing the audience to some of the people marchers met along the way – people impacted by the climate crisis, and people creating more sustainable ways to live in the New Climate Era. Ed talks about farmers and Native peoples in New Mexico, whose very existence is threatened by drought – and by growing competition for water from urban and development interests. Ed talks about Nebraska farmers, whose crops and buildings were decimated by an unprecedented hailstorm stretching eight miles wide by 100 miles long – and that barely missed the March encampment. Ed also shares the stories of people living in fossil fuel “sacrifice zones” in Indiana, Pennsylvania and elsewhere.
3. Emphasizing the urgent need for climate action, Ed challenges the audience to get involved. If the audience is primarily people who are new to the climate conversation, Ed will encourage them to make changes in their personal lives, to lobby local and federal political and business leaders, and to become active in a local organization working on climate change. If the audience is composed mostly of activists, this portion of Ed’s presentation will look more like what is outlined under “MEETINGS,” below.
HOUSE CONCERT/HOUSE PARTY
Ed is a competent classical pianist, and will perform a 20- 30-minute mini-concert in a home with a grand or baby grand piano. (Minus the music, the event simply could be a house party.) The sponsoring organization would invite 20 – 50 people (depending upon the space available) who would each donate $25, $50, $100 or whatever the hosts feel is appropriate, with a goal of raising at least $1,500. The money raised would be split evenly between the local sponsoring organization and the Iowa non-profit sponsoring Ed’s visit. Ed would share the March’s story in this more intimate environment, leaving plenty of time for questions, comments and conversation. The house concert or party is also a good opportunity to share something light to eat and drink, ideally from local farms and producers, since localizing our economy is key to survival in the New Climate Era.
Throughout the afternoon prior to the house concert and presentation, Ed can be available to meet with activists, local politicians, or members of the media one-on-one or in small groups.
In meetings with activists, Ed draws on his 30 years of experience as a grassroots organizer and political leader in Iowa to offer guidance on how to best mobilize new allies and grow the climate movement. As an advocate of Gandhian non-violence, his focus is on using every strategy available, including political campaigns, referendum, education, marches, protests, fasting and civil disobedience.
Ed points out that organizing for social and political change is not as simple as many people believe. It is an important skill set that must be nurtured and developed. More often than not, campaigns fail because this is not understood. Ed cites two examples:
1. Many political campaigns (both candidate and issue) fail because participants haven’t grasped the mechanics of running an effective campaign. Clear messaging, fundraising, and building support from the ground up are all critical elements. (Ed has run 12 political or issue campaigns; nine of them have been successful.)
2. Many actions involving civil disobedience fail because participants are unable to choose a poignant symbol and convey a message that resonates and brings the general public into the conversation. Regardless of what strategies for climate action are embraced, there are excellent, time-tested resources available. One of Ed’s goals is to help connect local organizers with those resources, and he taps into his extensive study of Gandhian non-violence, including his fact-finding trip to India in 1995 to meet with modern Indians using Gandhi’s ideas to advance social justice and sustainability.
12:00 – Lunch meeting
1:00 – Meeting or media interview
2:00 – Meeting or media interview
3:00 – Walk, possible meeting while walking
4:30 – 6:00 – House Concert/House Party
6:15 – Supper, possible meeting
7:30 – 9:00 – Presentation
Ideally, the day’s activities can be scheduled in such a way and in locations where getting from one to the next is possible by walking or bicycling.
TRAVEL & EXPENSES
With house concert/house party hosts that are able to put some effort into the event, it should be possible to raise at least $1500. Half of that would go to support the work of the local sponsoring organization. The other half would go to the Des Moines-based non-profit sponsoring Ed’s trip, and to cover his expenses for travel, food and lodging. Ed likes to travel as simply as possible, ideally with a minimal carbon footprint. The goal is to schedule several presentations over the course of a week in one state or region, thus minimizing travel costs and time. Ed is happy to eat whatever simple fare is prepared, and is comfortable staying in the home of a local supporter.
Ed Fallon served as an Iowa state lawmaker for 14 years before running for Governor in 2006 and US Congress in 2008. Since 2009, he has hosted a talk show called the Fallon Forum which currently airs on three radio stations in Iowa. In March of 2013, he launched the Great March for Climate Action and is one of five marchers who walked every step of the way from Los Angeles, CA to Washington, DC.