[By Jennifer Jordan]
Late in 2013, I saw Mariam Kashia at a local environmental event. She was wearing a Great March for Climate Action t-shirt. I didn’t know her then, but I looked up the March when I got home that night and immediately decided that I wanted to do a portion of the journey. I talked it over with my wife, looked at the timeline and registered to walk for two weeks through Iowa and Illinois.
I’m not sure what so strongly compelled me to the march. Perhaps it simply a sense of wanting to learn more about the climate crisis and go camping for a couple of weeks. Perhaps it was a sense of the growing hopelessness I’ve felt over the past few years, a sense of needing to more but not knowing what to do. Perhaps it was exactly the call to action I was searching for after watching “Chasing Ice” and a handful of other documentaries that left me paralyzed. Even as an optimist who generally loves life, I was scared.
I joined the march in Iowa City on August 21. After taking a couple of days to transition from a “normal life” schedule to “marcher life,” I got in the groove of waking up super early, walking 15 or 17 miles a day and eating meals and snacks with a community instead of at my desk or in my car between meetings. I got in the groove of really listening to the Marchers discuss upcoming events, ideas and ideals. I relished the opportunity to just listen to the conversations and learn; I was a sponge for the Marchers’ knowledge about the Climate Crisis, organizing techniques and actions. The highlight of my time with the March, though, was the hours each day I spent walking with amazing people who were happy to share their knowledge and inspirational life stories.
I left the Great March for Climate Action on Saturday after 17 days and 240 miles with the soles worn bare on my new walking shoes. I left the march a different person. I am ready to take action…to be a better listener…to eat less meat and dairy and encourage others to do the same…to walk more and drive a LOT less…to build community…to be more politically active…to read more and learn more and share more. I am ready to be a involved in making real change.
There are less than two months left in the March but I encourage you to join for a day, a week, the rest of it. Meet the group in New York City in mid-September, or join up at the culmination week in DC in early November. It will change who you are and we all will need to change to address the coming Climate Crisis.