Thursday, August 28, 2014


Busyness can get the better of us sometimes.  We go in too many directions at once to listen to the silence of life. The to-do list, the tyranny of the clock and calendar fill up the spaces in our minds that should be reserved for reflection. Sometimes when we open up the quiet spaces in our awareness, things that were just biding their time, waiting for notice, make their way upwards to the light.

I had such a quiet space a few weeks ago in Wilmington DE. I was there with no agenda, just accompanying Steve on a business trip. I wandered into the local bookstore with a quiet mind, listening to the spaces, looking at all the books. And there sat a new book by an author I have been a fan of ever since when, Bill McKibben

It was Oil and Honey: The Education of an Unlikely Activist, a reflection on his movement from quiet author, to international environmental activist. Bill has written and taught about his love for the earth for many years, but recently he realized it was time to use his body and his voice to bring his message to more people. He began with some of his students and began to organize marches against the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. This mobilization brought him to jail. Jail is something most people strive to avoid with all their being. The helplessness of being locked up is something no one looks for. Bill began to be arrested and detained for civil disobedience. Being jailed is a huge personal sacrifice to show the world how strongly one's belief is held. Luckily, he doesn't spend a lot of time there.

I've always joked that one of my life's goals is to avoid jail, so it is with sincere admiration that I watched Bill's last few years of organizing environmental leaders to do that very thing. I bought the book and dived into reading it. Bill's writing always makes me feel like I am sitting with him in his cozy Vermont kitchen telling me the story over a cup of tea. I feel close to him, even though I've never met him. He feels like my neighbor. We share a common church, and a love of the outdoors, especially the Champlain Valley.

So, I'm reading his book, thinking that I am the proverbial armchair environmentalist. I haven't joined a protest march since my daughter was a baby, more than 25 years ago. Sure, I write a check from time to time, but I have every excuse not to get my hands dirty. While I'm reading his book, I get an email from 350 about the People's Climate March.

This is an invitation to change everything.
In September, world leaders are coming to New York City for a UN summit on the climate crisis. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is urging governments to support an ambitious global agreement to dramatically reduce global warming pollution.

With our future on the line and the whole world watching, we’ll take a stand to bend the course of history. We’ll take to the streets to demand the world we know is within our reach: a world with an economy that works for people and the planet; a world safe from the ravages of climate change; a world with good jobs, clean air and water, and healthy communities.

To change everything, we need everyone on board.
Sunday, September 21 in New York City. Join us.

There's that link at the bottom: JOIN US.

It bubbled up out the space that had been open, listening for something. I looked at my calendar. My summer schedule of trips was winding down and I was still feeling restless. I need a trip to look forward to or I get mighty depressed. There was nothing on the calendar. I clicked.

Then I started thinking about the logistics. How was I going to get from Richmond VA to NYC? The whole point of this is to go with a group. How was I going to find a group? I have about 4 acquaintances in Richmond. I drilled down into the site and found they were planning to get busses from the major cities. That sounds like the right kind of transportation to me. I mean, it's already weird to think about a massive mobilization of people on a tiny island demonstrating about climate disruption. Aren't we just contributing to excess greenhouse gases by traveling there?

I put myself on a waiting list for a bus seat. There were no listings for any buses from Virginia at all. Then I found the Virginia page and an email address of an organizer in Richmond. I sent her a note about the bus. Would there be one? 

I'm out of my armchair now. I've spent the last three weeks attending meetings at the local Sierra Club office, walking miles and miles to put up posters in coffee shops and working on spreadsheets and mass mailings to local groups trying to recruit riders on the bus. We have a bus and it's getting full. 

Come Sept 21st, I'll be marching.