Shirley Galbraith of Houghton participates in the Sept. 21 People's Climate March in New York City. (Photos by Allan Baker for Keweenaw Now)
In September, 2014, a historic summit on climate change was about to take place. Not only were Heads of States from all over the world planning on being there, but also the global media. With our future on the line, concerned citizens and social activists decided to take a weekend before the anticipated summit, and use it to bend the course of history.
In New York City alone there was an unprecedented climate mobilization -- in size, beauty, and impact. It was estimated that there were between 3 and 4 hundred thousand who met at Columbus Circle and walked. Allan and I had decided to join the march though it meant a total of about 36 hours of travel time one way. Why? Because the older we get the more we worry about the future of our planet for our children and grandchildren.
Young and old march together -- many parents carrying kids on their shoulders -- during the Sept. 21 Climate March in New York City.
People chatted as we marched along. One woman commented that it was nice to be with like-minded people; another remarked that if the establishment keeps their heads in the sand much longer, our world is doomed. A little girl, about 8 years old, passed me at one point proudly displaying a sign that she and her Dad had made which said, "Children need clean air." I asked her why she was marching, and she said something to the effect that we need to let God know that our earth needs help and maybe he’s watching all these worried people and will tell the president to take care of the earth. She wasn’t exactly super coherent, but it was obvious that she was aware of why she and her Dad were in this march. Her brother, slightly younger, piped in something about puppies whereupon the girl explained that they have a cute puppy named Sam and they wanted to make sure that the animals would be safe too.
There was a lively group of seniors and "Grannies," some in wheel chairs or using canes.
A large number of LGBTs walked hand in hand along with Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Pagan, Unitarian, atheist and various other groups. I had situated myself with the faith groups though I could have joined any number of other categories.
According to Rabbi Arthur Waskow of Philadelphia's Shalom Center (in red, waving at front of ark), more than 10,000 members of Communities of Faith and Spirit joined the New York City Climate March. "We were led by an extraordinary Noah’s Ark, built by students of the Auburn Theological Seminary under the leadership of Isaac Luria," Waskow writes. "I was able to join the thirty people who actually rode aboard the Ark. From that vantage point I was able to see the ocean of humanity that was pouring out to heal the oceans, the rivers, the clouds and mountains, the air and earth, the many many species, that make up the interwoven ecosystems of our planet."**
The signs were creative, poignant, sad, funny, imaginative. There were some floats and people dressed in costumes, dresses, jeans and you name it. Everybody helped each other in a spirit of friendship and commonalities despite differences in beliefs. Allan took lots of pictures for our Keweenaw Now site.
So, here I am, doing my part!
* Guest author Shirley Galbraith is a resident of Houghton and a member of the Keweenaw Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. Shirley wrote this letter to her children and friends and shares it with Keweenaw Now. With her husband, Allan Baker, videographer and photographer for Keweenaw Now, she has also reported on climate marches against the Keystone Pipeline in Washington, D.C. Click here to see her story on the Feb. 13, 2013, Keystone protest.
** Rabbi Arthur Waskow has included Keweenaw Now in his emails since we published his article on the late Pete Seeger last January. He kept us posted on plans for the September Climate March. His comments here are taken from his Sept. 22, 2014, report on the March, "The Ocean of Humanity: 300,000+ call for Climate Action Now!" on theshalomcenter.org.
This is the first in a series of articles on the recent People's Climate March and related events. Watch for photos and videos, coming soon!