A Week of Climate Action

Below is a little log of some of my experiences the week of 9-15 to 9-21-2014 – from hopping on board the People’s Climate Train to joining the People’s Climate March on Sunday. For a more detailed account of these events, please also see Thanissara’s blog posts for this week. She was also on the train, at the NY Insight events and at the March…

Monday: Emeryville station. Boarding the People’s Climate Train (c/o The Center for Biological Diversity’s Valerie Love and friends) with friends and comrades Bing Gong, Thanissara, and Ayya’s Santussika and Santacitta (Ayya Santacitta said just call us “Sister Santu” and “Sister Santa”) along with 125 or so others. A warm and cheery rally with friends sending us off (James, Wes, Betsy, Natasha, Louise, Walt all there) on the 3000 mile journey east. Once on board settling in, with a full day of workshops starting with “Bay Area Refinery Resistance & Healing.” Passed through smokey Sierras, greeted by a climate rally in Reno, lucky to squeeze into the top bunk of a little berth (most people were in coach) at the end of the day.

Tuesday: Woke up a little late for the 7am meditation and when I got to the observatory, couldn’t bring myself to close my eyes on the beautiful Utah landscape in early morning sun. Organizer Lauren Wood boarded the train in Utah. She pointed out the window and said an hour’s drive north a Canadian company called US Oil Sands had been exploring potential for tar sands mining. (Background Article). She also relayed inspiring stories of civil disobedience throughout the state, from a gathering of a hundred activists, to small acts of disobedience in remote areas in opposition to the tar sands exploration…Later in the day I heard Citizens Climate Lobby’s Tony Sirna explain the “revenue neutral carbon tax” and Craig Dunkerly presented on Money in Politics: the Biggest Obstacle to Dealing with Climate Change. Both are issues I want to follow up on when i get home. At sunset, a rally in Denver.

Wednesday: John Pappan boarded the train in Nebraska shared his experinces (“Indigenous Resistance to Keysone XL”) as a part of the “Cowboy and Indian” alliance, also part of the citizen coalition “Bold Nebraska” that has so successfully and uncannily stopped the Keystone Pipeline’s development (for now). I didn’t hear the presentation because the small space we had for gathering only allowed for about 25 people. But I have read and appreciated Mary Pipher’s account of Nebraska’s climate movement in her 2013 book The Green Boat which I highly reccommend. In Chicago we disembarked from the Zephyr and I followed my “berth-mate” Bing Gong (West Marin climate and sustainability organizer, KWMR “Post Carbon Radio” host, International Forum on Globalization board member and Qigong teacher to name a few of his hats) into the city during the few hours break between trains.

Thursday: At a divestment meet-up was impressed that in the group of 20 or so gathered there were several who had participated in successful fossil fuel (or coal) divestment campaigns including: Stanford University, University of Wisconsin, City of Berkeley, Unitarian Universalists. Also impressed by Pennie Opal Plant (Idle No More) & Shannon Biggs (Global Exchange) presentation on Rights Of Nature. Another one to follow up on when I get home…Over tea and hot chocolate with with Sisters Santacitta and Sakntussika I signed a pledge put out by The Climate Mobilization. This pledge seems to be a work in progress still, but definitely an approach worth considering. Only three hours late, the train pulled into Penn Station in NYC at 9:30pm. After the three and a half days of learning, connecting, bonding, I plunged into a warm city night, lights, and traffic and eventually a bed in lower Manhattan.

Friday: Mostly a day of rest, it started well when I left the hotel in search of coffee and was delighted to find the New School for Social Research (famous progressive/lefty college) had stenciled to their glass door entrance: “Climate Action Week” with a twitter link for the schedule. Friday night Wes (Scoop) Nisker entertained a gathering at New York Insight with his wonderful show “How to Be an Earthling.”

Saturday: Meetings. Buddhists collected again at NY Insight from 10-1 which started with a little silence and ended with rousing songs shared by Climate Trainers. Thanissara led the gathering that included the Ayyas Santacitta and Santussika, Bikkhu Bodhi, Wes and David Loy. Dropped by a divestment meeting and ended the day at an event featuring Mary Robinson, Bill McKibben, Lester Brown and others, titled “A Global Climate Treaty: Why the US Must Lead.”

Sunday: Incredible. Packed, dropped luggage at Penn Station, wended my way up 8th Ave. about 25 blocks to find the Buddhists collected at 58th St. So many people! Originally were were told we might start marching at 11:30. Then it was 12:30. Then it was 1:30. More and more people packed in. With each hour that passed I added 100,000 to the original expectation that 100,000 would show. It was 400,000. At the end of the day at the train station (just a little trip to stay with my friend Kis and her family in Philadelphia), weary feet, too many bags, sweaty and tired and so very happy I could participate…