Walking for Our Grandchildren, II

Miami Climate MarchIt has been two years since my spouse and I participated in the Walk for Our Grandchildren in Washington DC. This Wednesday, we are joining the People’s Climate March in Miami. If you live there and are paying attention, it won’t be news that rising seas combined with geology are already playing havoc with the city’s drainage system, regardless of storm activity. How Miami would come through a major hurricane no one seems willing to address, at least, not officially. It would hurt the booming economy, is the political mantra of the denial crowd.

Grandparents tend to have more at stake in the future than other people, so I find it strange that these marches are not bringing hundreds if not thousands of us into the streets in nonviolent demonstrations. The 2013 Washington Grandparent march drew about 300 people, a small number given the credentials of the speaker, longtime activist and author, Bill McKibben.  A handful of marchers were arrested. It made the news. OK, that action and others like it may have succeeded in killing the KXL Pipeline, but that is clearly more symbolic than a real shift in direction. The reality is, trains carrying oil roll through suburban towns like mine every single day. Organizers of the Miami march project between 500-8,000 people, a far cry from the 40,000 that assembled in New York last fall even at the high point.  Not close to the 250,000 Germans who protested the TPP this week.

Meanwhile, despite clear danger and plenty of implementable plans in the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Action Plan that could at least put some brakes on the inevitable, coastal cities are bristling with construction cranes. Realtors are talking recovery. New celebrity restaurants and name boutiques are opening in areas vulnerable to flooding. And Dr. Oz recently dropped a reported $18 million on a Palm Beach mansion. Go figure.

All of this sharpens my concern for our five grandchildren, especially the two 17-year-old grandsons in their final year of high school, looking ahead to college next year. Graduates are finding work in the shadow economy or grabbing jobs well below their qualifications now. It’s hard to see how this will improve in 4-5 years. The larger question that troubles my sleep is, what kind of education can prepare our grandchildren for a world completely unlike the one they grew up on, sans cheap energy?  If the COP21 Summit in Paris this November falls short of its carbon reduction targets as it appears it will, their generation could be facing climate events of an unprecedented scale and velocity; resource wars; and massive population displacements. Our military is certainly preparing for these outcomes* even as our politicians continue to fiddle, tweak data, or flat out deny the evidence.

I’m told this march will be more like a festival, with music and dancing, plus colorful banners and puppets. We will walk about a mile between the Miami government center and the Torch of Friendship where there will be another rally. It’s made up of a coalition of the like-minded, from the League of Women Voters to the Sierra Club. We’re also voters who will choose our presidential candidate through the lens of climate change. Thomas Friedman’s recent Op-Ed: Stuff Happens to the Environment, Like Climate Change doesn’t mince words “… if you vote for a climate skeptic for president, you’d better talk to your kids first, because you will have to answer to them later.” We answering to them now, before they ask. With our hearts, and our feet.

* “Climate change will affect the DoD’s ability to defend the nation and poses immediate risks to U.S. national security.” 

Not Easy Being Hopeful?

If you thought it wasn’t easy being green (whatever that means), try being consistently hopeful under the circumstances. A week ago, research from the University of Melbourne found the forecasts of the groundbreaking 1972 Limits to Growth are on target. We are, says the report, in the early stages of global collapse. I have been aware of the book since E. Shaw Cole, my then father-in-law, a respected water systems engineer, returned from the Club of Rome meeting with a copy in hand. Popi was no political radical, yet as a practical, sane, good man, he grasped what we were in for if we didn’t change course.  And he wanted all of us in the family to get it, too.

This past Sunday, 350.org’s brilliant film, Disruption (available here), was released for online viewing. We had a house-party screening for two, and, although there is no denial about climate change and resource wars in this home, the images from Typhoon Haiyan and tDistruptionhe emotional testimony of the Philippines representative at a recent climate conference, left us both shaken.

So between taking in the film and the latest validation of Limits to Growth, my week began at a low point. I had a date with a blog post, but my head was spinning and my heart hurt. Later Monday, I got a call from fellow Transitioner, Nathan Venzara, bursting with good news about his plan to build a Tiny House for his young family. The Tiny House movement is a form of downsizing and simplifying life, often motivated by environmental concerns. Nathan is excited about the prospect of living more lightly and sanely, and to be free of debt (what a concept!)  He has agreed to talk about his project at a future Transition monthly meeting, and I’ll be writing more about the subject here.  His steadfast dedication to bringing it about, to do the thing that he can do now,  helped snap me around.  I was able to shift my focus to all the great organizations that are coming together in New York City on September 21 for the People’s Climate March, over 1,100, large and small, including 300 universities and colleges from the area.  There will also be 1,500 actions in 130 countries (more by the numbers).  Clearly, many people agree with activist/author, Naomi Klein: “We have a responsibility to rise to our own historical moment.”

Do I want to be at the march? Hell, yeah! Got a bed for two nights thanks to my generous friend and fellow yogi, Julia Hough. Now if I can figure out how to beam myself there …

So far, Transition Town Media (PA) and Transition Newton (NJ) will be representing the movement at the march. That makes sense, geographically. But people are coming from all over the country, including from California, by train, bus, carpool.  Some even on foot.  It’s that important. So, hear this: If you can’t, for whatever reason be there yourself, at least support those who will be putting their bodies on the line, e.g Team Backbone is looking for donations. Every action adds up.

The other thing we must do is keep on working to change the status quo which is most certainly on track to destroy civilization as we’ve known it. (Not everyone agrees that’s a bad thing.)  Says Dr. Naomi Oreskes, Harvard science historian, (quoted in the film): “The reality we’re facing is very grave. So how do you not get depressed about it? Well, one way you don’t get depressed is by work.”

Right now, I’m working on a slide-show called Transition Towns: 8 Years On for our next meeting.  The research about how this grassroots movement, born out of permaculture, has successfully grafted itself onto communities all over the world, is uplifting.  I remind myself that, even if I don’t make it to the People’s Climate March later this month, I have plenty to do right here.  And when the going gets tough, I replay one of Rob Hopkins’ cheerful You Tube talks.  Or I dip into my handy copy of Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We’re in Without Going Crazy by Joanna Macy,  She writes:

“The biggest gift you can give is to be absolutely present, and when you’re worrying about whether you’re hopeful or hopeless or pessimistic or optimistic, who cares? The main thing is that you’re showing up, that you’re here and that you’re finding ever more capacity to love this world because it will not be healed without that.”

https://www.facebook.com/peoplesclimatemarch

http://thetinylife.com/what-is-the-tiny-house-movement/