For a cold, rainy Saturday afternoon, there was a healthy and happy turnout at the Portland march for climate justice at Tilikum Crossing. Roughly 500 people of all ages and backgrounds showed up to participate in the day’s activities, and to support the efforts of the Paris climate talks to make a significant impact on climate change. Activities included open participation in an umbrella flash mob, bucket drumming, singing and chanting, a costumed theater performance from very cute forest animals, and the opportunity to listen to a variety of insightful and inspiring speakers. Local marching band LoveBomb Go-Go primed the crowd for a boisterous march.
In talking to some of the people in the crowd throughout the event, it was clear that most were there out of a deep compassion for the coming generations of beings that will have to live in the midst of what we leave behind. Marilyn S., Minister Emeritus at First Unitarian Church, said, “I’m here because of my belief that this is the most serious and moral issue of our day, and that if we don’t do the right thing now, generations of people all over the world will suffer. And I don’t want to leave this earth – I’m 74 now – I don’t want to leave this earth in that kind of shape. I want to us to leave an earth that’s livable for all people. So that’s why I’m here today.”
What about the current generations of younger adults? How can they confront the uncertain road ahead? One protester, Rebecca, had this to say: “I’m here because I have to do this – because if I ever have children, I need to be able to give them a story about how I actually tried to do something. I can’t just do nothing. For all the children that are alive, and all the people, and all the beings, I have to do something.”
It goes without saying that climate justice should equal social justice. This is certainly a legitimate concern, since a growing number of people all over the world are becoming obliged to relocate as their homelands become ravaged by the climatic repercussions of an unconscious and fossil-fuel dependent system. George C. underlined this when he said from under his big umbrella, “I’m here because I’m concerned (…) about global warming and the consequences of it, and of all the social injustice that will follow: the displacement of people, the refugees, the starvation, unless we take care of this. So it’s a pressing need, we need to take care of it, the public needs to be aware. These kinds of demonstrations reach out to the public and say that this is important and that people of all ages and persuasions are concerned about it. We need to do something now.”
Being one tiny thread in such a web of people that truly care for this planet and all those who inhabit it gives us the strength to keep going, to put all that we can into this global effort to reshape our world from the ground up. Listening to each other reminds us of the many facets of this struggle, and that we all have to discover how to truly work together if we expect to affect true change. It was a beautiful gray day for a heartening march. May we see more to come as the climate justice movement evolves and expands.
– Jenny Badkins