Rain or Shine: A Wet Cat’s Perspective of the Portland Climate March

I’m going to be honest. When I’m exposed to rain water, my emotions can become that of a wet cat: inordinately displeased and uncomfortable. Needless to say, when I was headed to the Portland Opera House for the Climate March I was less than amused about the weather. Don’t get me wrong, I know that I live in the Pacific Northwest and that it’s natural for it to rain in the winter months. But man, mother nature has been laying it on thick these last couple of weeks and Saturday was no exception.

Regardless, I showed up in the midst of the pre-rally business. It didn’t take me long to find a role: assistant camera person for Balanced Media. Camera person…me? Really? Having basically no prior experience in film or photography, I was immediately excited to try something new. I guess the rain won’t be so bad after all…

I was handed a Go Pro and another fancy camera I’d never heard of and was on my way to make my mark. I looked around and everyone was filling other roles, too: donation-taker, site managers, hand warmer coordinators, actors, artists…so many people within so many roles that no one had ever done before. Regardless of the newly-fledged vibe of the volunteer crew, the rally went off without a hitch; we worked and the people came. Hundreds of people all walks of life outfitted in rain gear and muckers clamored under the Tillikum Bridge in solidarity with the people of Paris, the Marshal Islands, Iraq, along with the rest of the planet, which continues to suffer in the wake of environmental exploitation.

The people rallied with a contagious enthusiasm. Many held signs with colors that offset the grey hue of the morning and brought a sense of life to the march and its attendees. Sunflower umbrella-wielding activists led the march with an upbeat tune to empower us all. The rain let up slightly, but it wouldn’t have mattered had it been pouring, because the people were out with a reckoning.

As I filmed all of this, it occurred to me that this event and all of these people – the volunteers and attendees alike- were reminiscent of the type of solution we’re going to need to fulfill our Road Through Paris commitment of “turning off” fossil fuels and “turning on” fossil free energy. To achieve change, we’re going to need to be flexible and open to new ways of doing things, which, like being exposed to torrential rain or trying to operate a professional camera as an amateur, can be challenging (and at many times daunting) to overcome. However, we have all of the motivation necessary to overcome the status quo that has created the problems the world faces today.

We need good will.
We need resilience.
We need to become people that the world deserves even when it’s unfamiliar.
We need to sing songs in the face of adversity.
We need sunflower-umbrellas to vanquish apathy and reluctance.

This march was a symbol of great happenings of the present and future time and – rain or not – the experience was an inspiration.