Parenting Green: People’s Climate March
Reflections on the People’s Climate March
NYC Sept 21st, 2014
I felt it was important to go to the Climate March because it was going to be historic—the largest climate rally in history, and people from all over the globe had an opportunity to share a collective stance. Indigenous groups joined with hundreds of thousands of people to be speaking with the same voice with a lot more presence. Singer Angelique Kidjo spoke with Amy Goodman from Democracy Now as she represented the women in Africa who are paying the price for climate change as it is directly affecting their crops and their livelihood right now. In some way I felt just as unheard as them. Al Gore and Bill McKibben stood strong leading the march though all fame aside there was an overall voice throughout of truly this being about ‘us the people.’
So what made my husband and I want to bring our children when the thought of taking 3 kids to the grocery store is daunting? Well, I guess it’s because we recognized that daily discomforts and mood shifts would be a part of our day with kids anyway, so we were ready for that. It was just something we were going to do. To have them not only experience a civil action for a cause they believe in, but also to let them know just how important our actions are. It’s a unique opportunity to broadcast the small ‘work’ we all do every day as individuals to minimize our impact.
So just like any other trip, there were new activity books for the ride to keep them engaged, there were delightful snacks in plenty, water, and special drinks in their own lunchbox to self-regulate from throughout the day. We packed the night before knowing we’d be out the door at 6am to catch the charter bus. We brought just a couple backpacks, knowing too we could keep non-essential items on the bus meant we marched with just one large hiking backpack carrying our raincoats, a small first aid kit, sunscreen, snacks, water, and a few diapers for the day. The kids wore sneakers and we left extra layers of clothes on the bus for everyone. We brought a baby back-pack style carrier for our 2 ½ year old, though trust me, every one of our kids had wanted to be carried at some point! (It took about 4 hours to move just 2 miles!)
What truly surprised me about going was just how incredibly organized and orchestrated the march was and how at ease it felt to be there. The organizers had designed it with 6 sections each hosting different themes that you could choose to place yourself in to march for that contingent. There were porta johns, water stations, and vigilant security of their own as well as NYPD police and helpers lining the whole march. You could sign-up to receive updates and alerts through text messaging while the march was happening. Not only that but the charter dropped us off just a couple of blocks from where we could enter the back of the march and picked us up just 8 blocks away from where it all ended. Kudos to the 350MA Pioneer Valley who helped charter these buses and also for the Sierra Club for sponsoring seats so the cost for each seat was more like $15 as opposed to $90.
Even knowing all that was in place, I still held a lot of fear around being vulnerable with my precious kids and family in this large city with extra hundreds of thousands of people in a place at a moment in time where irrational decisions towards innocent bystanders were not uncommon. It was hard to ignore, and I thought I was coming down with some sort of upper respiratory infection the two days before because I was having trouble breathing at night, but really I realized I was having some mild panic attacks. There was an underlying current of some true resistance and fear there. I recognized afterwards that other friends with kids who didn’t go had this flavor of feeling they had missed out or ‘wished’ they had gone, and I wonder if it was a similar fear that was holding them back? They were admiring that we were really walking the talk. It also got me to reflect on other times as a parent when we think life will be easier if we avoid conflict or the potential of it and end up saying yes to our fears even if it means compromising our values or not taking a comfortable stand with our views. It was really that whole visceral experience that really stuck with me after the march. As far as what stuck with the kids, well, it’s hard to get a lot of conversation out of them at this age, but the pathways were made and my hope for their engagement is strong.
What inspired me were the incredible displays of creativity and expression throughout the march seen in sculpture, banners, costumes, and music that made the day a celebration. It displayed our promise as people who naturally come up with solutions, are creative with what we have, and inspire others with hope and delightfulness. All this momentum still continues, and families and individuals in the Pioneer Valley can take part in meetings and events through 350 Massachusetts or donate to their causes.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Angie Gregory settled in the Western MA 6 years ago after many years of traveling the country. She lives in Northampton, MA with her husband and three kids and is an avid gardener and studies herbal medicine. She has worked in the community fostering projects like Grow Food Northampton and started Mother Herb Diaper Service out of her home after the birth of her second child. Her business is now a cooperative venture and has relocated to Holyoke, MA under the name of Simple Diaper & Linen.