Coast to Coast for Climate Action
By Linda Currie, Event Manager, Green Sangha
On September 15, I boarded the People’s Climate Train in Emeryville, California, along with about 125 others, including Green Sangha member Trish Clifford. We were headed for the People’s Climate March in NYC on September 21, a monumental gathering of more than 400,000 citizens in advance of the United Nations Climate Summit. As we traversed the country, greeted by colorful sign-waving supporters in Reno, Denver, Salt Lake City, and Chicago, our numbers grew to more than 200. We rolled through beautiful mountain ranges, rivers and plains, sometimes having to stop for freight cars filled with coal or oil, reminders of our purpose.
The Climate Train was organized by local Buddhists and the Center for Biological Diversity as a less carbon-intensive way to bring engaged people from the west to the east coast, and to provide opportunities to prepare for the march ahead.
On the surface, we were a disconnected, motley crew, ranging from 18 to 80 years old, all colors and so many walks of life: indigenous peoples, nuns, ministers, teachers, students, social justice advocates, environmental leaders, union members, and business owners. Over the long hours we connected and talked with each other, participating in dozens of workshops on issues such as divestment, tar sands, non-violent direct action, faith leaders’ response to climate change, and rights of nature.
By the time we arrived at Penn Station in NYC, we had formed unexpected bonds and become allies, ready to march together to protect what we love, our planet. One of the Green Sangha principles says, “Throughout the universe, One Body revealed.” I felt this so deeply in my heart every day on this journey: “Of course we love the planet. It is us!”
The People’s Climate March in New York City was huge, colorful, diverse, completely peaceful. The sense of quiet power was palpable in the air. At 12:58 pm, silence rolled back from the front through the crowd like the jet stream, connecting us all in two minutes of quiet. At 1 pm, cell phones led a wave-like roar back through the rows of marchers: a symbolic call to awakening. The march continued for several miles, ending without aplomb with a large gathering of food and music. Then, people dispersed in every direction, going back to the places and lives they had come from, knowing that something important had just taken place.
When I first awakened to the climate crisis, I vowed to do everything in my power to make a difference. At that time, our children were young and my husband and I were both busy working parents. I had no idea how I could personally have an effect, but I let myself be guided. Green Sangha was one of the organizations I found that has guided and sustained me on my path, providing grounding for all my actions, from those early days until now. Getting on the People’s Climate Train and marching were just more natural and powerful steps I could take to do my part.
Editor’s note: Have you participated in a Low Carbon Diet group? This is an easy and fun way to make real, measurable, and lasting reductions in your carbon use. Groups are forming in Marin County, for five sessions of neighborly gatherings (meeting weekly or biweekly). Participating households have already reduced their carbon emissions by 2.2 million pounds per year. More info here: Resilient Neighborhoods.