The People’s Climate March

I had received a couple of e-mails about the People’s Climate March in New York (New York, USA) before I received the link to the movie Disruption from Diane.1 In our town, a group of people were raising funds to send two tour buses of people to the event, but it wasn’t clear to me what the big picture was until I watched the movie. Seeing it put everything into perspective, answered questions, and clarified things that had been vague for me. I was excited to share it with my ongoing RC class at our next meeting.

In preparation for the class, I reviewed some of the articles in the journal Sustaining All Life.2 After “news and goods,” a mini-session, and a bit of RC theory, we launched right into the film. We stopped whenever anyone was having feelings and did three rounds of my counseling each class member. We were not able to view the whole movie in one class meeting, so I e-mailed the link to everyone, suggesting that they watch the remainder of it in their Co-Counseling session that week. And I had all of my own sessions that week on the film—mostly on feelings of hopelessness and despair.

Once I had the bigger picture, I began thinking about those e-mails I had received about the buses to New York. I thought about all the marches on Washington3 that had happened in my lifetime and my lack of involvement in them. In every case, I’d had an opportunity to participate but hadn’t and I now regretted it. I called the local organizer to see if the buses were full. Unfortunately they were, but he put me on a waiting list in case someone cancelled.

I was excited about the possibility of going but had lots of fears too. I had never been to New York except to RC workshops, which meant just seeing the airport and the workshop site. I had never been in the city. The town I live in is pretty4 small, and the idea of New York was intimidating to me. Also, I knew that such a large crowd would restimulate some claustrophobia. I had sessions on that but found myself relieved when I got an e-mail on Thursday morning saying that it wasn’t going to be possible for me to go. Now I wouldn’t have to face the fears and inconvenience of a four-day bus trip.

But at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, I got a call. Someone had to cancel, and if I could get to the meeting place by 4:30 p.m., I could go. It was an all-expense-paid trip; my only cost would be my meals. And all I had to do was arrange for a dog sitter,5 cancel a few appointments, do some laundry, and pack. At 4:30, I was there. I was not willing to regret another missed opportunity to make a difference.

I carpooled to Little Rock (Arkansas, USA) with three men I didn’t know. We spent the night in the home of more people I didn’t know. At 5:00 a.m. on Friday we boarded buses for New York. I knew only one other person on the bus, but by the time we got to New Jersey, where we spent our second night, I felt like I was among old friends.

On the bus we watched the film Disruption, as well as Do the Math and one called Cowspiracy. Someone had brought a guitar, and another guy had a harmonica. I led folks in a sing-along. There were motivational talks as well, and by Sunday morning I was excited about getting to play a part in this historic event.

We arrived at the site of the march at 9:30 a.m. and began making signs and posters, helping others who were making them, blowing up balloons, and so on. By 10:30 a rally had begun. At many points I wished for a Co-Counselor; I could have discharged hard about climate change. What I did instead was try to listen to others as much as I could.

The thing I noticed about the rally was that everyone who spoke was “preaching to the choir.” They were saying things we already knew about why we were there. (It was an attempt at a “pep rally,”6 I think.) I kept thinking I had a piece of information about the care of the environment that this group didn’t have. I needed to speak to the crowd. I was very scared to do it, but I thought about Tim and Diane7 and all the Co-Counselors around the world who would want me to speak and for whom I would be speaking.

I worked my way through the crowd up to the front where people were standing on the back of a truck with a microphone and a megaphone. I found the man who seemed to be the MC8 and spoke to him about getting on the agenda. I told him that I needed to give a perspective from an elder African-heritage Southern female. He agreed and said that he had not been acting in any official capacity but that if I would stay up front, and he could get the mike9 back in his hands, he would call me up to speak. I waited, trembling yet determined, but he did not manage to bring it off.10 I was both disappointed and relieved.

Rather than shouting angrily about the bad guys who were destroying the planet, I had wanted to talk about the importance of connection. I had wanted to mention the fears that capitalism installs on us that separate us from each other. I had wanted to talk about making sure that the voices of disenfranchised groups were represented in our environmental activism. I had also wanted to say something about the importance of moving closer to those different from ourselves and facing our fears of each other, and about how our love for each other was a powerful force in our love and care for our mother Earth.

I noticed that lots of people were totally surprised that Arkansas was represented at the march. I’m not sure why they were surprised, but I think it was because of a stereotype of Arkansas being a conservative, not-progressive state. Many people in the march and along the sidelines cheered when they saw our signs that said, “I’m marching for Arkansas.”

By 7:30 on Sunday evening, we were back on our buses and beginning a twenty-hour trip back to Arkansas. On Monday afternoon, I decided to do a small class on the bus. I stood at the front with a microphone and talked about the things I had wanted to say earlier. I no longer felt like I was among strangers, and that made it easier, but I was still nervous about it. I invited people to take a three-minute-each-way mini-session with their seat-mate and talk about what had connected them to nature as a child. I ended with a little talk about how we are as new humans and how much we naturally want each other. I emphasized that our love for the planet is deeply connected to our love for all other human beings. I got cheers after the presentation, and several people hugged me and said that it had completely changed the tone of the trip. They spoke about feeling happier, lighter, and more connected.

On the car trip back to Fayetteville from Little Rock, my traveling partners—three white middle-class men—asked me to talk more about capitalism and how it separates us from each other. I did, and we had a long discussion about capitalism, sexism, and other oppressions. It was hard for me to hold my own11 with these men, as their points of view12 were restimulating. I had to remind myself to listen respectfully to them. But by the time I returned to my own car, I felt satisfied that I had indeed made a difference in the world, on both a large and a small scale.

Thanks again, Diane, for sending us the link to the movie and for thinking so well about our mother Earth. 

Dorothy Marcy
Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA
Reprinted from the e-mail
discussion list for RC teachers


1 Diane Shisk, the Alternate International Reference Person for the RC Communities, had sent to the RC teachers’ e-mail discussion list a link to where people could watch the movie Disruption on the Internet. Disruption is a movie about climate change, made in part to help mobilize people for the September 21 New York People’s Climate March.

2 The RC journal for people interested in care of the environment
3 Marches at the capitol of the United States, in Washington, D.C.
4 “Pretty” means quite.
5 “Dog sitter” means someone to take care of my dog.
6 A “pep rally” is a gathering aimed at inspiring enthusiasm.
7 Tim Jackins and Diane Shisk
8 “MC” means master of ceremonies, which means person who was acting as the host of the event.
9 Microphone
10 “Bring it off” means make it happen.
11 “Hold my own” means maintain my position.
12 “Points of view” means opinions.


Last modified: 2019-05-02 14:41:35+00