So I marched in the Climate March in New York City last Sunday.
While you’ve probably seen all the statistics and the amazing aerial photos of the march, there is nothing quite like being there.
In case you weren’t, here’s my ground’s eye view from WAAAY back in the third section of the march – which was devoted to “Climate Solutions.”
The march was:
- Enormous. 400,000 people showed, instead of the 100,000 people that organizers expected. On the ground, that meant that things got pretty crowded by the time the march got moving.
- Geographically diverse. The people around me came from everywhere. The man next to me was a high school science teacher. He had ridden 4 hours on a bus from Oneida, NY to march on behalf of his students. When I asked why he was carrying multiple signs, he said he planned to put them up in his classroom to spark discussion. I also met people from California, Chicago, Vermont, Massachusetts and North Carolina. This was not a New York-only event.
- Demographically diverse. All kinds of people marched: young and old, men and women, families and singles, many races. Were there – ahem – “crunchy granola” types? Yes. But they were wildly outnumbered by people who look like my neighbors.
- Very well organized. Thank you to the main organizers like 350.org for an amazing, successful event. Volunteers were easy to spot in their colorful tee-shirts, and directed me on my way. Thank you to the NYC police, who were out in force. The march was just as I had hoped – friendly, peaceful and LARGE. That doesn’t happen by itself.
- Most memorable moment. At 12:58 pm, the organizers had asked for a moment of silence followed by a minute of noise to metaphorically “raise the alarm” about climate change. It was astonishing to see that many people fall silent all at once. And then, the marchers broke out noisemakers of every kind, including drums, rattles, horns – even a metal pot and wooden spoon. I experienced sound as a physical force, a wave of sound that started in the distance and then rushed over me. Wow!
The Bottom Line
As I’ve said before, I am not the marching type, but this march felt historic.
400,000 people in NYC alone is an astounding number of people expressing concern about climate change. And many of them went to a great deal of trouble to get there – taking buses and trains for many hours to meet and demand action.
When I looked around initially, I thought, “Aahhh – these are my people.” But as the march progressed, I realized that “my people” seems to include everyone – students, teachers, kids and grandparents, people of faith, farmers, artists, scientists, business people and non-profits.
The key will be, can all that “people energy” be channeled into powerful and effective action? I think it can. After all, as one marcher’s sign put it, “There is no Planet B.”