Washington County, where I live in Middle Georgia, is small, about 20,000 people living in a county with white clay, rolling hills, and woods filled with deer.
Yesterday I watched the area at the Washington Monument fill with twice as many people as those who call Washington County home to make their concerns about our natural resources, climate, and health, clear to the country.
I met fellow tribe members from Burlington College in Vermont on the DC Metro Sunday morning. The young man who chatted with me was wearing a tie, I suspect because the day was planned to be of historic proportions.
A father with his young son, perhaps four years old, wearing a Forward on Climate button, navigated Union Station. Travelers from New York and New Mexico jockeyed for hot coffee before setting out in the bitter cold for the Washington Monument.
On our way to the monument we walked past a small group of people wearing bright yellow t-shirts. They weren’t smiling, and they seemed to want to debate and record people rather than participate. Clearly they weren’t there because of passion, and their sad, plain flyer with pro fossil-fuel data identified them as the hired hands the industry pays and outfits for events which threaten their profits.
We streamed in with signs and banners. We came by car, train, bus, and plane. Great-grandchildren perched on the laps of their elders in wheelchairs. Children carried cheerful signs with bright suns and flowers, lettered in the distinct print young children use.
We bounced on our toes to warm our feet. Couples held gloved hands. Before long we were a sea of fleece and down jackets.
And we marched, this river of people from across North America. Women from First Nations walked in front while men towards the back kept a steady beat on a large handmade drum. So many people, so many colors, shapes, ages, and reasons for being there to say, together, that the old ways must change.
We walked away from the yellow t-shirted few, greeting the people around us while we chanted and smiled. I walked with two women from Canada, then students from Earlham College and Appalachian State. New Yorkers opposed to fracking wore their signs over their chests and backs. Three men carried wooden numbers on tall stakes spelling out 350.
We cheered and chanted in front of the White House, calling for the President to make good on his words about Climate Change and how we will fuel our country. He had escaped the bitter cold for a weekend in Florida, but we were sure our voices were heard.
Our message was clear and our voices were strong. We made history yesterday standing shoulder to shoulder for the future we want for the youngest who were among us.