Reflections from 350.org’s Forward on Climate Rally
On February 17, I looked around at the 40,000 people surrounding me; people from all over the country, with different interests and dreams, and from all walks of life. We all traveled to Washington D.C. for one common cause, to prevent the deterioration of our planet. We gathered to urge the president to not commit to any more investments on projects that would increase our dependence on dirty energy, specifically, the Keystone Pipeline. We gathered to show that we must expand efforts for renewable energy sources. The crowd was eager and excited and on that Sunday, I felt something I’ve never felt on such a grand scale.
As humans, we all want to feel like we’re a part of something. When you get a group of people together that share a common goal or desire, it can feel powerful. We all have those moments when we look out at a beautiful landscape or stare into the details of an interesting plant or lover’s eye, and realize, that everything on this blue rock suspended in space is connected. This experience is beautiful and enlightening for an individual. However, to physically see that 40,000 other people share this sentiment of awe for our amazing planet and are willing to fight for it, is truly electrifying.
While the size and variety of the crowd was inspirational enough, the speakers intensified the energy with clear, strong, and powerful language regarding climate change.
The first speaker, Bill Mckibben, the founder of 350.org stated, “It is all of you, you are the antibodies kicking in as the planet tries to fight its fever.”
Reverend Yearwood from the Hip Hop Caucus spoke directly to the President Obama, urging him to not sign for the approval of the Keystone Pipeline. He says,
If you fail to act now to deal with this crisis, …, history will judge you 20 years from now based on one decision alone. That decision is not in the hand of the congress, that decision is not in the hand of any governors, the decision is in your hands Mr. President. The decision to let this pipeline cut through American is the most fateful decision you will ever make Mr. President. It would be like jabbing a dirty needle into this country and Canada. It would be like lighting a fuse on a carbon bomb.
Yearwood kept the energy up and lead us on our march to the Whitehouse. As we approached the President’s home, we held the dark side of our signs high above our heads, representing the tar sands pipeline. As we arrived in front of the Whitehouse, we flipped our signs over to the white side, representing our transition into clean, renewable energy sources.
As the rally came to a close, I left feeling inspired, and excited for our future. I felt eager to work towards a future that I am happy to live in. I am sure the 40,000 other people felt the same. But this energy needs to be maintained and 350.org is trying to do just that by planning our next steps towards a sustainable planet.
This Sunday, March 10th at 7pm, communities are gathering around the country to video chat with Bill Mckibben about the current political landscape and what’s next for the climate movement. Each individual groups are encouraged to generate new ideas and perfect some of their existing ones, which will then be submitted to 350.org. The following week, there will be a national conference call to report back on what everyone discussed. You can find an event near you, or sign up to be a host here.
We will continue to move forward as that eager, excited group of individuals that became one powerful entity at the rally. Sharing ideas and building off each other’s energy is what will fuel this campaign and those to come.
By LeAnne Harvey, Human Impacts Institute Environmental Leadership Intern 2012-2013