Donald Trump visited my fair city last Monday for a campaign rally. Though I was nowhere near him, the next morning, for the first time in my life, I woke up screaming.
He stayed overnight somewhere in town, and all of the evil energy he brought with him did what my abusive family, being held hostage at gunpoint for more than 2 days, 50+ years of watching horror movies, and the nuclear arms race of the 1980s couldn’t. I actually found my voice in my sleep and screamed blood curdling screams so loud my husband thought I was dying or the house had been invaded.
We needed something to counteract that energy.
These days, I don’t often go to protests and other activities that require hours of standing and walking because of my chronic illnesses, which involve migraines, chronic fatigue and pain, among other symptoms. However, I recently gave in and bought a wheelchair just so that I don’t have to miss things like the Women’s March anymore. I still feel weird asking the other members of the family, who have their own health issues, to push me around, but the times that I’d test driven wheelchair rentals at large parks and museums convinced me it was worth figuring out.
I’m glad I did. My daughter is in the Sustainability program at the University of New Mexico, and knew many of the organizers. She assured my husband and I that it wasn’t just a youth march and she really wanted us to go. The organizers wanted as many people as possible of all ages to attend. They were hoping for 2,000. During the event her professor told her he thought they’d reached their goal.
The climate event lasted all afternoon, with a rally, then a march to the offices of our two federal senators, Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall to demand they support the Green New Deal. When the marchers returned to the park, the afternoon concluded with a climate fair, including live music.
The progressive mayor of Albuquerque, Tim Keller, who is one of my heroes, spoke during the rally. This week the city passed a resolution declaring a climate emergency. ABQ has the goal of running on 100% renewable energy by 2025. Mayor Keller works tirelessly to make that happen.
Local students from all over also spoke very eloquently, along with many others. Educational booths, food trucks and games for the kids were scattered around the park. There were free water stations so that no one got dehydrated, since it was a hot, sunny day.
It was a peaceful, happy afternoon, despite the seriousness of the subject. But no one forgot what we were there for. Multiple petitions circulated all day. The park emptied out during the march to the senators’ offices. Everyone was thinking about the next steps that need to be taken, at every level, from composting, to buying electric cars, to changing the ways our governments make decisions.
Because that’s what it will take- large decisions and small decisions, every day. They all add up. We can’t leave it to our governments, and they can’t leave it to us. What you eat and how it’s packaged and what kinds of poisons you put into the world matter, just like whether or not you vote matters, because our individual decisions add up.
Whatever 7 billion individual people do, matters.
And whatever their governments do, matters, because governments decide whether to stop corporate polluters or allow them to continue. They decide whether to tighten emission standards, ban the use of fossil fuels altogether, or do nothing. They decide whether to protect land, species and the less privileged or to allow the powerful to rape and pillage until there’s nothing left of our home but an empty shell.
It’s up to individuals to make their voices heard and to “vote with their feet”– If you want to see a world that uses fewer fossil fuels, use fewer fossil fuels now, yourself. Serve as an example for others. Even small changes can inspire others to make small changes. History is full of revolutions that began with one small action. Believe that it can happen. You already have a role model in Greta Thunberg, the young Swedish woman who has spearheaded climate strikes around the world.
The crowd and some of the speakers:
Mayor Tim Keller speaks to the crowd:
Some of the marchers. The kids marched further, often with their school classes.
The police kept a distant but watchful eye on proceedings. I didn’t see or hear of any issues. They came into the crowd at one point.
It wouldn’t be an outdoor event in ABQ without canine representation.
The water station, some signs, and more shots of the crowd:
Photos by Cathy Munson-Klein and Taj Sampson.