Early feedback on “Marcher” encouraging

Dear Friends,

In Marcher, Walker, Pilgrim (click here to purchase the book), I describe “the torture chamber of Catholic grade school” and write about beatings by nuns “too old to teach and too senile to care.” These experiences were pushed out of my mind long ago. Yet walking and writing brought them back to the surface.

Sharing those reflections before 85 people at the book launch on December 2 in Des Moines was difficult. Really difficult. It brought me to tears. I had to pass the book off to Sarah Spain, who kindly finished reading that page for me.

Sharing other excerpts from the book — the discomfort of walking so far, challenges faced by other marchers, my failure in love, witnessing climate disruption as we walked, even roadkill — made my voice crack. That’s rarely happened before, not during hundreds and hundreds of speeches I’ve given on disturbing and emotional issues.

Faith Meckley and Jeffrey Czerwiec lead the Great March for Climate Action in New Mexico.

The Great March for Climate Action  — the journey itself, writing about it, and now sharing it publicly — has been an immensely formative experience in my life. I didn’t know how the book would impact me. I also didn’t know how it would be received by others, yet I’m gratified at the responses I’ve received:

“Not being an avid reader I was amazed at how hard it was to put the book down.”

“Great insight on the struggles of environmental activism. … Loved hearing about the people you encountered in your travels.”

“I thought it would be boring, but it’s actually really, really interesting.”

“… profoundly thought-provoking and very entertaining.”

“Ed boldly faces the stings of loneliness, lost love, extreme pain and discomfort, unpredictable weather, and attempted mutiny as he leads Climate Marchers across the United States.”

Most important, I hope Marcher, Walker, Pilgrim helps fuel the growing sense of urgency about climate change — before it’s too late. During the next year, I’ll hold over 100 book readings across Iowa and the US. If you’d like to schedule one in your community, please contact me at ed@fallonforum.com.

Thank you. — Ed

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Let them in!

Dear Friends,

I woke up this morning ready to tell you about my new book, Marcher, Walker, Pilgrim. But news accounts of the huge migrant caravan of Central American refugees heading northward through Mexico has touched my heart deeply. I know some of you won’t like what I’m going to say, but I feel compelled to say it anyway.

Let them in! It’s a tough truth to accept, but U.S. policy in Central America has been a major contributing factor to the destabilization and corruption driving Hondurans, Guatemalans, and El Salvadorans from their homes. As this excellent article in the Independent points out, the U.S. is long overdue for a reckoning.

Over 7,000 migrants march through southern Mexico, heading north toward the U.S. border. (John Moore, Getty Images)

From the article: “America must acknowledge the role we played in creating this crisis over the past half-century and find a way to solve it. It isn’t only our raison d’être, it’s our moral responsibility. There is a humanitarian crisis in our own backyard, one we helped cause, and we must be willing to do our bit and help these desperate people any way we can.”

I know what it’s like to walk a long way. But I don’t know what it’s like to live in a country where human rights abuses are so horrific that you have no option but to flee, often with your children and few possessions. Here’s one news account that offers some additional insight.

I know I’m doing my part to help create a better world, but I wish I could do more. If I had another eight hours in the day, I’d organize a caravan from Iowa, walking south to the Mexican border, to welcome and offer help to the migrants. If anyone else thinks that’s a good idea, let’s meet at 10:00 this Saturday morning at Ritual Cafe to discuss it. I can’t lead the charge on it, but I’m happy to brainstorm ways in which we can help the caravan. I’m concerned what might happen to the migrants when they arrive at our border.

So, about Marcher, Walker, Pilgrim — this is the book I’ve been working on for four years. I’m excited to have it accomplished, and hope you’ll come to the book launch on Sunday, December 2 at 2:00 at 500 E Locust Street in Des Moines. I hope you’ll buy a book, or two, or three, too. (Think stocking stuffer . . . better than coal.) All proceeds support the work of Climate March.

Marcher, Walker, Pilgrim is my memoir from the 2014 Great March for Climate Action. The book’s cover reads: “On the 3,100-mile, 8-month walk from LA to DC in 2014, dozens of marchers became a mobile village — weathering harsh conditions, sharing joys and sorrows, and intensifying their commitment to the cause as they sounded the alarm about the climate crisis. Through humor and candid introspection, Ed shares his experience on the March and how it brought into focus his lifelong search for love and meaning — even as intense, interpersonal dramas threatened to tear the March community apart.”

At the launch on December 2, I’ll talk about the book, read selections, and take questions. Hardcover and paperback books will be available for purchase and, sure, if you like, I’ll sign your copy. We’ll have beverages and light homemade snacks, because I don’t believe in parties without snacks. Thanks to Downtown Disciples for providing the space.

Thanks! – Ed

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A New Year, A New Bold

Dear Friends,

Things may appear the same on the surface, but Bold Iowa is a markedly different organization than it was last year. Regrettably, the story is filled with broken promises. Bold Iowa’s supporters deserve to know what happened. So here goes.

In 2014, Bold Nebraska’s Jane Kleeb and I worked together when the Great March for Climate Action crossed Nebraska. In 2015, Jane joined me for a portion of the Pipeline Walk across Iowa. She approached me about expanding Bold here, and in March of 2016, Iowa became the first of four states to join the Bold Alliance.

Launching Bold Iowa together made so much sense. With my deep network of contacts built during three decades of political action, we jump-started Bold Iowa quickly. Jane’s connection to national funders landed a significant annual commitment to Iowa for five years. In return, the funders asked for a five-year commitment from me. I recall the funny conversation with Jane that sealed the deal. She asked if I could commit or if I was on the verge of becoming a full-time chicken farmer instead.

Our work went incredibly well. Bold Iowa received extensive state and national media coverage as we helped lead the fight against the Dakota Access pipeline. By the end of the first year, we’d grown the Bold Iowa Facebook page to over 9,000 and built a strong grassroots donor base. Jane and I talked nearly every day, and the rapport among our core team was positive and upbeat.

The turning point came when Jane called me in November of 2016 to tell me she was thinking of running for chair of the Nebraska Democratic Party. She asked my opinion, and I told her candidly that I felt noone could direct a growing, multi-state, grassroots organization and run a state political party.

Jane ran for chair, won, and almost immediately our regular communication stopped. In mid-April of 2017, she called to tell me she was disbanding the network (she didn’t — only Iowa and Oklahoma got the ax), and Iowa’s last day as part of the Alliance was May 31. I was stunned. I asked her about the five-year commitment. She denied there had ever been such a commitment, even though our five-year plan is referenced multiple times in email exchanges.

This break-up would have been more manageable if Jane had allowed Iowa to keep the resources we’d developed: our Facebook page, email list, donor list, and website. Last May, she kept going back and forth on what, if anything, she would allow us to keep. In the end, she presented conditions that were impossible to accept and we were left with nothing.

After working for over a year to brand “Bold Iowa,” I wasn’t about to ditch what so many people had worked hard to create. So last June, I incorporated Bold Iowa with the Iowa Secretary of State, purchased a new domain name, and created a new website and Facebook page. The transition has been stressful, frustrating and slow.

I don’t mind being sued by fossil-fuel companies (twice in one year now), politicians, or others who put greed and power ahead of the common good. But it’s painful to be at odds with someone who’s on the same side of the fight. For three years, Jane and I had built a solid working relationship. I will always have great respect for her organizing skills. But what she did to Iowa is unconscionable. Worse, it’s counter-productive to the very goals and values she stands for.

I’ve thought long and hard about how to bring this matter to closure. I sought legal representation in Iowa and later in Nebraska. I wrote to Jane multiple times last month about why it was in our mutual interest to share the resources we developed. No response.

The bottom line is this: injustice — even if it’s an injustice committed by someone fighting for a just cause — must be challenged. Those of us struggling for a better world have to be brave enough to hold each other accountable.

So, if you want to be involved in rebuilding Bold Iowa, we could sure use your help. Visit our new Facebook page and website.

If you’d like to donate, use this link. (Some of you have tried to donate on the Bold Alliance site, but we’ll never see a penny of that.) With the all-important court case brought by landowners and the Sierra Club likely to come before the Iowa Supreme Court this spring, your involvement and support are needed now more than ever.

While we’re on the subject of calling out injustice even when it’s uncomfortable, check out the conversation on this week’s Fallon Forum (above) about workers getting sick at the TPI wind-blade factory in Newton. We absolutely need new power sources to move beyond fossil-fuels, but what’s happening with industrial wind raises grave concerns. Give the program a listen, let me know what you think, and please help me build our audience by subscribing to the Fallon Forum on iTunes or Stitcher.

Listen to the Fallon Forum live Mondays, 11:00-12:00 noon CT on La Reina KDLF 96.5 FM and 1260 AM (central Iowa).

Outside of central Iowa, listen here: FALLON FORUM LIVESTREAM AND PODCAST.

– Listen on other local affiliates:
– KHOI 89.1 FM (Ames, IA)
– KICI.LP 105.3 FM (Iowa City, IA)
– WHIV 102.3 FM (New Orleans, LA)
– KPIP-LP, 94.7 FM (Fayette, MO)

Thanks!

Ed Fallon

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The Contemplative Side of Social Change

Dear Friends,

Jess and Ruby were livestreamed on the Fallon Forum on Monday.

I’ve had lots of invigorating conversations lately about the spiritual and moral impetus for civil disobedience. Much of that conversation was inspired by the resistance of Jessica Reznicek and Ruby Montoya, who recently confessed to damaging Dakota Access pipeline equipment. Check out our talk on this week’s Fallon Forum, and dialogue with Ruby and Jess face-to-face tonight at 7:00 p.m. at 1041 8th Street in Des Moines.

Leaving time for introspection has always been tough for me. How tough? Here’s a reflection I wrote about . . . well, about reflection . . . during the 2014 Great March for Climate Action. As always, feedback welcome. Thanks. – Ed

“With Steve gone, my marching day becomes increasingly contemplative. I often avoid the route Sarah and Anna have laid out and tack on extra miles to walk quiet roads or detour through small towns in search of a cafe with Internet service and large servings of bad food.

“Western Nebraska is sparsely inhabited but under-appreciated, exuding a wealth of sights, sounds and smells too abundant to catalogue. The lack of traffic liberates me from the fear that the next car or truck barreling past could kill or maim me. My focus shifts from survival to the alluring world around me — and to the even more alluring world within.

“Marching becomes meditation, my footsteps the mantra. I see the fields, ditches, trees, irrigation pivots, fence lines, homes and out-buildings. I hear the dog bark, the cow bellow for her calf, the cardinal sing to his mate, the warm breeze rustle the chest-high corn. I smell the white clover, the fresh-cut hay, the comfortable scent of horses, the acrid pungency of too many hogs. All this and so much more drifts through my senses in slow motion — visual, audial and olfactory b-roll, the canvas for the actual performance of life itself.

“My mind focuses on the repetitive, rhythmic crunch of shoes on gravel. It clears my head and brings a sense of peace. I recall the meditation course I took at age sixteen, the ten-minute introductory session inducing an unexpected inner calm that remained with me the rest of the day. Nothing bothered me — not the blackberry thorns that tore at my skin as I harvested the plant’s fruit; not my Mother’s nagging; not my brother calling me names for sport.

“Years later, after a long day hitchhiking through the French Alps, I settled for a bit high up in the mountains at a Buddhist monastery. Sitting for hours with the monks as they chanted “om,” the sound playing off ancient stone walls that once housed Catholic monks, I noticed how the mantra would roll through six or more unique tones in one recitation.

“Decades later on a work day during my campaign for governor, I thought about that experience as I made tiramisu at Cafe Dodici, an Italian restaurant in Washington, Iowa. The restaurant’s young, artistic chef showed me how to blend the egg yolks. “Watch how many different shades of yellow they go through, like 15 or 20,” he explained excitedly. “It’s awesome, as if you’re watching the universe unfold in a mixing bowl. But you’ll need some tunes to really bring it home,” he said as he flipped a switch sending rap music blaring through the kitchen.

“Om. Egg yolks. Footsteps. There are endless aids to center oneself on the path to enlightenment. But a mantra isn’t stagnant white noise. It’s alive, rich with motion and texture. My right heel’s first contact with gravel produces a deep tone. There’s a sudden decrescendo as the foot begins to roll forward. The pitch and volume rise as my weight shifts to the ball of the foot as the left heel moves into place and repeats the pattern. Every four steps, my walking stick punctuates the rhythm with a sharp sforzando as it grinds into the loose gravel. Right. Left. Right. Left. Right. Left. Seven million times . . .

“Like waves breaking on a beach, my footsteps roll through gravel, through Nebraska, toward infinity, toward eternity. At times like this, my mind seems to get it. The technique and purpose of meditation — directing the hungry soul toward the peace that comes with knowing one’s higher self — is so simple, so transparently important. Yet more often than not, my mind remains restless, distracted by both beauty and ugliness, unable to focus on the deeper truth that transports one beyond pleasure and pain.

“Forty years ago, my first meditation was a uniquely powerful experience. But life’s pressing demands lured me away from the pursuit of inner peace. Perhaps had I continued to meditate, continued to cultivate the balance that such practice brings, I’d be able to manage the March’s turmoil with more dignity. Perhaps meditating during my solo walks on backroads might yet help me deal with the challenges ahead.

“A dog barks. I re-enter the world of the senses. What kind of dog is that? Is it on a leash? Does it bite?

“A bird sings . . . wren or finch?

“Will the cafe in the next town serve real butter?

“I hope I don’t run out of wet wipes today.

“I suck at meditation, even under the tutelage of a guru as patient as western Nebraska’s gravel roads.”

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Climate Justice Unity March

Dear Friends,

To build momentum for the People’s Climate Movement, Bold Iowa and its partners are organizing an eight-day, 80-mile Climate Justice Unity March. Marchers will set out from Indigenous Iowa’s Little Creek Camp near Millersburg on April 22 and arrive at the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines at 1:00 p.m. on April 29 for a huge rally.

The People’s Climate Movement is gaining momentum for a landmark day of action on April 29, marking the 100th day of the Trump Presidency. The major event is in Washington, DC — a march for climate, justice and jobs. Hundreds of sister marches, rallies and events are planned in cities across the U.S. and around the globe.

In Iowa, the People’s Climate Movement will rally at the Iowa State Capitol from 1:00-3:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 29. A broad coalition of groups is working to make this rally a statewide event involving thousands of Iowans concerned about a broad range of issues.

The organizations partnering with Bold Iowa for the Climate Justice Unity March include:

Indigenous Iowa
Sage Sisters of Solidarity
League of United Latin American Citizens (Council 307)
Creative Visions
Iowa Farmers Union
La Reina KDLF 1260 AM
Hola Iowa
Iowa Physicians for Social Responsibility
Great March for Climate Action

Here’s the route, overnight stops and approximate mileage:
Saturday, April 22: Little Creek Camp to Deep River (12 miles)
Sunday, April 23: Deep River to Montezuma (8 miles)
Monday, April 24: Montezuma to Searsboro (10 miles)
Tuesday, April 25: Searsboro to Sully (8 miles)
Wednesday, April 26: Sully to Reasnor (10 miles)
Thursday, April 27: Reasnor to Prairie City (12 miles)
Friday, April 28: Prairie City to Pleasant Hill (12 miles)
Saturday, April 29: Pleasant Hill to Iowa State Capitol (8 miles)

The evening forum and potluck is as important as marching. As we work to build the strongest possible alliance to push-back against the failed policies of status-quo politicians at both the state and federal level, it’s essential that we take time to listen to each other and embrace our common ground and destiny.

The Climate Justice Unity March provides a unique opportunity to bring these voices together through the dignified, disciplined commitment of marching, and through non-confrontational gatherings each evening that will build momentum for April 29 and forge new relationships essential to the work we must do going forward.

Sign up here to join the march for the entire eight days, or even for a day: https://goo.gl/forms/r638T4XCIEoqfCDY2

Thanks! For further details, contact me at ed@boldiowa.org.

Ed Fallon

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Catholic Church speaks out on climate

Dear Friends,

I am honored to have Bishop Richard Pates of the Des Moines Catholic Diocese on today’s Fallon Forum at 11:00 a.m. You can tune-in to the conversation live on KDLF 1260 AM La Reina or online. A podcast will be available after the program.

Responding to Pope Francis’ encyclical addressing climate change, Bishop Pates wrote “An honest conversation acknowledges that humans are causing much of the recent climate change . . . The dialogue we need is not about whether to act on clime change but how to act.” (The Des Moines Register, July 2, 2015)

Bishop Pates goes on to challenge us to action, saying, “With presidential candidates already visiting us regularly, I encourage Catholics across our state, and all people of good will, to talk to them and ask not if, but how, they plan to work toward solutions to climate change.”

Already, 2015 has been a big year for climate action, with two major events still on the horizon:

* Pope Francis’ visit to the U.S. this month, including a first-ever address by a pontiff to a joint session of Congress.

* The United Nations Climate Summit in Paris, November 30 – December 11, where expectations are high that a serious climate agreement might at last be attained.

I am grateful for Bishop Pate’s clarion call to faith-based action on behalf of creation and our planet. And I am grateful to all who are engaged in principled acts of conscience leading up to these two landmark moments in the face of escalating climate disasters. There are so many encouraging citizen-based actions in progress right now, it’s impossible to note them all. But let me mention three:

1. The Climate Mobilization, a promising new initiative challenging presidential candidates, other elected leaders, and all of us to confront climate change honestly and commit ourselves to “a World War II-scale emergency climate mobilization to protect civilization from the climate crisis.” If you haven’t yet signed the Pledge to Mobilize, please do.

2. Activists, including some of last year’s participants in the Great March for Climate Action, are fasting for eighteen days in front of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) building in Washington, DC. In advance of the Pope’s visit, they hope to call on FERC to stop issuing permits for fracking.

3. The People’s Pilgrimage chronicles an informal network of concerned people heading to Paris for the U.N. Climate Summit, or those who plan to be there in spirit. The initiative’s website says, “You can cross a continent, or only walk a mile. It’s up to you. You can do it any way you like – walk, cycle or some other low or zero fossil fuel means. What matters is the spiritual journey and that you use the journey to reflect on the risks of climate change.”

Join us live every Monday from 11:00-12:00 noon CDT on KDLF 1260 AM (Des Moines) and online. Call (515) 528-8122 to add your voice to the conversation. The program re-broadcasts Wednesday on KHOI 89.1 FM (Ames) at 4:00 p.m. and Wednesday on KPVL 89.1 FM (Postville) at 7:00 p.m. Podcasts available, too.

Thanks! – Ed Fallon

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Walking the (pipe)line

Dear Friends,

I have one request of you this week: Please forward this message to at least one media contact and your personal and/or professional network. Help get the word out now, so that when this walk begins in March, we’ll have a great list of contacts from which to organize meetings and events. From everything I’m seeing and hearing, we can stop this pipeline – despite the powerful, well-financed forces lined-up against us. Continue Reading →

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