Climate Justice Unity March: Day 6

Thursday, April 27, 2017 – Reasnor to Prairie City (11 miles)

Shelley Buffalo and Zach Ide lead the March.

The weather has gone cold and damp, with temperatures 20 degrees below average. Days like this give fodder to the handful of people who completely deny climate change, with comments like, “Gee, we could sure use some global warming now.”

Yet the vast majority of Iowans know the climate is changing, although there remains disagreement over the cause. My entirely unscientific estimate is that about half the people we’ve met on the March accept that it’s caused by human activity while the other half believe it’s cyclical.

The common denominator is that nearly everyone agrees it’s changing, and on this point of agreement we find support for renewable energy, improving water quality and limiting the scope of eminent domain. That’s a solid starting point for crafting an agenda for policy change that our local, state and federal officials need to get behind.

Darrin Ehret writes me again with more encouraging news: “I found it interesting that one of the people that opposed your group the most has had a change of heart. She encountered one of your group (Chap Myers) at a gas station. She was short on cash while at the cash register and needed to go back to her car to get more. A gentleman paid the difference for her. On their way back to her car to get the money it turned out to be one of your folks. So I think things are softening up. I did see the changes. Thanks.”

Little acts of kindness matter. Even though there was no conversation about climate change between Chap and the woman, there was a transformation of heart based on Chap’s simple gesture of generosity.

The group that’s been attacking the March and Little Creek Camp online has softened its stance, too. Here’s their latest video, which is full of inaccuracies (I address those below), but shows how the March’s approach to civility and dialogue is having a positive effect. Click here to see the video.

Here’s my response, which I shared with the video’s author who has since invited me to do an interview with him:

“While I appreciate some of this, I offer a few corrections and clarifications:
1. I am not the defacto leader of the camp.
2. Christine Nobiss has not stepped down.
3. The red cape in the photo of me joking around pretending to bend a pipe (actually carrying water) is photo-shopped.
4. We did not fly the flag reluctantly (any patriotic American who heard the discussion we had about carrying the flag would have been impressed with our conversation and reasons for flying it).
5. We did go door-to-the-door on the march but to my knowledge never asked for donations.”

Craig Stafford’s dog, Penny, pretends to drive the gear truck that Craig and Joe Henry drove.

After a solid day of cloud cover, the sun shines this evening on our camp at the Community Center in Prairie City. The City Administrator, Lori Martin, stops by to welcome us, and the school across the street provides showers. The amazing, talented Natalie Lowe performs for us (really, check out her music here: https://natalielowe.bandcamp.com) and we again enjoy Chap’s cooking and Donnielle’s fry bread.

Marchers pose with “United for Climate Justice” signs before dinner at the Prairie City Community Center.

An evening of fun, food and fellowship is followed by a difficult two-hour meeting to discuss internal concerns within our March family. It’s an emotional meeting — painful but productive — and there’s a collective sense of accomplishment at the meeting’s conclusion.

Our work is not always with those who disagree with us. Maintaining harmony and understanding within any group of fellow travelers is a challenge and requires time, effort and patience. Tonight’s meeting was a reminder of that, and of the positive dividends that such an investment can bring.

Please like & share:

Climate Justice Unity March: Day 1

Saturday, April 22, 2017 – Little Creek Camp to Deep River (12.8 miles)

On a break during the opening 12.8-mile march.

Today saw three notable “firsts,” none of them good. Our troupe of 25-30 marchers were flipped off three times by passing drivers. I’ve walked 700 miles along Iowa’s highways and gravel roads and never had someone do that to me.

Also today, as we were taking a break on a gravel road, I walked a short distance across a field to talk with a young farmer who was watching us. I introduced myself, explained what we were doing. He made it clear he just wanted us gone and wasn’t interested in talking. As I was walking away, another man, presumably the guy’s father came charging out of the house, yelled at me to get off his property and said, “Just because you had a conversation doesn’t mean you’re invited to dinner.”

Marchers approach the first day’s destination in Deep River.

Finally, as Sarah Spain was setting up camp at the City Park in Deep River hours before the marchers would arrive, a neighbor parked a red jeep at the edge of the park. The jeep flew a large American flag alongside a Confederate flag, and two intimidating men sat in the jeep glaring at Sarah and the camp. That afternoon and again while we starting to dose off for the night in our tents, we heard several loud, close gun shots.

Iowa is my home, and has been since 1984. At times today, I didn’t recognize her. For the first time ever, I felt threatened in a land that has always been welcoming and friendly. What gives?

Perhaps the intensely partisan and acrimonious political climate has something to do with it. But as I discussed these incidents with other marchers, many who are Native American and Hispanic, it seemed likely that the hostility toward us was less about politics and more about race.

Donnielle Wanatee and other marchers collected more than a dozen bags of trash along the highway.

Yesterday, a Deep River resident posted a hateful, inflammatory video blasting Little Creek Camp, the Indigenous Iowa encampment where we started the march. The video is called “#IowaBeware” and is loaded with misinformation. It’s so lopsided it makes Fox News look fair and balanced. Check it out here and see what you think.

In preparing for our overnight visit to Deep River, Sarah and I had talked with the Mayor and another community leader, both very nice gentlemen, very accommodating. We honestly didn’t see this coming. And we expected and hoped that folks from the town would visit us at the park, share supper, engage in conversation. Our only visitor was a wonderful woman named Vicky from a nearby town, who heard about the march, called me and came by. Hers is the face and attitude of the Iowa I love.

Today’s experiences were an anomaly. The unpleasant people we met aren’t the norm. They aren’t “Iowa Nice,” and indeed we were greeted today by a lot more friendly waves than middle fingers. When we leave Deep River tomorrow, I’m ready to put the day’s negative energy behind us, and do my part to encourage dialogue, understanding and unity.

*******

On Monday’s Fallon Forum, Dr. Charles Goldman fills in. During the first two segments, Charles talks with David Johnson on market solutions to our healthcare issues. Then I’ll call and give an update from the Climate Justice Unity March. That’ll be followed by a report on Saturday’s “March for Science” and a discussion of Iowa’s voter ID law.

Please like & share:

Stepping Forward for Climate Unity

Dear Friends,

As we build to the big rally on April 29, I am all kinds of excited about the upcoming Climate Justice Unity March! We have 20 people planning to march each day, and if you’d like to participate for one day, or the entire week, there’s still time to sign up. Click here to sign up.

Within the past 24 hours, I’ve spoken with mayors of two of the small towns we will stay in. What they are most excited about is the opportunity for dialogue, as they agree emphatically that the level of political acrimony in our country today is beyond anything we’ve ever seen. So, the evening forum / dinner / music gathering will be just as important as the daily march.

Here’s the press release we sent out today.  The original release can be found here on the Bold Iowa website. Please share with others, and contact me if you have any questions or need information.

And yes, WE ARE LOOKING FOR DONATIONS! Email me at ed@fallonforum.com if you’re able to help.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 11, 2017
Contact: Ed Fallon, Bold Iowa: 515-238-6404, ed@boldiowa.org

Iowans to Embark on Eight-Day, Eighty-Mile March for Unity on Climate
Twenty-five marchers of diverse backgrounds to depart from Little Creek Camp on Earth Day (April 22), arrive in Des Moines on April 29 for People’s Climate Rally at State Capitol

Des Moines — A group of Iowans of diverse backgrounds will embark on an eight-day, eighty-mile Climate Justice Unity March later this month to help build a broader coalition organizing for action on climate, environmental and racial justice, and clean energy jobs — and build momentum leading up to the People’s Climate Movement Rally at the State Capitol in Des Moines on April 29.

WHAT: Climate Justice Unity March: 80 miles, 8 days
WHO: Bold Iowa and allies representing Native, African American, Latino and farming communities
WHEN: Saturday, April 22 at 9:00 a.m. through Saturday, April 29 at 1:00 p.m.
WHERE: Little Creek Camp (Millersburg) to Iowa State Capitol (Des Moines)
DETAILS: http://boldiowa.org/2017/03/09/climate-justice-unity-march

“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 the April 29 People’s Climate Movement Rally at the Capitol and forge new relationships essential to the work we must do going forward,” said Bold Iowa director Ed Fallon.

“The evening community gatherings will be as important as the daily marches,” added Fallon. “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.”

“Little Creek Camp is an embodiment of the change that needs to happen at all social and environmental levels,” said Christine Nobiss, a Plains Cree woman from Iowa City and founder of the camp and Indigenous Iowa. “So it’s fitting that the Climate Justice Unity March starts here and ends at the State Capitol, where so many important decisions are made.”

“Foul air, polluted water, diminished natural resources, rising temperatures, injustice – these things have dire consequences – directly or indirectly, to every living being on Earth,” said Cynthia Hunafa, Chief Operations Officer for Creative Visions, an organization in Des Moines’ central city that provides services to economically vulnerable communities. “This, of course, is regardless of nationality, gender, ethnicity, religion, economic status, political ideologies, or any other human-made divisive barrier.”

Climate Justice Unity March Route

  • Saturday, April 22: Little Creek Camp (near Millersburg) to Deep River (12 miles)
  • Sunday, April 23: Deep River to Montezuma (8.5 miles)
  • Monday, April 24: Montezuma to Searsboro (10 miles)
  • Tuesday, April 25: Searsboro to Sully (8.5 miles)
  • Wednesday, April 26: Sully to Reasnor (10 miles)
  • Thursday, April 27: Reasnor to Prairie City (12.2 miles)
  • Friday, April 28: Prairie City to Pleasant Hill (14 miles)
  • Saturday, April 29: Pleasant Hill to Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines (6 miles)

Organizational partners for the Climate Justice Unity March
Bold Iowa
Indigenous Iowa
Sage Sisters of Solidarity
League of United American Citizens (LULAC) Iowa
Creative Visions
Iowa Farmers Union
La Reina KDLF 1260 AM
Hola Iowa
Iowa Physicians for Social Responsibility
Great March for Climate Action

# # #

Please like & share: