My days in NYC were a blur of activity usually starting at 6am and often ending as late a 2am after a late evening dinner, beer and debrief with an ever-changing mix of Oregon and People’s Climate Train friends. Here’s a few day-by-day highlights:
See posts and pictures:
Thu 9/18 arrived at Penn Station
– Wonderful time singing in the station while we were waiting for our checked bags. Modified lyrics were composed by talented folks on the train for “People get ready, there’s a train a comin’…” Audio and video versions have been posted. Let me know if you need help finding them…
– After leaving Penn Station, a group of us trudged over a mile through the Manhattan streets to the Community UCC apartments and then up 4 flights of stairs with our bags. I slept well that night!!
Fri 9/19 Rainforest Action Network and Global Climate Convergence
– Attended presentations by RAN, Pledge of Resistance organizers, many that we met (or saw on video) at the Portland training last year, Scott Parkin, Todd Zimmer, Amanda Starbuck, and Adam (Ahmed). They will be kicking off a new project, “Change the Course”, at two-day Climate Leadership Summits including one coming up in November in Portland:
– 7pm opening Plenary for GCC
Sat 9/20 Global Climate Convergence workshops
– Attended GCC workshops that drove home the connection between the many social justice challenges of our times. To be most effective as climate activists, we need to act in solidarity with issues of indigenous peoples, those in poverty, those without health care, those without adequate shelter, food and water – these issues social injustice have the same root causes as climate change. We need basic changes to our socio-economic systems…
– Closing Plenary for GCC
Sun 9/21 People’s ClimateMarch
– Met up with People’s Climate Train contingent at 65th & Central Park West (the Sheep Meadow) to connect with them before the train and then walked to 81st & CPW to gather with Oregon contingent. Those are some very long blocks – I think they were 2-3 times longer than standard blocks…it took quite a while to get to the Oregon meeting place.
– There were so many thousands of people lined up along CPW from about 59th to about 87th that the crowd stretched 2-3 blocks west of CPW at many of the intersections. Although the march started at 11:30, it was after 2pm by the time the people in the blocks ahead of us were able to trickle on CPW from the side streets. It was 3pm by the time the Oregon contingent made it to the march starting place in Columbus Circle.
– The moment of silence at 12:58pm was heart-touching for me in a powerful and overwhelming way. As coordinated by the organizers, we grasped hands above our heads and thousands of us fell silent for about a minute – so amazing and such a sense of connection. We felt before we heard a dull roar far in the distance that quickly moving toward us as the moment of silence ended and cheers erupted first from the beginning of the march and then flowing like a wave to those of us a couple of miles away at the end.
– There were so many of us, 400,000 according to revised estimates based on expert aerial counts that the organizers agreed to end the march to allow NYC traffic to resume travel across the march route.
Mon 9/22 Flood Wall Street
– Many of us left the apartment early and made it to the gathering place for the Flood Wall Street action, the World War 2 memorial, by 8am enjoying coffee, bagels, songs, directions from organizers, and several speakers amplified occupy-style by members of the crowd repeating the words loudly for those behind them in the crowd. It took 2-3 and sometimes 4 “echos” to carry the words to the outside edges of the crowd.
– We flooded into the financial district and blocked Broadway for the rest of the day. The group was blocked from flooding onto Wall Street first directly from Broadway and then was blocked from finding a route around the police blockade by more police, many with helmets and visors.
– Our group left about 30 minutes before police moved in and arrested over 100 of those participating. I have mixed feelings about leaving before the arrest. I feel like I should have stayed in solidarity with those who were arrested but am grateful not to have an additional arrest while still on probation and the freedom to leave for Europe this week.
Tue 9/23 Church Center for the United Nations
– Several of us attended an international panel conversation in the morning at the New School, “Toward Living Economies 1: Systems Alternatives”
– Just before noon, after walking the streets along the perimeter of the United Nations complex of buildings, and stopping at several police barricades to gain entrance to events at the Church Center; I was finally allowed to pass through toward the United Nations headquarters. I was able to enter the Church Center across the street but entrance into the UN headquarters itself was tightly controlled by a barricade of police vehicles and checkpoints. They were only allowing officials who had been pre-screen and issued special entry passes. One of those attending sessions at the Church Center was challenged by security staff and questioned by 3 officers while I was nearby.
– I attended a great international Fast For The Climate gathering, and a couple of Climate Justice Alliance presentations by indigenous social justice leaders.
Wed 9/24 Wednesday was the last day at the UU apartments. It was a low key day with Charles, Jean and Tom. I re-packed my bags and went online to book Airbnb lodging for October 4-11 in Walthamstow outside of London and train/transit tickets from Southampton to Walthamstow.
Thu-Fri 9/25-26 I spent Thursday and Friday night at Peter and Susan Stand’s place in The Bronx. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing and learning about The Bronx and sharing family time with their grandchildren. Peter and Susan are lifetime social justice advocates who shared many stories about the challenges of bringing affordable housing, healthcare and safe neighborhoods to The Bronx. Thanks very much to them and to Claudia and Marilyn!!!
Saturday 9/27 With help from Peter, I boarded train #1 from The Bronx to Columbus Circle in Manhattan. I was just in time to join hundreds of people going through security and boarding check-in before filing through long lines and finally into gangways leading onto the Queen Mary 2. We were delayed leaving Port 88 on the Hudson until about 7pm. I stayed on the top deck with about 100 travelers watching New York recede into the distance as we passed the Statue of Liberty and headed into the open sea.