What do you do if you can’t make it to NYC for a huge Climate Change march, but want to feel connected to the cause and do your part to raise your voice? Go local!
On a beautiful day in early September, Judith Nemes and I headed downtown on our bikes to join other Temple Sholom members for the Climate Change march and rally as it made an important stop in Chicago. Months earlier, a group of dedicated environmentalists from all over the country had decided to walk across much of the United States from Los Angeles to New York City in time for the United Nations meeting to discuss climate change. By walking across the country they hoped to raise awareness along the way and maybe convince others to join in their walk.
Temple Sholom members joined many from the Chicagoland area in this mini-march. We met at Grant Park near Buckingham Fountain and walked through downtown to Daley Plaza with our signs. One memorable marcher we met was Jimmy Betts, program director and a marcher facilitator, who told us about the amazing rainbow of people who gathered for this march. We walked with him for a while en route to Daley Plaza and he told great stories about the hospitality marchers received across the country. Strangers who shared the same values about saving our planet opened their homes and fed them as they passed through their towns and cities to spread their message of hope and need for action to reverse climate change.
At Daley Plaza we heard from local politicians and environmentalists, such as Mike Nowak, who spoke about the urgent need for us to act locally to address environmental degradation and climate change. Naomi Davis, founder of Blacks in Green, was another impassioned speaker who advocated the need for a green economy in Chicago. It would create opportunities for new jobs in clean energy and other areas.
What struck me most about these speeches was the overarching message that we all have our own Sphere of Influence. We all have the power to effect change immediately around us. While climate change is a huge problem that has no boundaries, each of us has the ability to make changes in our own lives and impact those around us. It made me think of the saying about how a butterfly fluttering its wings in South America eventually impacts weather patterns in the U.S. We’re already applying this to actionable endeavors at Temple Sholom. I see the potential for how our composting can lead to congregants composting at home and then in their businesses, thereby reducing landfill waste. By modeling energy saving measures at Temple Sholom, perhaps members will strive to save energy at home and work and reduce their carbon footprint.
We can’t leave it up to the United Nations to solve climate change alone. It takes each of us making a concerted effort to alter our own behaviors and influence those around us. Climate change marches are a call to action because they inspire us to be mindful every day of the positive impact we can all have on our planet, and for that I say: MARCH ON!