Its 4am or so. I'm sleeping on the floor in the apartment of a delightful 91 year old woman In an assisted living facility as part of the MIH (marchers in homes) program. The first four nights have been spent inside 2 churches, camping at a beautiful recreation area and now in Fontana (I think - it's hard to keep track) with MIH.
Day one: Amazing kickoff at the Port of LA next to the toxic petrol refineries in East LA with many wonderful environmental organizations represented and maybe 1000 people. It was fabulous! It may turn out to be the most dramatic and challenging day of our 246. LA got hit (blessedly after the kickoff) by the biggest deluge I've ever been in, and we walked through it for 20 miles until way after dark. The streets we crossed were rivers up to our shins, two people got hypothermia and had to be rescued, including a sweet kid who was helping pull a big polar bear statue - a kickoff mascot provided by 350.org I think. No serious casualties - thank the 'Fairy Queen.' It was a trial for sure and we"re still trying to dry out. What a start!
The next night one of the kickoff rally speakers, an eloquent and charismatic Black preacher from East LA who was part of a panel on racism we heard from at the church where we stayed, told us in the most passionate terms, how significant it was that we had moved our departure and kickoff from Santa Monica (affluent white) to Wilmington (very poor). Powerful!
We marched through LA's skid row with homeless hovels on both sides if the streets and through the very poorest neighborhoods. They are the forgotten and ignored. Because of the refineries, the cancer rate is off the charts and the children suffer from asthma and come to school with nosebleeds and headaches. We marchers had no idea until later what a significant gesture we made walking where we did.
A word about this rag tag bunch of passionate, dedicated people: About 40 of us started out, accompanied by some day marchers. Many if us are from Iowa, but one Canadian and perhaps a dozen other states. Our numbers will shift and swell as we go. This traveling community started coming together and bonding immediately at the 2 prior days of training, which was excellent. Several professionals donated their time to work with us on non-violent communication, racism in social justice work, peer support techniques, and collaborative problem solving. There have been many arduous meetings to organize ourselves and figure out the logistical challenges of moving ourselves, shopping and preparing our own food (which I'm happy to say is simple but healthy), and creating work teams to meet our needs and accomplish our mission. Last night we spoke to a group of perhaps 35 interfaith people at a church, and it felt coherent and inspiring - especially to us.
There is already more to tell than I possibly can. There us no place I'd rather be and nothing I'd rather be doing. I'm grateful and happy! Did I mention that we are having lot of fun together!?
My body is achy but I'm doing well. Sore feet, knees, calves, and hips. Everybody hurts. Thanks to my careful preparation, I don't have any blisters, though many do We are finding our special companions amongst ourselves, and also our cohesiveness. At the moment we range from 20 to 73 and are almost l white. We hope that changes.
David Thoreson, from Iowa, who has a photo exhibit at UI about his sailing trips through the arctic is with us. He'll be in Iowa City in April. GO HEAR HIM!
There is a document film-maker and crew following us for a while, making a film entitled, "The Race to Save the World." Our March and other efforts will be woven together. I am one of 6 people they chose to highlight, so I wore a mike for 2 days and was interviewed. They're gone now, but will catch up with us intermittently along the way.
It's time to get up. We are marching 20 miles again today and after having a hard time locating a ace for us to stay, we just heard last night that we'll be at a Mosque. How wonderful is that!
Thanks to all of you for your amazing support and love. So very much.
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