Walk The Walk

Meet a climate marcher

This weekend, the People’s Climate March made history as one of the largest demonstrations of its kind. Organizers estimate that more than 311,000 individuals showed up from all corners of the world to take to the streets of New York City. Their demands ranged from stopping fracking to divesting from fossil fuels to seeking environmental justice to enabling disaster preparedness. But they all agreed on one thing: We’ve got big climate problems, yo — and they need solving. Together, their perspectives converged into one very, very loud voice.

For those who couldn’t make it in person but were there in spirit, here’s a sampling of who you might have seen marching next to you. (All photos by Samantha Larson)

Kathryn Leuch – Manila, Phillipines

“Right now in the streets of Manila, 25 percent of our city is flooded by a super typhoon. It’s unfortunate that every time a typhoon comes, the people who die become a mere statistic.”

Kimberly Shepherd – Harlan County, Kentucky

“My family has been in coal mining since the 30s. We want a just transition away from coal mining. I’m here because I don’t want my five-and-a-half-year-old daughter to have to fight.”

Mariella Treleven – Madison, Wisconsin

“We’re marching against the Enbridge pipeline. Everyone’s focused on Keystone, but Enbridge is a way for them to still get their tar sands. We need to bring attention to both this and keystone.”

Iya’Faloa Omoba – Jackson, Mississippi

“I’m here because I’m concerned about the economy, and about health issues. We don’t have jobs for the majority of people in Jackson. And we have the highest obesity rates in the country.”

Alexis Smallwood – Far Rockaway, New York

“I’m marching for policy and green infrastructure to come to Far Rockaway. I couldn’t stay at my house for a year and six months after Sandy. Once I came back, I felt like things needed to change.”

Desmond Disa – Durban, South Africa

“Back home in South Africa they’re carving up the ocean, carving up sensitive areas for mining and fracking. I’m here to say we don’t want that.”

Isso Nihmei – Vanuatu, Pacific Islands

“Sea level rise is one of the biggest problems in the Pacific Islands. I’m scared about where we’re going to be in the next 25 years.”

Teresa Anderson – United Kingdom

“I work for Actionaid, an international development agency to help communities become more resilient to climate change. I’m worried about the UN’s new global alliance for “smart” agriculture. I think lots of problematic organizations have jumped on the bandwagon in order to break into new markets — that the good organizations that are part of it are just greenwashing the bad stuff.”

Harjeeta Singh – Delhi, India

“We have been seeing that the impacts of climate change on the ground are getting more intense. You don’t even get time to recover from the previous disaster before the next one hits you.”

Mariah Rose Sampson (left) and Kathy Sampson-Kruse (mother and daughter) – Walla Walla Tribe of the Confederated Tribes of Umatilla, Oregon

Kathy: “They continue to pollute our beautiful Columbia River.”
Mariah: “When this is over, I want to take the march home, locally.”
Kathy: “This struggle is going to continue for a long time, and we must continue to rise up.”

Dukota Alcantara – Camacho, Guam

“We have a really interesting relationship with the U.S. military, because they’re using our land, they’re using our rights. Lots of people don’t even know that we’re a U.S. colony. They’re using our lands as striking practice, they’re using our lands as dumping grounds. There are over 100 toxic dump sites on our island.”

Barbara Daniels – Richwood, West Virginia

“In West Virginia there’s fracking and mountaintop removal everywhere you turn. We’re destroying the environment for money.”

Chokyi – Tibet

“Tibet is often called the Third Pole. It is home to 46,000 glaciers. There is also a lot of permafrost in Tibet. But the temperature is rising in Tibet twice as fast as the rest of the world.”

Lisa Kline and Matt Haasch – Newburgh, New York

“Our home flooded in both Irene and in Sandy. We got hit with $50,000 worth of damage.”

Ann MacLeod – Lecanto, Florida

“I’d like to have a carbon tax.”

Deborah Payne – Kentucky

“Climate change is one of the biggest threats to health and humanity.”

Miriam Dillard, Jacksonville, Florida

“Florida is especially at risk for climate change. The highest point in the state is 277 feet.”

Lenna Harris – New York, New York

“Some people have criticized the march for not having specific demands. But I like that, because it means that people don’t feel excluded or alienated. And it really is that broad. It’s really about everything. This isn’t a fringe movement anymore; normal people care.”

Sophie Ackoff – Hudson, New York

“I’m with the Young Farmers Coalition. We brought a bus of young farmers down from Hudson because we think farmers have a large role to play in climate mitigation.”

Victoria Thoman and Milena Gonzalez – Washington, D.C.

Milena: “Unicorns don’t exist. Climate change does. Get your head out of the sand.”
Victoria: “Extinction is forever.”

Chistina Doerr – Columbia, Missouri

“I thought people were paying attention. But we’re decades behind.”

Arturo Dominguez – Bogota, Colombia

“I’m currently a physicist in the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab. Fusion is the energy form of the sun and the stars. We also want to do it on earth. It’s still decades away, but it’ll be a revolution; it’s inexhaustible, and it’s got no long term radioactive waste.”

Charles Derber – Boston, Massachusetts

“I’ve been studying social movements for years — I’m a professor of sociology at Boston College. I think the most important thing to know about this march is the idea of convergence. This is a systemic problem; It’s really just an accident that climate change got tagged as an environmental issue. A lot of people are here marching for different reasons. This is the first real movement that’s beginning to bring it all back together again. This is the thing we’ve been waiting for for a really long time.”

Lisa Renstrom and Chuck Collins – Boston, Massachusetts

“We’re the co-chairs of the individual effort of Divest Invest. The student movement is leading the way in divesting from fossil fuels. We’d like to see more inviduals doing it, too.”

Wen Stephenson and Grace Stephenson – Massachusetts

“She watched Disruption and her mom asked her how it made her feel. This is what she said.”

Peter Bronson – Queens, New York

“I’m with Veterans for Peace. I served in the Korean War. We’re here to protest the amount of oil and the military contributions to the global warming crisis.”

Nandini Ramesh – New York, New York

“I’m a Ph.D. student in oceanography at Columbia. I’m well aware of the evidence that sea level is rising and the ocean is acidifying, and I want that to be heard.”

Kimberly Foley

“I started walking from L.A. on March 1 with the Great March for Climate Action. We made it to Ohio and then took the bus. But this is just a detour: we’ll be continuing on from Ohio, making it to D.C. on November 1. We’re looking for more people to join us.”

Peter McCullough – Baltimore, Maryland

“I’m an astrophysicist. I thought about writing ‘no solar equals no life,’ but this was simpler.”

Braden Elliott – Missouri

“I’m a Ph.D. student in ecology at Dartmouth. I’m marching because I think the future needs to be handled differently than the present.”

Michele Fox – New York, New York

“Governor Cuomo wants to allow fracking in the southern tier of New York. I don’t think that should happen.”

Shilpa Narayan – Brooklyn, New York

“I’m marching for the honey bees. Climate change has created colony collapse disorder. Affected colonies lose upwards of 50 percent of their bees.”