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Bobby and I went to the climate rally today that was held in Vermont's capital city of Montpelier. Oh, it was tempting to try to go to DC again! But I decided against it. I have a lot going on right now, and I always try to remember the advice I read when reigniting my political activism that one has to take care of oneself ... so I kept it local this time.

First, we needed a sign. I have to admit that making the sign is part of the fun of going to marches and rallies. It is an excuse to play with paint on a larger-than-usual scale. Also, I am the daughter of a typesetter, so the love of lettering flows alongside the red in my blood. I procrastinated finding cardboard until Thursday, when I adopted a rather battered-looking box that had held copy paper in the teacher room at school. I was walking out of the building with it when Kelley, one of our paras who also coordinates the 8th-grade fundraisers for their DC trip, asked me if I was looking for good cardboard. I really wasn't--I was happy with my battered little box--but I can never turn down the opportunity to look at potentially useful stuff. Yes, even cardboard.

Turns out that the pizza kits the students had sold for their last fundraiser had been delivered that day on three cardboard pallets: think wood pallets but made out of cardboard. Truly, I never knew such a thing existed! They were sturdy, shockingly light, and ginormous. I had no idea what I'd do with it, but I took one because it seemed wrong to let them go to waste. Seriously, if the other two are still there on Monday? I'm going to hide them somewhere because I know I will find something to do with them at a later date.

So Thursday night, Bobby and I plotted and planned with our shabby box and ginormous cardboard pallet. We were fussing with the pallet and realized that, if each of us tucked an arm inside the "skids" on the base, it would be perfect as a two-person sign. I already knew the message I wanted to use on my sign, which was something I'd seen at the Women's March and loved. Bobby wanted space enough for a printout from Protect Our Winters, an organization he supports for climate activism in the snow-sports community.

I did the lettering, and Bobby and I worked together on the painting Thursday and late into Friday night (with a few final touch-ups this morning) to produce the Ginormous Sign Of Justice.

Sign for the People's Climate March, Montpelier

I love the message because those who dismiss climate change tend to be those of the generation that will still die, most likely, of old age and age-related illnesses. Bobby and I are of the generation that will begin to likely see the first disastrous, widespread impacts of climate change. It is common wisdom that people act in the best interests of their children and grandchildren, but this doesn't seem to be the case for many in our parents' generation, who enjoyed a system built by their parents, economic prosperity, and cheap energy, then ripped the rug out from under their children and did jack shit to stop the ravages of environmental devastation because they preferred the big houses and cars and things they could get for the price of our futures.

Yes, I am angry about this.

It was a beautiful day, warm although cloudy and windy, which made it a little cool at times. Montpelier was so overrun during the Women's March that they had to close the highway exits because so many people were trying to get into the city (which is really more like a large town by U.S. standards). I think they learned their lesson and coordinated off-site parking and shuttle buses this time. We walked onto the lawn of the Vermont Statehouse right as the emcee was introducing the first musical act. Perfect timing!

I wish there had been an actual march--what can I say, I like walking in the streets and yelling things!--but it was a beautiful day to sit in the grass and listen to speakers on topics ranging from migrant workers' rights to Black Lives Matter to women's rights, and hear how it all ties back into that essential issue of climate justice. When the current disaster was elected president, I read and took the advice to focus on primarily one or two issues; I chose climate and poverty. One of the speakers quoted Van Jones that environmental justice, economic justice, and racial justice are all inexorably linked, and you can't have one without addressing them all. Several speakers addressed this link, and while I was aware, of course, that the poor and disadvantaged are more likely to suffer from the effects of climate change (as they suffer inordinately from everything), some of the statistics were astounding.

Here's what the Statehouse lawn looked like when we arrived.

People's Climate March, Montpelier


Early on, these people wandered past with a beautiful coordinated display advocating for the oceans.

People's Climate March, Montpelier


I loved this woman's sign, which reads, "It's not easy being green but it's better than being dead!" It's one of the frustrations when talking to people (mostly family, since I am not inclined to proselytize) about positive changes for the environment and getting blow-back because it requires some minor inconvenience (like, omg, having a second trashcan to put recycling in) or relinquishing a status symbol (like not using an enormous SUV as a means of conveyance for a two-person household). But again, these are usually people who will get to die of old age so ...

Me and Bobby.

Bobby and Me at the People's Climate March, Montpelier


And just me, the grass, and my ginormous sign.

People's Climate March, Montpelier


A lot of people stopped to take pictures of the sign. A few were fascinated by its construction, so it seems I am not the only one who has never seen a cardboard pallet before. One guy, walking behind us back to the bus, explain to his young son how corrugated cardboard worked, and how the sign functioned as "cardboard for cardboard" by making it stronger, which I thought was adorable.

(There was a pair of women who came over, fascinated by the sign, and immediately glommed onto Bobby--which I get because he's a good-looking dude!--and cooed, "Oh that's so cool! Are you an engineer?" The possibility that I might have been an engineer never crossed their minds! Of course, women aren't engineers! Silly me. As a matter of fact, neither of us are engineers or remotely skilled in that area, but I--not Bobby--found and brought home the cool cardboard pallet that they were admiring, so I think that gives me slightly more points in that area than he gets.)

As the rally entered its final hour, our lone Vermont Congressman Peter Welch spoke, then our super-progressive, ponytailed Lieutenant Governor David Zuckerman spoke. (In between was an impassioned, incredible young woman from Brattleboro who spoke on the intersection of climate, race, and poverty that I mentioned above, but I don't remember her name.) Last to speak was none other than Bernie Sanders!

I'd wondered if he would make an appearance today because he showed up unannounced at the Women's March in Montpelier. This time, his presence was announced a few days before the rally. It was inspiring to hear him speak, as always, and this was the first time for both of us to hear him speak live.

Bernie Sanders Speaks at the People's Climate March, Montpelier


Also, the POW banner appeared on the Statehouse steps around this time, which made Bobby super excited!

After Bernie spoke, it was back on the bus to the satellite lot. We were much more crowded this time, so Bobby and I managed to cram into a seat with the ginormous sign. (I had to squat on the seat, and he held on to me to keep me from falling over when the bus turned and stopped; the short ride felt rather long in that position!)

We were seeing the Upright Citizens' Brigade tonight, so rather than return home, we grabbed dinner in Hardwick at Positive Pie and arrived at Lyndon State University a half-hour before the show started. At Positive Pie, we ended up sitting next to a pair of rad older ladies who chatted with us the whole time and offered us salad (and we offered them pizza!)

I just looked for numbers for the Montpelier rally today, but they don't seem to have been published yet.
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