Saturday, May 23, 2009

Assessing the Walk

As I start walking in Virginia and celebrate the completion of 400 miles, I'm in the mood to evaluate what I've been doing. Some days I wonder about the value of this adventure, especially given the problems and expenses of the motor home. So here go some thoughts:

I've come to see myself as a walking Poster Board, and the van as a moving Bulletin Board. As I walk along the highway people in hundreds of cars see me every day, and I notice that many of them read my shirt, WALKING for the CLIMATE. If even one or two out of a hundred actually think about what that means, awareness has been tweaked. And if a few every day talk with the others in the car - "Hey, what do you think that means?" - then my walk is worth it. 

I also notice people reading the signs on the van. On a humorous note, people think the handwritten signs in the windows are For Sale signs. I've actually had people turn their cars around and come back to look and ask me if I'm selling. Sometimes they then ask what "WAKE UP to the CLIMATE EMERGENCY" means, but usually not. I thought of changing the signs somehow so that people wouldn't come out of their way, but I decided that my message is worth a little inconvenience on their part. 

The other day in a park a group of children engaged me in a conversation about the signs on the van. When I started explaining global warming one girl sighed and said "School's out." (Indeed it is in Tennessee.) But several of them took my fliers and one of them said she'd love to walk like I do. I referred them to my children's blog

That blog might be the most successful of all my efforts. I love it that many of the children leave comments, and we've actually developed a blog relationship. One of them was inspired to start her own blog and recently posted a wonderful dream about the end of global warming. During the next couple of weeks I'm planning to post some suggestions for their summer holidays. 

This original blog and the Progress Map serve to keep my friends and supporters informed of my journey and I appreciate the comments that let me know that folks are checking in. I also try to keep the issues of the climate change crisis in front of us all so that we don't slip into living our daily lives as if nothing was going on - while the ice caps and the permafrost melt, temperatures rise, the oceans become more acidic, trees wilt and perish, and fauna and flora species teeter on the verge of extinction. Whew!! 

There seems to very little awareness around America, and little support for measures to address climate change. One big disappointment regarding my Walk is the almost total lack of interest on the part of the media. My friend, Tim, has contacted many newspapers, TV stations, and student and environmental groups, but with the exception of Tuscaloosa there hasn't been any interest. I think that if there were a few more people walking it would be more of an event, and I'm hoping that by the time I get to northern Virginia and certainly in Pennsylvania I'll have some company to shake things up.

I've been nurtured with interest and hospitality by Unitarian Universalists along the way, and most Sundays I attend services at a UU church. Usually I light a candle during 'joys and concerns' to mark the number of miles I've walked. I'm learning from my successes and my failures at generating good dialogue about Climate Change, and mostly I realize that I'm best at telling stories, and not so good at providing strong arguments for those who question the scientific basis of global warming. You tell people the kitchen's on fire and they want to talk about who caused it and if it's really going to affect the rest of the house. 

So I guess I'll keep on walking (and driving my behemoth as long as it holds up). Leave me a comment now and then, and join me if you can.

Good energy to you,



Bete said...

400 miles! It's nice to hear how you see your walk. I've also loved seeing the interchange you have with the kids on your children's blog.
It does amaze me the number of people who just don't seem concerned with signs that the planet is being so drastically affected by us.
Thank you for your thoughts and your wonderful pictures! What a lovely winding road.
Love you, Bete

Anonymous said...

It's been awhile but Patty and Bill are thinking of you as we enjoy our river and continually clean up discarded water bottles and beer cans.We know how much you take care of this earth, don't forget to take care of yourself.

Sofia said...

I enjoyed reading your evaluation of your walk so far. Too bad the media has not paid more attention to your walk. I wish the media would use their usual scare tactics to scare Americans out of some of their/our wasteful and harmful habits/lifestyles.

Zeke said...

great post! I look forward to walking with you some time this summer. There was a special on ABC last night called earth2100 that really laid out what's in store for us if we don't change our ways.