by Marisa Keller | photos by Zac Rudge
Yesterday’s theme was Reunion, as we all merged our personal stories into one walk. Today’s theme was Resistance, and we bore witness to the common threads of many struggles.
We started the morning in snowy Bristol with our own small struggle: should we welcome into our walk a mock coffin symbolizing the death of our future? Some spoke out strongly that they were walking for life, not death. Others felt that it was an appropriate symbol of mourning for the destruction the Earth has suffered. After listening to the group and calling for a show of hands for and against, our Action Council decided that we would walk with the coffin for part of the day. The folks who had volunteered as “community tenders” went to offer support to those who had expressed their discomfort at the idea.
Folks from Migrant Justice brought us delicious tamales for lunch, and spoke to our shared fight — estamos por la misma lucha, as one woman said. Another told us how her father and grandfather had grown beautiful watermelons in Tabasco, Mexico, until the oil company Pemex came in and started buying up much of the land, and polluting the rest. And so they came to the U.S. in search of a better life.
After lunch we walked the path of the new natural gas pipeline, which folks in Hinesburg and the surrounding area fought in a legal battle all the way to the Vermont Supreme Court, and with civil disobedience as well. Although ultimately they were unable to stop the construction, they are still resisting — an investigation is under way in response to their thorough documentation of myriad safety failures and violations of proper procedures.
We learned, too, of the effects of oil extraction and climate change in native communities from the Amazon to the Arctic, and the communities that are fighting the destruction of their sacred lands.
We also experienced resistance from others along our walk, from the men who stood in their yard with a Trump 2020 banner to the man who yelled, “The future is bright, pessimists!” and ordered us off of his property when one of us approached him to talk.
Mostly, though, drivers honked and waved as we went by, and the music of Brass Balagan welcomed us as our procession flowed down the long gentle hill into Hinesburg at the end of a 16-mile (or was it 17-mile? no one seemed to be sure) day.
What follows are a few reflections from an assortment of walkers, young and old, on their experience of the walk — special moments, general reflections, and hopes.
Walk Journal, Day 2
“I’m thinking about how important song is to movement and to activism. I am also inspired by the age diversity in this walk. Surrounded by youth activism lately I am remembering the importance of learning and supporting those who have been fighting this fight for a long time.”
“Everything felt very communal. Lots of optimism. And it was nice to see support from people driving by.”
“The extraordinary speed with which we have become ‘one’ is truly awe inspiring. So, so grateful to all.”
If people could listen
(Which I know they can)
If people were kind
(Which I know they can be)
Then the air would be clean
People would be safe
Water could flow freely
And no blisters would have cursed the
Feet of those who skip work and school
We walk together
Silently, sometimes, and loudly
The clouds cover our journey and follow us
And then the sun comes out
And we see the sky
And the trees and mountains and valleys
That may crumble and fall
But not on my watch
[excerpt of longer poem]