This was my first and I trust not last preparation for action on behalf of our hurting planet, indigenous brothers and sisters, and our children and grandchildren. Around 60 people of all ages and from many states gathered at Mt. Vernon Place United Methodist Church last night. Enthusiastic, youthful and experienced leaders got us telling our stories and walked us through our day of planned protest.
I met a young woman who’d driven 30 hours with three friends from Denver, would be sleeping in a church basement (at $4 per night) this weekend and then driving back. An Environmental Studies PhD student recovering from jellyfish stings had taken the MARC train from Delaware. I could identify with many of my age — Quakers, Presbyterians, Mennonites, Methodists, Catholics concerned for God’s creation. One man said he didn’t participate in civil rights demonstrations or anti-war protests like he wished he had, but now was glad to stand up and sit-in against the destruction of the planet. Author Bill McKibben and Ms. Lightning from the Tar Sands area of Canada were among those who gave us encouragement.
This Tar Sands Action started last Saturday and continues each day until September 3. Monday is the official day for religious communities, but today (Friday) is the day I am free to be there. I appreciate the prayers and encouragement from family and friends, especially my sister Joyce Ribbens Campbell in Guinea, West Africa.
Each of us has a “buddy” for today. Mine is Gwyn of DC Sierra Club. She’ll be next to me holding the lower banner if you see the photos on the news or website.
We’ll be meeting at 10 a.m. at Lafayette Park where we can use the bathroom one last time. At 10:40 we’ll line up in the order we practiced last night, and at 11 will walk slowly and calmly to the area in front of the White House between the lampposts. When we and the two large banners are in place, many photographs will be taken and we will probably do some chanting in unison (practiced three chants last night). After an hour or so, the park police will begin arresting (handcuffing) people one by one. We’ll be taken in “paddy wagons” to Anacostia where we’ll need to fill out forms and pay $100 (called “post and forfeit”). Our trainers will be there to direct us to the nearby Metro station.