"I SHOWED UP TO SUPPORT AN ISSUE I CARE ABOUT. I LEFT REFUELED IN MY PURSUIT OF A BETTER FUTURE FOR THE PLANET AND MY FELLOW HUMANS." - Heather McDougall, Bogobrush co-founder and ceo
On April 29th, my husband David and I stepped into the Mall in Washington D.C. for our first ever D.C. march. We had driven from Detroit to march with more than 200,000 other Americans in the People's Climate March. It was the hottest April 29th on record in D.C. - over 90 degress F - and still we all marched, almost further empowered by the unordinary heat, from the Capitol Building, to the White House and then to the rally at the Washington Monument.
When I reflect on that day, my mind floods with ideas for continuing the ripple effect of the march. In the coming weeks and months, I'll work on bringing those ideas to life. My first step is this post to share my experience with you, including: the march, the rally for climate justice, the reminders of my passion and how honored I am to connect with you. Read it all or scroll to pick and choose. :)
The organizers created a nifty line-up guide structured for us to line up with a theme group of our choice. Despite their encouragement to not worry about a perfect fit, I still wondered, "Where do I belong? I'm a woman, but do I belong in the "Creators of Sanctuary" group? What about Dave? Or, maybe I'm a health community member because of Bogobrush and because I teach yoga. Or am I better fit for the general environmental activist group?"
Before the march kicked off, we surveyed the scene by starting at the end of the lineup. The experienced D.C. marchers were obvious with signs rigged up perfectly on poles and backpacks and parachutes with messaging visible from a birds-eye view.
We first nestled into the Keepers of Faith group. We were surrounded by every religion you can think of: Buddhist, Lutheran, Unitarian, Hindu, Islam, Episcopal, Agnostic, and more. Everyone's message was the same: We are stewards of God's creation and must rise to the occasion to protect and honor it. We spent a bit of time with the Defenders of Truth, but as we started to march the groups merged and we saw that the organizers were right: it really didn't matter who surrounded us as long as we showed up.
"WE ARE STEWARDS OF EARTH - GOD'S CREATION - AND WE MUST RISE TO THE OCCASION TO PROTECT AND HONOR IT." - Keeper's of Faith
In the final blocks of the march, we found ourselves behind a group carrying a banner that stretched across the entire road. Their energy was vibrant, their chants were sincere, and their ethnicity diverse. When we reached the end, we walked to the front of the banner and read, "Minnesotans for Climate Justice." This seemed serendipitous since Minnesota is where David and I went to school, got married, and started our adult life together. <3 Aww shucks. :)
Keeper's of Faith marchers
Minnesotans for Climate Justice
People from all walks of life, career, age, and ethnicity were on the street together. No matter the perspective, the goal for this march was clear: Climate Justice.
The reality of climate change is that it disproportionately affects people in poverty and developing nations more than people in wealth and developed nations. Why? Because wealth and development shields people from the immediate affects of a changing climate. For instance, in America, companies can still produce or import food, and ensure access to water and energy regardless of global weather. In poor communities and developing nations, however, the populations are directly impacted by drought and severe weather.
CLIMATE CHANGE IS THE NEW COLONIALISM
Unfortunately, the problem is made worse because often times companies in developed nations exploit the people and land of poor nations in order to deliver their products to their own wealthy countries. This problem has led many people to suggest that "climate change is the new colonialism."
Rally at the Washington Monument
Rather than choose speakers who are flashy celebrities, organizers of this rally intentionally chose leaders of grassroots movements and organizations around the world. Their perspectives were broad, but my takeaway is simple:
The government isn't always going to prioritize the climate, and most corporations won't prioritize the climate unless it makes economic sense. While these can be a depressing thoughts, I think they're also empowering. They are evidence that, at least in America, people are power and we are capable of unbound influence.
...PEOPLE ARE POWER, AND WE ARE CAPABLE OF UNBOUND INFLUENCE.
After the march, I was eating food truck tacos under the shade of a giant tree when I met a lady who was marching that day for her grandchildren. I learned that she, as a teenager, witnessed first-hand the power of the people while protesting during the Migrant Worker Protests in California in the 1960s. At that time, leader Cesar Chavez helped organize a nationwide boycott of California grapes to put economic pressure on the grape producers to change their practices with the migrant workers. Within weeks, the producers agreed to listen to the workers demands. After five years, the strike resulted in a massive victory and collective bargaining agreement for the workers.
Climate is a massive issue. It's more than fossil fuels, more than CO2 or Methane emissions, and more than any one policy, person, or product. It's the connection between environment and humanity, and between local and global efforts. This can seem daunting at times, but this rally reminded me that it's these connections that inspire me.
"YOU CAN'T BE AN ENVIRONMENTALIST WITHOUT BEING A HUMANITARIAN" - Sahel, band at rally
These are the connections behind our creation of Bogobrush: a product that considers the environment and contributes to social issues. A product that gives me (and you) a choice, a way to contribute to progress.
Bogobrushers, I am honored to connect with you - even if remotely through a toothbrush - and work together in this critical effort for fighting for our climate, for humanity, for our Mother Earth. Let's keep on rocking it, team. We'll get there together!
Above: The head of the march during line-up. Below: fellow-protesters