Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Marching to save the planet

"Gandhi didn't fast for 21 days and take a day off. To me you have to commit yourself to the sacrifice, because it's so important. Even if people don't agree, they appreciate commitment." — Ed Fallon, Organizer of the Great March for Climate Action

YESTERDAY, I joined the Great March for Climate Action for a walk in Des Moines. Facebook friend Ryan Hirl hipped me to the fact that it was happening. I appreciated knowing because as I told him, I don't want to be one of those people (like Rosanna Rosanna Danna's dad used to tell her — SNL and Gilda Radner fans, you know what I'm referencing) who rant and complain, but don't actually get off their keisters and do something. So thanks Ryan. He and his sister marched, too.

Can one extra person make any difference? I got a blister, if that counts. I actually saw my yellow sign go walking past for about a second on a WOI Channel 5 News news clip. 

Below is a news story from the Des Moines Register. I'm embarrassed to say, because I consider Ed Fallon a friend, that I didn't realize until yesterday that he created this march!! I knew he was participating, but I didn't know it was his brainchild! 

Go to climatemarch.org to learn more.







Ed Fallon's climate-change awareness trek reaches Iowa
August 8, 2014
by Mike Kilen

Ed Fallon is walking 3,000 miles across America with a cherished walking stick and a group of people who smell vaguely of the fields around them.

They camp in tents every night, shower sporadically, and walk on roads through hail and rain, dust and wind. They keep walking and walking, not without the purpose of Forrest Gump, but with some of the same motivations — to churn away at grief. Theirs is for the planet and what they view as its death by climate change.

It is an adventure, to be sure. While some try to tackle the Appalachian Trail to find or test themselves, to discover nature or reacquaint themselves with it, Fallon's adventure is of another sort. To do something about that grief.

"This is tough, the toughest thing I've done in my life" said Fallon, 56, walking on a gravel road outside Cumberland, Ia., in the fifth month of the journey he organized called the Great Climate March for Climate Action. "It's tougher than running for governor."

The physical challenge for the former state legislator and Des Moines radio talk show host is tough, each day rising before the sun and setting off on feet he said will never be the same. For so long they've ached from walking an average of 15 miles in a day. He walks with a bad back and little sleep. He has lost 24 pounds and he was already rail thin.

Getting across his message has been tough. He hears from many who don't believe that humans are the cause of climate change.

The finances are tough. "We are in our 10th financial crisis," he chuckles.

The disappointments are tough. His original vision — marching with 1,000 souls from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. — quickly turned into a core group of a couple dozen and only six who have walked every step, including himself.

So, yes, he's asked himself, like most adventurers, what in the world he has done to put himself here. He quickly finds an answer.

"I'm really concerned about the future of our planet," he said. "We better get serious. Immediately."

And then he tells about his walking stick, one that people in Des Moines may see Monday if they join his marchers from 13th and Locust streets to the Iowa State Capitol. He had it made by monks at New Melleray Abbey, a monastery south of Dubuque, in 2006.

When his father died in 2008 he had the same woodworking monks make the casket.

Before he died, Ed Fallon interviewed Ed Fallon Sr. about his life. He was a career military man who wanted to tell his son about World War II and how Americans ignored the tragedy unfolding for Jews in Nazi Germany. Until Pearl Harbor made them pay attention, they denied it was happening.

"I see this in a similar way. We are ignoring the problem and I hope and pray we take action before it's too late," Ed Jr. said.

His father was adventurous and wanted to do what was right for his country, he said.
"This stick connects me to him."

David Osterburg, who served with Fallon in the Iowa Legislature and is founder of the Iowa Policy Proj­ect, walked at his side and has since Omaha. He was asked what can be done to help reverse climate change.

He listed off tax credits for solar energy, making homes and businesses more energy efficient and closing coal plants. Fallon added that supporting the growth of sus­tainable agriculture would help lower the carbon footprint and, for a minute, the two rambled in a policy discussion like the old days.

But most of the people marching on this day are those who have left behind what they do and joined from all parts of the country.

"We're talking about saving the planet," said Lala Palazzolo of Michigan. "Leave my upholstery business? No problem."

There are people like Miriam Kashia, 71, of North Liberty who have walked every step of the way, and people like Chris Ververis of Boulder, Colo., who have had Iowa farmers reach down from their tractors to hand him $20. One man told him it was an "Obama hoax," this whole climate change thing, but Ververis said that after he talked to him about his spiritual call to care for creation, the man called back to offer his barnyard for camping.

Fallon has made such connections often, he said. He does it through stories — of his father, of the mayors in little towns who have marched into their campground bearing food, or the 200 people who showed up in Denver.

He tells them why he doesn't just take a day off.

"Gandhi didn't fast for 21 days and take a day off," he said. "To me you have to commit yourself to the sacrifice, because it's so important. Even if people don't agree, they appreciate commitment."

Fallon attracted 15 wood ticks in one day, picked up $30 in change on roadsides across America and counted 6,000 road kills. But that's just fun numbers to pass the time. More often, he talks about the police escort and rousing showing they received in Payson, Ariz., or the man who handed him $5,000 after hearing him on a radio talk show in Colorado.

During March's starting day, rains came down so hard they walked in water over the ankles.
So he tells them stories about weather, and they connect it in their own lives. It has been stranger, more volatile, than they ever remember, Fallon hears them say.

But in the end he is still walking every day. There is some peace in that. In Cass County, he passed wind turbines, rows and rows that to him are hope for a renewable future.

He kept walking and walking. Migration, he said, has always been how we respond to crisis.
"Whether we are fleeing from volcanoes or Huns, we got up and walked. This crisis is maybe not as visible as a volcano, but we still move.

"We are on a pilgrimage."

To join the march on Monday, August 11, go to 3935 Ford St., Norwalk, for the walk to Des Moines.

The public is invited to gather at 5:30 p.m. at the corner of 13th and Locust streets in downtown Des Moines for the 1.6-mile walk to the Iowa State Capitol at 6 p.m., where several speakers will be part of a 6:45 p.m. rally.

To learn more about the march, its route and how to help, go to www.climatemarch.org.



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