“Black Youth Matter” Rally Feb. 28

It’s time to show our youth that they matter: a message from Wes Bellamy.

“Hello,
My name is Wes Bellamy and I am the President of the Young Black Professional Network of Charlottesville as well as on the Board of Directors for the 100 Black Men of Central Virginia. I am reaching out to you and asking if you can pass along the information below and attached to your networks and community. The time for us to come together is now. We desperately need to show a united front, as well as equip our communities with the tools they need in order to be successful.

We will have a “Black Youth Matter” Rally on February 28, 2014 at 7:00 PM at the Freedom Wall on the Downtown Mall in Charlottesville, Virginia and a “Black Boys Matter” movie and discussion on Saturday March 1st, 2014 at the Charlottesville City Space (100 5th St NE, Charlottesville, VA 22902) at 10:00AM.

As we continue to witness what has transpired over the recent months with the murdering of our Black youth across the country, the widening of educational achievement gaps, and the overall attitude of our youth, we cannot continue to sit back as if these things are not going on around us. The time for action is now. It’s time to show our youth that they matter. We must equip them with the tools that they need in order to survive. We will not march just to yell. We will not rally only for show. We will not gather simply to say that we did so. The time has come for us to equip our young men and women with the tools that they need in order to survive! We need the entire Central Virginia community to come out and help us. We have the tools, now we need YOUR help to get them in the hands of our youth. We cannot continue to talk, we must now act. Together, as one unit, we must show our youth they matter. Please help us in this task.

Bless you and thank you for your time.

Yours in the Movement,
Wes Bellamy
CTE Teacher, Albemarle High School
Helping Young People Evolve (H.Y.P.E.), Founder and Chairman
Young Black Professional Network of Charlottesville, President
100 Black Men of Central Virginia, Board of Directors”

Climate Resolution at Charlottesville City Council Oct. 7

Charlottesville could become the 71st city to join the Center for Biological Diversity’s Clean Air Cities campaign by passing a resolution in support of using the Clean Air Act to curb global warming now. Please attend the Charlottesville City Council meeting on Monday, October 7, to support the resolution and also email council@charlottesville.org to express your support (sample email below).

“Clean Air Cities” is a nationwide campaign urging cities around the United States to call on the Obama administration and the EPA to use the Clean Air Act to make significant reductions in greenhouse gas pollution. More information is at biologicaldiversity.org.

Sample Email to Council:

Dear Mayor Huja, Vice Mayor Szakos, Councilmember Galvin, Councilmember Norris, and Councilmember Smith,

As a resident of Charlottesville, I fully support Charlottesville passing a resolution in support of using the Clean Air Act to curb global warming pollution. The resolution will be on your October 7 agenda and has been introduced by Councilmember Norris.

2012 was the hottest year on record for the contiguous U.S. Arctic monitoring stations recently reported that carbon dioxide levels in the region have reached 400 parts per million – a milestone that underscores the risks of greenhouse gas pollution. Experts say we need to get carbon dioxide concentrations down to 350 ppm to avoid many dangerous impacts.

We need to take significant steps now on all levels –globally, nationally and locally — to curb greenhouse gas pollution and avoid the worst effects of climate change. On the national level, the Clean Air Act is our current best hope to reach this goal in the United States.

In April 2007, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency that CO2 is an “air pollutant” under the definition of the Clean Air Act and the EPA has already begun to use this important tool to reduce greenhouse gas pollution. But, the Clean Air Act is under significant attack. Cities across the country can be a powerful voice for supporting and prompting action in Washington and countering moves by the fossil fuel industry to weaken, delay or gut the Clean Air Act.

As a leader in the fight against climate change and for clean air, I hope Charlottesville will stand up to big polluters and stand for the Clean Air Act by passing this resolution.

Sincerely,

Music to Change the World

A conversation has been swirling around me lately, everywhere I go. It’s about the transformational power of music and stories… to connect people with each other… to plant and grow the vision of healing our relationship with the earth. I hope some of the songs and links below will inspire you!

* * * * *

At CCAN’s Chasing Ice screening, I heard about two artists who shared uplifting social change messages at Floyd Fest this summer: Ben Sollee (who participated in Climate Ride NYC-DC 2012) and Xavier Rudd.

Ben Sollee performing “A Few Honest Words” at the Lincoln Memorial:

Ben Sollee, “A Change Is Gonna Come”:

Xavier Rudd, “The Mother”:

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Charles Eisenstein visited Charlottesville to talk about the space between stories, his name for our collective transition from the “old story” of earth domination and destruction to a “new story” of interbeing.

“A New Story of the People” – Charles Eisenstein at TEDxWhitechapel:

* * * * *

While watching The Corporation at my house this week, we talked about the need for a new wave of activist music like the songs that supported and inspired social change movements of the 60s and 70s. Afterward, Stevo shared a Yes! Magazine interview with Dar Williams about political music.

Dar Williams, “Empire”:

* * * * *

Cville Transitioner Joanie Freeman went to the National Storytelling Conference in Richmond and came back full of inspiration to share environmental stories and songs. Look for events coming soon…. maybe you will see a pop-up hootenanny on a Charlottesville street corner! Please get in touch with Joanie if you’d like to help cultivate this idea – freeman.joanie@gmail.com or (434) 987-1026.

Bonus link: “50 Greatest Protest Songs

So… what’s your favorite song for inspiration? Please share!

Thankfulness for the Journey

Joanie & Dave, founding members of Transition Cville, walked 100 miles from Camp David to the White House with the Walk For Our Grandchildren to deliver an urgent message to the President and the country: Keep Fossil Fuels in the Ground.

Here’s the report from Day 7, as members of the Walk prepared for direct action against the Keystone XL pipeline. (Read the reports from Day 1 and Day 4.)

Thankfulness For The Journey Thus Far

Today was a transition day for the Walk. Leaving behind the still waters of the C&O Canal Trail’s natural beauty and steady routine, walkers are now being drawn into the tumult and rapids of culminating Walk events in Washington. Tomorrow we take direct action against a key corporate enabler of the Keystone XL project during which time many of us will be risking arrest. Saturday we reach our ultimate goal, the White House, and will call upon President Obama to demonstrate substantive leadership on climate by rejecting the KXL.

More on that in a bit, but first I want to describe a sweet moment from yesterday evening. Usually at suppertime folks have scattered here and there to eat around the tents in groups of four or five. Last night, however, a small circle sitting cross-legged on the ground found itself repeatedly scooting out to make room for others. Soon all of us were sitting together.

Perhaps in unconscious recognition that the Walk For Our Grandchildren will soon end, a single conversation of appreciation for the week’s experience spontaneously began. There were nods, affirmation, and often laughter as each of us spoke about our journey so far.

I actually withheld my contribution to that conversation until this daily report, so here it is now. For those who have connected the dots, done the math, and otherwise abstained from drinking climate science denial kool-aid, it’s obvious that the struggle for a livable climate will occupy and define the rest of our lives. It will demand every physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual resource available to us.

In an earlier email to participants in preparation for the Walk, I had challenged walkers to bring their A game. How little did I comprehend the extent to which these people were prepared to do just that. In the last seven days we have run a gauntlet of blisters and thunderstorms, heat and exhaustion. We have been tested.

Yet here’s something astonishing which I’m sure some of you may not even believe. I can honestly say that in all this time I have not heard even a single word pass in anger from one walker to another. Neither have I heard anyone engage in malicious gossip or backbiting. Not that there haven’t been hard feelings—it’s just that they’ve all been directed, for instance, at the filthy and dangerous Dickerson coal plant under whose shadow we passed one day, or to the massive coal train we spied across the canal as we walked.

So hard feelings? Yes, it is a fact that we have nothing good to say for reckless corporate chieftains or feckless and corrupt politicians. Likewise, we are sworn opponents of both the suicidal, know nothings of the denialist right wing as well as lukewarm, liberal appeasement of climate crime.

Anger…But So Much More

Certainly, then, we climate activists are no strangers to anger. Named and tamed, it’s a capable servant. Yet it will always be a blunt instrument when compared to…what? Love in action? Whatever you call it, you know it when you see it. Its hallmark is humility and abundant, sacrificial giving born of passion for what’s right.

And I’ve seen it again and again. A rabbi calls from Philadelphia offering to drive all the way down to the Walk on the single afternoon he has available should we need him in that tiny window of time for shuttling walkers. An experienced and athletic young activist chooses to forego the camaraderie of walking to spend the whole Walk working behind the scenes in the community kitchen. A woman dedicates an entire week to driving water coolers around in her pickup truck with her two dogs just so thirsty walkers can have something to drink. Taken individually, such altruism is praiseworthy. Gathered up and focused through a lens of shared commitment, however, it burns with power and potential.

One of my favorite stories from the Walk demonstrates this. There’s a young woman here with us who works as a cook sixty hours per week in the summer to put herself through college. To get time off from her job for the Walk, she negotiated with her boss to take all her days off in one lump. Working on her feet continuously in the weeks prior to the Walk, she actually arrived at Camp David with hot spots pre-formed on her feet. Before she was able to take even her first step to the White House, her blisters with their head start were already several miles up the road and waiting for her.

With the encouragement of the sizzling asphalt on those first 100°+  days, it wasn’t long before the woman’s blisters were transformed into debilitating wounds. Walking partially on her toes now with a shortened gait to make the pain bearable, she begins and ends each day’s walk with a minimum of breaks because it’s just easier to get the miles over with without stopping. Sag support is available, but she walks them all.

Continuing The Journey

And now, tonight, the Walk divides into two streams. One part of us will continue into the city tomorrow with our day walkers in order to maintain the integrity of our one hundred mile route from Camp David. The other part of us breaks off to go to St. Stephens Church for four hours of training in preparation for tomorrow’s action.

The young woman I spoke of is in the latter group and will be one of those preparing to risk arrest for the first time in her life. She has been walking for her eleven year old brother, James, and there’s no piece of this which feels frivolous for her. Though it’s her first time risking arrest for her and her brother’s future, it likely won’t be the last.

If this Walk For Our Grandchildren has taught us anything, it’s that we’re so much stronger and better when we’re together. So many of the best qualities of a human being are contagious:  courage, clear-mindedness, love, and hope. In addition to my blisters, I have caught a fresh case of each of these this past week.

Make no mistake, I still understand how slim the odds are of us pulling off the political, economic, and spiritual revolutions necessary for us to survive on this warming planet. It’s just that now, more than ever, I really am ready to try.
-Greg Yost for the 2013 Walk For Our Grandchildren

Update: 54 people were arrested after blocking work inside ERM, the big oil contractor hired by the State Department to write their Keystone XL review. ERM claimed the pipeline would have no “significant” climate impacts – and they failed to disclose their connections to big oil and TransCanada. Watch the story here (check out Joanie on the megaphone around minute 2:45): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tar3Yb0li8I&feature=youtu.be

direct action against KXL at ERM

Voices from the Walk For Our Grandchildren

Joanie & Dave, founding members of Transition Cville, are walking from Camp David to the White House this week with the Walk For Our Grandchildren to deliver an urgent message to the President and the country: Keep Fossil Fuels in the Ground. Read the report on Day 1 here.

Here’s the report on Day 4, “Voices from the Walk For Our Grandchildren,” from Elisabeth Hoffman:

Voices From The Walk

For our children, we would do anything.

From the mundane to the extraordinary, we have done what ever was necessary to protect, clothe, educate, and help them grow.

Parents on the 2013 Walk For Our Grandchildren baby-proofed the house, stayed up all night with sick children, coached, and volunteered in schools. Some gave up lucrative jobs to work from home for their children or to go sledding on snow days. Those memories are now the fuel that moves them onward step by step to Washington DC.

Bill Ramsey of Asheville, NC instilled a love of nature in his children with summer backpacking and camping trips. But they also participated in protests, including once when his oldest son, then two years old and out of view in a backpack, was inadvertently arrested with him at a farm workers’ strike. “They’ve seen me, day after day, working and acting as if we can create change,” he said. Bill now walks for his grandchildren, age eight and three.

Jim Russ, a day walker from DC, knows what it means to fully commit to the wellbeing of a child. He raised two children with special needs and then added a stepson with special needs to his family. Although his time and energy were taken up with family, he says our culture could benefit from that perspective. “Career, business, and making money don’t do lasting service to culture. The Walk goes beyond fossil fuels to living for another, and not just for oneself.”

Melinda Tuhus from New Haven, CT would agree. She said she set the example that “consumerism isn’t the be all and end all.” She loved to take her two children camping and, in so doing, taught them to appreciate the fragility of nature. She saved over the years to put her children through college with no debt. She walks with a photo of her granddaughter, Eliza, pinned to her shirt.

For Jenny Lisak of Punxutawney, PA, who home-schooled her three children on their family’s organic vegetable farm, parental love and care had to find expression in a series of hard choices. Jenny found herself agreeing to send her fifteen year old son off to college when her family was faced with the threat of a drill pad and vast waste pit for fracking chemicals near her home. She challenged the drilling company and eventually forced at least a temporary retreat, but sending her son away felt like the only safe path. Her community remains surrounded by drill rigs for fracked natural gas, injection wells, and frack ponds that send benzene and other chemicals wafting over their homes.

And now as these four parents on the Walk lace on their walking shoes each morning, they and the others like them find themselves asking what more they must do to secure a safe climate for the children and grandchildren they cherish. What sacrifices and commitments need to be made to take the path to a future free of fossil fuels?

The younger people along the Walk likewise feel the urgency.

“If you recognize our interdependence with plants and animals… then you can’t live a lifestyle of complete disregard of all life forms,” said 18-year-old Alex Hunter-Nickels of Shenandoah Valley, VA.

“This is the critical moment,” said Jerry Stewart of Aldie, VA, walking for his nephew born July 2 and wearing white ribbons on his backpack for all his family members and friends. ”We must be the ones to act. It can’t be that ‘someone’ will figure it out. That someone must be us.”

-Elisabeth Hoffman for the 2013 Walk For Our Grandchildren

 

Cville Climate Solidarity Rally Sat. 7/27

Saturday, July 27, Noon
at the Freedom of Speech Wall, City Hall Plaza, Charlottesville

It’s time to speak up for our future! Join local climate advocates at the Freedom of Speech Wall to grab some chalk and share the message about climate change.

ClimateRally1

As temperatures rise around the globe, 350.org is rallying folks across the U.S. for two weeks of mass action to turn up the heat on climate polluters. On Saturday, July 27, a huge group will gather at the White House to tell President Obama: Reject the Keystone pipeline once and for all, and keep your promises to protect the future for our children and grandchildren.

DC is a long walk from here, so Charlottesville area folks are invited to gather for a solidarity rally in downtown Cville. Please walk, bike, take the bus, ride a horse, or carpool.

We will write and draw on the Wall about the climate change impacts we’re already seeing: heat waves, drought, wildfires, floods, rising seas, melting Arctic ice. And we’ll make the solutions clear, too: keep fossil fuels in the ground and invest in clean wind & solar energy, alternative transportation, energy conservation, and relocalizing our economy.

While we post our messages, Transition Cville member Joanie Freeman will call in from the rally in DC. Joanie is walking 100 miles this week from Camp David to the White House as part of the Walk For Our Grandchildren.

Join Transition Charlottesville Albemarle, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, 350 Central Virginia, Wise Energy for Virginia, and all of our local allies this Saturday, July 27, NOON at the Freedom of Speech Wall on the east end of the Downtown Mall, 605 E. Main St. 22902.

See you on Saturday! Questions? Please contact Ann Marie Hohenberger, annmarie.hohenberger@gmail.com or (434) 981-2004.

Please spread the word about the Cville Climate Solidarity Rally by sharing this message and joining the Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/528021360587041/

Walk For Our Grandchildren Day 1

Joanie & Dave are walking from Camp David to the White House this week. The walk is part of 350.org‘s Summer Heat campaign of nationwide action. A group of elders from North Carolina organized the “Walk For Our Grandchildren” to deliver an urgent message to the President and the country: Keep Fossil Fuels in the Ground.

Here’s the report on Day 1 of the walk, from Greg Yost of 350.org:

Heat! Blisters! Sweat and sore muscles! But wow, what a fantastic first day we had.

The 2013 Walk For Our Grandchildren got off to a roaring start today from Camp David and tonight is 11 miles closer to its White House goal.

We’re walking 100 miles to carry a message from every dried up, burned, flooded, hurricaned, and sick-and-tired-of-climate-inaction corner of this country to President Obama. We demand substantive climate leadership NOW starting with a final and unequivocal rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Basically, President Obama, no more ifs, ands, or buts. Climate change is the most pressing issue this nation has ever faced. Lead or get out of the way.

And who is delivering this feisty message? WE ARE! Today we were 22 strong with critical back up from our support team keeping us supplied with snacks and cool water. We’ll be in Harpers Ferry, WV on Sunday where our numbers will grow to 75 or more. As we move closer to DC, numbers will swell yet again with hundreds joining each day as day walkers.

Joanie at Walk For Our Grandchildren

Joanie at Walk For Our Grandchildren

Interested? Go to http://joinsummerheat.org/maryland/ and sign up to get more information on where and when to meet us. Also, check out http://joinsummerheat.org/dc/ for the latest on two actions we’re initiating in DC onFriday, July 26th and Saturday, July 27th. Get to DC if you can and get active. This is a great way to do it.

Here’s a brief rundown of today’s Walk. We began just before noon at a park in Thurmont, MD. After so many weeks of frenzied organizing, it was a poignant moment to finally put faces to the names and to hear each person speak aloud their reason for participating.

We then rode over to the entrance of Camp David for the start of the Walk proper. We discovered there’s a reason presidents hang out there. It’s beautiful!

Park police showed up and firmly but politely informed us that we were in violation of their rules against unpermitted processions with more than 25 people and they threatened to issue us a citation. We pled our innocence–was it our fault these NPR reporters and other press members showed up and decided to walk with us? Crisis averted. It helped matters that while Jim Brown and Steve Norris smoothed things over with the police, the rest of us kept walking out of the park just as fast as we could!

2013 Walk For Our Grandchildren

The rest of our route took us over some beautiful back country Maryland roads. We stopped to engage the curious every chance we had and received a warm reception everywhere we went. We’re spending the night tonight camped in the yard of some very gracious hosts (thanks, Tammy and Helen!). Tomorrow it’s on the Meyerville, MD where we’ll lend our support to a courageous group of people fighting a dirty and dangerous gas compressor station.

Dave representing 350 Central VA

So that’s our report tonight from the end of a long, exhausting, and rewarding day. We’re rolling! We’ve got a good team doing serious work and having way too much fun together. Building community and growing a movement is definitely its own reward.

More soon!

-Greg Yost for the 2013 Walk For Our Grandchildren

Foraging in Belmont

Free food is growing on our city streets! I went out on a forage walk for the first time this week, and it was truly amazing how many useful and edible plants seem to be offering their abundance.

Over the last couple of months I’ve had a few conversations with Christine from Blue Ridge Permaculture Network, Sarah from C’ville Foodscapes, Matt from The Bridge PAI, and assorted other friends about how to encourage urban permaculture and edible plantings in the city. One of the ideas that came up was to begin mapping urban edibles that already exist.

So we decided to get together and try it out! There are (at least) two online platforms available, NeighborhoodFruit.com and FallingFruit.org. Neighborhood Fruit also has a mobile app, Find Fruit. A few of us met at Jenny’s house in Belmont and went for a walk.

First stop was a huge mulberry tree overhanging and dropping its fruit all over the sidewalk just a block from where we started. We all stuffed our mouths and got a little juice-spotted before we ran out of low-hanging fruit.

mulberries

Next we meandered into the Belmont Lofts parking lot in search of some rumored serviceberries (also called Juneberries). Along the way, we spotted mulberry, ginko, mimosa, black locust, fig, burdock, garlic mustard, and wild grapes. We used the Leafsnap app to investigate a few shrubs. Finally we rounded a corner and there they were: about a dozen large Juneberry trees covered with fruit.

There was a lot of fruit on the ground, so we figured we wouldn’t be taking food from the Belmont Lofts’ residents if we went ahead and helped ourselves to a snack. If you live there, now you know: those berries are YUMMY.

juneberries

During & after the walk we talked about the pros & cons of online mapping. Adding public plantings to one of the online maps would definitely help new foragers find a place to start. Some folks said that sharing info by word-of-mouth can be a fun aspect of foraging, and they weren’t sure that would translate well to an online map. We talked about using MeetUp as a way to add social interaction and help form new foraging friendships. We also wanted to see forage mapping info made accessible offline – say, on posters at the neighborhood school, or in a sidewalk mural at the park.

Another dilemma was whether it’s OK to map fruit that’s growing on private property. General consensus was, it’s only appropriate if the fruit is overhanging the street and obviously going to waste – and it’s important to make a note on the map that the location is on private property. On the flip side, Neighborhood Fruit includes the very awesome option to register fruit that you’re willing to share. It would be truly fantastic for folks all over the city to plant an edible bush or tree near the street, and invite the neighbors to harvest!

We’re planning to organize some more social forage walks this summer. If you’re interested, please get in touch! You can reach me at annmarie (dot) hohenberger (at) gmail (dot) com. At this point it’s definitely an informal, bring-your-own-knowledge type of thing. The library has some foraging books; search the catalog for “wild food.” If you want a good recommendation (though it’s not a library book…yet), two people showed up for this week’s walk with copies of The Forager’s Harvest by Samuel Thayer.

mimosa