Posted by: Caroline
Springfield continues to overwhelm us with its welcoming attitude and its eagerness for change.
On Thursday, the team spent the majority of the day at the Springfield Public Library, a beautiful neo-classical structure no more than a hundred feet from the Episcopal Cathedral where we’re staying. As we struggled with advanced work for our next two towns, we found comfort in our surroundings. There’s nothing quite so reassuring as a city library on a summer day—the multitude of books, the diversity of people, the whirr of the fans, the hum of activity . . .
At 11, Katie, Eric, and I, headed back to the Cathedral to help prepare a community meal. Since the late 90s, Christ Church Cathedral has hosted lunch and dinner, called Loaves and Fishes, for those who need it almost every day of the week. The three of us had a great time talking with Darleen, the woman who heads the operation. She told us anecdotes about her many years working in this position and about the kitchen’s current struggles with area museums, who want the operation moved elsewhere. “But you know,” she informed us, as she lowered her voice. “I’m a child of the 60s. I’m a rebel. I hope you all stay rebels too.”
We don’t expect to disappoint her.
Before serving the meal, Katie, Eric, and I joined twelve other community members at a prayer service delivered by Rev. Jim Munroe, the Dean of Christ Church Cathedral, and the open-hearted individual responsible for letting us stay at the church. (Darleen informed us that he’s a rebel, too.) After the prayer service, we joined volunteers from an area church to help serve the 150 individuals who showed up for the meal. We later had some food ourselves and enjoyed chatting with people still eating, who generously articulated interest in, and support for, our journey this summer.
After an afternoon at the library filled with still more advanced work, we headed over to the Forest Park Branch Library for our Climate Emergency Meeting and Green Forum. Although we had some technical difficulties with the projector, overall, the meeting was a huge success. The fourteen attendees represented a range of organizations—Western New England College’s Sustainability Program, the Green Rainbow Party, Springfield City Council, the Springfield Institute, Arise for Social Justice, Stop Toxic Incineration in Springfield, the Green Commission, and the McKnight Neighborhood Youth Council. The energy in the room was positive and powerful, and the dialogue regarding the intersection between social justice and environmental issues was stimulating. We especially enjoyed speaking with individuals after the meeting.
One conversation I will particularly remember: Tali and I spoke with a woman working at Western New England College, interested in finding out how she can get Students for a Just and Stable Future plugged into the College’s somewhat conservative student community. She explained how she feels that so many of the world’s problems require dramatic cultural changes in order to be solved, and how she hopes that getting students involved in SJSF might be a small step in the right direction. She continued, “Here’s what I tell my students: most people spend their days doing work they don’t like, to buy things they don’t need, and in the process help people who don’t need help. The majority of their things end up in landfills, and then they die.” Darleen’s earlier encouragement to “stay rebels” now seemed even wiser than before.