By: Lauren Clapp
Climate summer is beginning to end, and I finally feel like we’re getting the hang of the routine: ride 35-50 miles, recover, meet lots of awesome people, ride our bikes, sleep on the floor, explore the city, work with and learn from our community partners, ride our bikes, attend services at the church we’ve been staying at, and ride again. Our past week in Westport, however, was a welcome break from routine. Westport was easily the most beautiful we’ve visited all summer, and MAssMovement took some much needed R&R time to go beaching and admire the view.
Another deviation from our norm was church on Sunday. Pastor Katherine asked us to be a part of the service, which is something we’ve become used to this summer. This past Sunday, our involvement in the church service worked a little differently than what we’ve normally done all summer (stand up, give our shpeal, sit back down, eat cookies). The four of us sat in front of the
congregation with PK, and gave a “scripted dialogue” sermon, which was interspersed with a hymn. Carrie and Moe gave their personal narratives, Rayleigh asked WPP residents to opt in for renewable energy through NSTAR or National Grid, and I gave my general impressions of Westport, which I would like to share with the blogosphere world here.
After giving some thought to the question that Pastor Katherine asked me to respond to (What are your impressions of Westport, and what will you share with others about our community after you leave?), three things came to mind.
First, is the sense of community present in Westport, powerful and tangible in a way that we have not been exposed to in any other town or city we’ve visited this summer. People here know each other, care about each other, and even if they don’t always agree with each other, they realize they are all connected by the place they call home.
Wednesday night, Carrie and I went for a walk after dinner. We ended up at the end of Main Road, at the wharf, where we happened upon a ragtag bluegrass band playing its heart out. We asked some of the audience members about the event, and they told us simply that it was something that happened every Wednesday night- there was no formal organizing about it, one time it just “happened” and it became a tradition. Anyone was invited to play, and most people in Westport know about this summertime tradition. In an age of online relationships and disconnected communication, this is not something you see every day.
Second was a key learning my team and I realized after a visit to a local business that had tried alternative energy…and it was a bust. This company built wind turbines on its property and had not seen any sort of significant return on the investment. During our stay in Westport PK did personality inventories for each of us, and what do you know? ¾ of our team tested as idealists (I’d be willing to be this is a statistic that is replicable across all of climate summer). As idealists, it is a common trap for us to keep our heads in the clouds, focusing on the big picture and sometimes losing sight of the little things. It was important for us to see the challenges of building a world full of fossil fuels, to see failure, and to think critically about how to achieve our vision.
Finally, I was blown away by the beauty of Westport Point. Coastal roads with beaches and ocean juxtaposed to open farmlands. In her personal narrative, Moe talked about the need to preserve our safe places and protect spaces on this earth we feel connected to. One of the most dire effects of burning fossil fuels is, of course, climate change. Westport Point, being a coastal community, is extremely vulnerable to the consequences of climate change, such as rising sea waters and ocean acidification. Climate change could (and if we don’t do anything, will) change Westport and the Point. This change will not be for the better. I want my family, friends and children to be able to visit Westport and see the gorgeous landscapes I saw last Sunday. I want to preserve Westport and protect this special place.