Written by Alivia Ashenfarb, New Media Coordinator for Team RICONN
Although Google doesn’t recognize “Scottsdale, Connecticut,” (at least it didn’t when I searched it) I am 98 percent confident it exists because I remember biking into it. I remember pedaling past the sign that says “Scottsdale Welcomes You” and loathing every minute of it.
The hills leading up to that sign, to that town that both Google and my team have a difficult time remembering, are what caused me to resent Scottsdale so much. These hills were definitely some of the steepest hills my team had encountered on its trek at that point, and they always came in waves of three and four at a time. They never stood alone and they never gave you the chance to stop, rest, and prepare (physically and mentally) for the next one.
I think I had a particularly difficult time climbing the hills of Scottsdale because I was pulling the team trailer that day. I was pulling the 80-pound (or more) trailer full of my team’s laptops, office supplies, and bike gear.
The trailer and my inexperience with biking and certainly with biking hills of that size made my ride painful—and in my opinion, thee most painful experience of all my team member’s rides that day. (I think this might be the case because, as I mentioned, my team doesn’t quite remember Scottsdale and I was the one lagging behind most of the way.)
Not only did biking those hills physically and mentally challenge me, but they made me angry. And as I rode, I pinpointed the cause of my anger right away—it was the trailer. I tried to think of what exactly in that trailer weighed so much. Doesn’t Apple pride itself on the lightness of its MacBook? Didn’t bike tubes and construction paper weigh only a pound? Wasn’t the purpose of the multi-tool to consolidate size and weight?
I wanted to know why the trailer was so heavy because I needed to justify my pulling it. I needed to know why it was so important that I carry each ounce of that trailer through Scottsdale to our next destination because I didn’t want to pull that trailer if it wasn’t necessary. I didn’t understand why I had to pull things that I didn’t know were in there; that I didn’t know why they were there, to whom they belonged and what purpose they served.
As I went through a list of suspected heavy items in my head, calculating the total weight as I went, I drew a connection between my pulling the trailer and my participation Climate Summer that I thought spoke volumes—and helped me get through the rest of my ride.
Pulling the trailer is like pushing for an end to anthropogenic climate change. The trailer is like the collection of man’s past and current irresponsible and environmentally detrimental decisions. Not everything in the trailer belongs to me; I had no say in placing some of the items in it; but I had to pull it, to face the consequence of being a part of my Climate Summer team. Likewise, the majority of people alive today (dare I say 99 percent) are not responsible for the decisions governments and corporations made to become dependent on fossil fuels around the time of the Industrial Revolution. Developing countries certainly aren’t to blame for anthropogenic climate change—but they might be some day soon if they make the same decisions we did.
What’s in the trailer, or what’s in the past, is there to stay. It’s there to stay unless the people who find themselves carrying the burden of the weight, of the consequences of past actions, act to address them, to change them. As a member of Climate Summer’s Team RICONN, I needed to realize that the weight fell on me to carry the supplies we needed to build our movement and even, to live. As people of today, we need to realize our connection to the past, to each other, to the future, to our trailer of mistakes, laziness, greed, and disregard for the environment and for life that comes after us and take a hard look at it and change it.
Pulling the trailer and pushing for an end to anthropogenic climate change is hard. It takes strategy, will, motivation, and sweat. It isn’t the responsibility of one person; it doesn’t trace to one person’s needs or actions; it can and should be connected to everyone; and I believe that once it is, everyone will reap the benefits.
After I made the connection between the trailer I was pulling and the movement I was pushing, I spent a few minutes thinking of the people I know who have decided that climate change isn’t their fault, their issue. I thought of the people who aren’t ready to commit themselves to reversing (or trying to reverse) the effects man has had on the planet. I know I will meet more of these people this summer and in my life. But I also know how important it is to keep pedaling. I know that this summer it is my job, and the job of 27 other individuals, to remind people that it’s their job to pull the trailer, too.