Written by Andrew Nguyen, Video Coordinator, Team Massachusetts
Working in Holyoke was a change of pace. Petitioning day after day to shut down the Mount Tom Coal Plant afforded me the opportunity to interact with many of the locals. No longer was I dealing with (mostly) upper/middle-class people but a much wider range of people, including low-income and minority.
It was my first chance to interact and explore a community affected by environmental racism. I constantly heard about the prevalence of asthma in the community. Holyoke’s asthma rate is 24%, compared to MA’s average of 10%. What tore at me was talking to parents of small children with asthma who were not even aware of the coal plant. Mt. Tom is not visible from the city; it quietly ravages the community like a parasite slowly eats away the body.
So, while I was frustrated that there was no immense action on Aug.4th, no blockade or sit-in, I understand the reasoning. The glory is always reserved for the climax. But the gritty, behind-the-scenes work is necessary to first build a movement before it can then be mobilized. The people of Holyoke need to know the suffering caused by the coal plant. Then there needs to be an outlet (Action for a Healthy Holyoke) to harness the potential. Once the people know and realize they can do something about Mt. Tom, about pollution, about climate change, they will act.
They have to. We have to. There is no alternative.
We are running out of time—as my friend and fellow Climate Rider, Shea Riester, talks about in his blog post—we aren’t doing enough. Climate change is “sucker-punching” all of us.
But don’t panic, don’t let paralysis grip you.
Instead, think of that person you hold dear, that you cherish, love, and would do anything for. Who comforts, laughs, cries, smiles—the one whose emotion and presence sustains you and is a beacon that life is good, life is worth living.
Close your eyes. Truly think of them, hold them in your heart. Recall the moments of beauty suspended in memory…
Now breathe. Slowly, deeply—feel life rushing through…Take that energy, that boundless love. Remind yourself, “is this not worth preserving?” Hold precious the wonder of life, let it envelope and sustain.
And go forth. Fight the good fight.
I’ll be there with you.
“if it’s true your life flashes past your eyes before you die, then it is also the truth that your life rushes forth when you are ready to start to truly be alive.”