Climate Summer was a summer of firsts. It’s the last Sunday of the last week of the program, and I still sometimes wonder how I ended up here. After all, stepping into the Camp Wilmot farmhouse for the first time two months ago was my first real exposure to the climate movement. Our two weeks of training were the first time I had learned, concretely, what movement building was and how we were somehow supposed to go about it this summer.
This summer was the first time I had made bread, the first time I had cooked anything substantive (now I’m the queen of stir-fry), the first time I had dragged a bike trailer (now affectionately named the Horcrux), my first time making a video (as my team’s video coordinator), my first time living out of sleeping bags and churches for extended amounts of time, and at one point, my first time not knowing where I would sleep at night. It was a series of challenges that pushed me out of every new comfort zone I had constructed as the weeks passed by. My biggest challenge however, by far, was being new to the climate movement and teaching others about movement building while I was still learning about it myself.
The Brayton Point protest two weeks ago was the first rally I had ever been to. It was also my fullest, most concrete experience of the movement. In previous weeks, I had considered myself a part of the movement (and sometimes even the movement itself), but it still seemed abstract because I had never seen it. On the morning of the protest, however, I was finally beginning to see what a movement, what the movement, really was.
It was seeing the faces of community members we had met in previous towns, and them greeting me like we were old friends. It was seeing a parking lot fill up with 19 Priuses and many, many more people who all cared about the same thing. It was singing songs with Melodeego and walking into the unknown. It was a sense of compassion for people I had never met, and a sense of solidarity with the 400 or so strangers I was standing among.
The movement had finally come alive.