One of the most common questions I have been asked this summer is, “What do you like best about Climate Summer?” Some people would guess the bike rides, the independence, the meaningful work or even just getting into really great shape. While all of those components provide their own unique flavor to the unpredictable experience of working with Climate Summer, hands-down, the number one thing I like about Climate Summer and this movement is how people come together.
Every town we’ve been in so far, I am amazed and surprised time and time again by the generosity and gratitude people show towards us riders. Upon entering a town, we get countless offers of food, places to stay, priceless shower opportunities and the frequent “give us a call if you need anything.” These offers often come before we have even done anything! Then when we actually start to do something, well that is when the magic starts to happen.
I have endless examples of this but for both my time’s sake and your’s, I’m just going to give one: Ashburnham, the last town we were in. Upon arriving at the picture perfect home of Lindsey and Josh Sundberg, we were offered their entire barn and a chance to dip in their swimming pool which looked like an oasis after our long ride. Their willingness to help us in any way possible was endless while they were both working, taking care of their two little bundles of energy – Heidi who is 3 and Evelyn who is 5 – all the while doing work to oppose the pipeline which would affect their homestead. Then there was Pat Stewart who gave us a seemingly endless supply of homemade goat cheese and soap (yes, soap made from goat milk) while sharing her powerful story of resistance against the pipeline. There were also multiple offers for food, dips in lakes and handshakes of thanks from other members of the community throughout our stay.
On the last day we were there, we had our event – a Pipeline Awareness Gathering. In less than 48 hours of tabling, emailing and door-to-dooring, we had an incredible turnout of about 20 people that packed the haystack seats in the back of the Sundberg barn. The people that showed up were both young and old; new to town and 3rd generation folks; people who have been involved since day one and people just finding out what this Kinder Morgan Pipeline is really all about. We opened the event with an exercise to get everyone there to find commonalities. The exercise ends with everyone coming together and having to find one commonality; what did they find? They all oppose the pipeline!
That is what I love about this movement. People that come from different backgrounds, decades, religions and even political parties (no this isn’t voodoo magic) come together to fight for what they do have in common: the need to save their lands, their families, their way of life. I’ve seen people that told us they refuse to work together, end up working together to solve this issue. I’ve seen a farmer, caked in dirt after a long day in the fields, having a meaningful conversation with a lady still in her business suit, waiting to go home to see her kids. And I’ve seen a girl that grew up in sunny Maui, Hawii; a young man from the streets of Miami, Florida; a girl from the suburbs of Dallas, Texas; a guy from the cornfields of Rives Junction, Michigan, and a young lady from the lush green Arden Hills, Minnesotta devote their entire summers to fight for a cause that flows through their veins with every beat of their hearts.
That is what this movement, this proposed pipeline is doing to people. In a day and age when the community has weakened and individuals strive to get on top, this is nothing short of magic. Kinder Morgan believes they can build this pipeline by being sly, winning us over individually, taking our lands bit by bit. Well I’m here to say that just isn’t going to happen. In my short time in working with communities so far this summer, I’ve seen the power and passion that is emerging from these communities. Twenty-one towns have already passed resolutions opposing the pipeline with the town we are in now, Montague, being the latest with the resolution being passed this past Monday. Kinder Morgan believes they can cheat the system and take our land while leaving us powerless by gaining imminent domain. I say let them try. We won’t stop and say we gave it the good ol’ college try. These communities will show Kinder Morgan and the rest of the country that Massachusetts and New Englanders don’t go down without a fight. So I just have one more thing to say to Kinder Morgan.