On Breaking and Losing Stuff

Posted on behalf of Zalo Crivelli, Video Coordinator, Team East

After almost 7 weeks on the road, I’ve managed to lose my retainer, my laptop charger, my front fender’s mudguard, and about 20 rubber bands (they held my clothes in rolls). I’ve managed to snap my bicycle’s rear rim, snap my chain breaker in two, rip a six inch hole on my cargo shorts, and spot two small tears on one of my panniers. What have I learned? Breaking or losing stuff sucks.

We “lost” the road. Lesson: Google Maps doesn’t know if a road will flood.

We “lost” the road. Lesson: Google Maps doesn’t know if a road will flood.

But there’s a plus side. Whenever something breaks, I try to treat it as an opportunity to learn. When I snapped my bicycle’s rear tire rim and didn’t know how to build a wheel using a new rim, I made a mental note to read about wheel building with Park Tool’s mechanic book and several wheel-building YouTube videos. When I snapped my chain breaker in two, I learned to always link a chain with proper sized pegs and to avoid rushing a repair–even when under time pressure. When I spotted a small centimeter-sized hole in my cargo shorts, I realized that I needed to learn how to sew. When I failed to learn how to sew, I noticed that the hole widened to 2 inches, 3 inches, and eventually, 6 inches. I learned, the hard way, that “a stitch in time saves 9” (I will learn how to mend when I get back to Amherst). As for the two small holes in my pannier, since I didn’t have nylon thread available, I learned that improvising temporary fixes can be better than allowing a tear to widen (I used duct tape, in case you were wondering).

Whenever something is lost, I also treat it as an opportunity to learn. I’ve been trying to remember why the things I lost were misplaced to begin with. The retainers were lost because I didn’t always have their case with me, so I’d unconsciously lay the two transparent teeth molds down on the nearest surface, like grass. When I finally lost them, I learned to always be mindful when I grab something up or place something down. The laptop charger was lost because I would disconnect it from my laptop and walk away to work someplace else. When I finally lost it, I learned to avoid leaving things lying around haphazardly, even when I’m not using them. My front fender’s mudguard was lost because the bolt fastening it to the fender eventually loosened off from road vibration. When I noticed that my fender was missing the mudguard, I learned to check my bike more often and more thoroughly. The rubber bands were lost because they were small. When I realized I only had about 5 left, I learned to roll my clothes without using rubber bands (I use clothing’s sleeves or pockets to hold them together).

Body: Not broken. Lesson: Balance is useful.

Body: Not broken. Lesson: Balance is useful.

Whether you lose or break something, if you’d like to retain your joy, it’s also useful to think that most of everything material in this world has a finite durability – and it’s more than likely replaceable. I will be able to replace every single material thing I lost or broke this summer, but the experiences and lessons I’ve learned as a result of these things breaking or becoming lost will serve me for the rest of my life.

The goal is to avoid breaking or losing stuff – it costs materials and money to replace things. When you do break or lose something though, if you can – after the initial frustration and annoyance fades – try to treat every broken or lost piece of “stuff” as a way to learn a new skill or life lesson. And try your best to not beat yourself up over the mishap; remember that the object is most likely replaceable.

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For Future Generations

Posted on behalf of Tuula Perry, Team Leader, Team East

Our activities on Tuesday have really impacted me. We started by going to the Townsend Recreation Center where we spent time with their summer camp group which included kids from ages 5-13. Coincidentally, we visited on Hawaiian Day so I enjoyed teaching the children a few hula moves. We also asked them what they knew about climate change and the pipeline. I was very impressed because a lot of these kids knew about global warming and were able to explain why they don’t need the pipeline in their hometown. We had them write letters to Governor Patrick. They were great! One of my favorites reads, “Dear Governor Patrick, We don’t need the pipeline. Instead, we should have pickles, and dogs for free.” If the governor takes time to read all these letters, I don’t know how he could ever see that the pipeline is built.

Me teaching the kids - and fellow riders - how to huula!

Me teaching the kids – and fellow riders – how to hula!

We also met with a youth group for lunch at the Townsend Library to talk about the proposed pipeline and how it contributes to global warming. I found a lot of hope from them because of their high level of concern about the matter. I really think they understood that it is our generation that will have to deal with the devastating effects of this pipeline.

The day took a dichotomous turn that evening when my team and I went to our first Kinder Morgan presentation and public gathering regarding the proposed pipeline at Lunenburg High School. I wanted to sit in the front and center to look them in the eye in the hopes that through my glares they will feel the weight that their decision is having on future generations. When the public was given time for questions, I was delighted to hear from some of the inspiring folks we had met along our journey including Diane Hewitt, Roberta Flashman, Cinda, Lindsey Sundberg, and Peter and Coleen Jeffery. They all came well prepared and did a great job at challenging the ethics and scientifically unsound practices of what Kinder Morgan was proposing.

It was infuriating when Kinder Morgan representatives like Allen Fore avoided questions and took no ownership of the destruction their project would have on the towns it would go through. As they lied through their teeth I could tell that they had no soul. At the end I couldn’t help tears from streaming down my face…I hope they saw. I was so overcome with emotion knowing that the fight we are fighting could change the lives of the kids we got to know earlier that day. I don’t think it is possible for someone to be a supporter of the pipeline if they understand the bigger picture. For this reason I am ready to give this movement all I got during this final week of the program. It is so important that we build the momentum and opposition this final month before the FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Comission) pre-filing date. It’s time that the voices of the many amazing communities and individuals that we have met this summer are heard before it’s too late.

Letter writing at the Townsend Rec Center

Letter writing at the Townsend Rec Center

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The Return of the Cyclists

Posted on behalf of Alissa Zimmer, Community Outreach Coordinator, Team For the MASSes.

There’s no better feeling than being able to get to our destination without having to pull up Google Maps and knowing exactly when to swerve to avoid the bad potholes on our way there. Being back in Brockton, especially in the Christ Congregational Church, has felt like coming back home.

Returning to communities gives a really comforting sense of continuity. We have been able to continue projects that we started at the beginning of the summer – we’ve bird-dogged Mayor Carpenter, helped Stop the Power with more video productions, and just spent time with people who have become friends both in the context of our role as organizers and outside of it.

The Unity March is just one example that exemplifies the strong community Brockton has.

The Unity March is just one example that exemplifies the strong community Brockton has.

The real reward in returning to communities, however, is that the comfort of continuity leaves a lot of room for creativity and novelty. The first time we were in Brockton, we had a vague idea what we were doing. I still can’t say with certainty we know what we were doing this time around, but at least we understand each other, the community, and the tools we have at our disposal a little better. That’s allowed us to expand our reach and be more inclusive in our engagement with the community. The best example of that is the Climate Café we held on August 3. Represented at that event were members of the congregation, members of Stop the Power, the director of the regional chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and members of a youth art group called 77 Souls. Everyone there brought in a different background and insight, and the conversations that took place went in unexpected directions – all of which were amazing. That diversity of experience is truly representative of communities, and it’s what the climate movement needs to look like in a broader context. We would never have been able to make strides in bringing so many different people together if we hadn’t spent so much time learning about Brockton, attending inspiring events like the Unity March, and discovering all of the beautiful things the city has to offer (always with the help of its residents, of course).

Now, as I sit in Kathy Martley’s house almost as if it is my own, I cannot wait for what Burrillville Part II has in store for us. Kathy has taught us so much about what it means to conquer fear and love a place and people with all of your heart. We are lucky enough to be one of the people she has embraced wholeheartedly, and the feelings are returned right back to her!

The sign in front of Kathy's house, welcoming us back into her life for the week!

The sign in front of Kathy’s house, welcoming us back into her life for the week!

Burrillville Against Spectra Expansion is just getting started, and Spectra Energy can’t even begin to imagine the amazing woman and community that are ready to stand up for their right to clean air and water. Brockton’s success has proven to us that communities can fight back and can win, and we’re excited to help Kathy engage her community further so that Burrillville can be another example of that.

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A Bitter Reminder

Posted on behalf of Ariel Schwalb, Community Outreach Coordinator for Team North Shore

Days ago, my North Shore team was conflicted. We had a true dilemma on our hands; we needed to leave Gloucester to start getting some important work done in Marblehead, but a storm was approaching. There was 100% chance of rain, according to Siri.

We sat around in a circle and made a democratic decision about whether to try to leave right now (Sunday morning), or wait out the storm and go tomorrow (Monday morning). We all agreed we needed to get to Marblehead as soon as possible, but I was apprehensive about going out now because I felt that it was too late.

It was too late. By the time we packed up the trailer and headed out, it was downpouring, and lightning was too close for comfort. This simply seemed like a really bad idea. Not only are the roads slippery, flooding possible, and trailers heavy, but we could also get struck by lightning to seal the deal. I was crying; we were done for. Potentially.

As I trudged up a hill that could have been my last, I thought to myself, why am I doing this? Is what we are doing so important that it is worth being active in crazy weather like this? A tornado was happening around the same time closer to Boston.

A photograph of the gas explosion in Taiwan.

A photograph of the gas explosion in Taiwan.

My questions were answered last night when I found out about a gas pipeline explosion in Taiwan that had killed over 27 people, injured 286 and left 2 missing, making it the island’s worst gas leak explosion in history. Of the 27 who were killed, four were firefighters. The streets were covered in rubble; homes lost power in a blackout.

I send my condolences to the families and friends of all the people who lost their lives due to the explosion, and I feel angry because we don’t need to have such dangerous infrastructure in our lives in the first place. Solar and wind power can currently cover all our energy needs. There is no need for gas, much less gas explosions. The emission, spill, and explosion free renewable technology is there; we just need the political will be make it happen.

If I can play a small role in preventing more gas explosions by continuing to fight the Salem gas plant this summer, then I feel honored to bike in lightning storms and face a small danger to prevent others from facing a much larger danger in the future.


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Ready to Rumble

Posted on behalf of Luke Sherman, Public Narrative Coordinator, Team For the MASSes.

It’s 8:30 in the morning, and the scorching July sun is beating down on me.  Sweat is already trickling down my shirt as I anxiously look for the hitch that will allow me to

Myra would save Alissa and Hallie from the terrible Mount Doom hills in Rhode Island and help them bring their bikes and trailers to the top!

Myra would save Alissa and Hallie from the terrible Mount Doom hills in Rhode Island and help them bring their bikes and trailers to the top!

attach one of my team’s two trailers to my teammate’s bike. My groggy group members make their way outside and into the parking lot of the Common Street Church in Natick, Massachusetts, lugging the bins in which we put our medical supplies, food, and gear.

We finally find the missing piece that I have been looking for, and we finalize our preparations to head to a rally in Boston later that morning, where we will meet our fellow Climate Summer riders. Tired, hot, and hungry, I swing my right leg over my bike frame, ready to depart for the day. Looking behind her, my teammate, Hallie, says cheerily and with a smile on her face, “Are we ready to rumble?!”

My experience in Climate Summer has been phenomenal. I feel as though I have grown an incredible amount and have learned so much about myself. I have learned how to work more effectively as a team member, to accommodate other people’s needs and wishes to the best of my ability, and to successfully advocate for myself and my team.  Nevertheless, I have faced challenges, which, in my opinion, are necessary to confront in order to grow as a human being. What have helped me through these challenges are my teammates.

In their own way, each of my teammates has provided me with the crucial support to step out of my comfort zone and to feel as though I am not alone. Using a bike as my sole means of transportation for an entire summer can be very physically exhausting at times, and not being able to enjoy the creature comforts to which I am accustomed to having – such as showers, beds, and, in my case, meat – has made my experience demanding at

My AMAZING teammates and I enjoying our time here in Natick, MA.

My AMAZING teammates and I enjoying our time here in Natick, MA.

times. In addition, taking on new professional roles that I am not used to performing can be similarly exacting – in a good way. Living and working in manners to which I am not habituated has caused me to grow as an individual and to challenge my own beliefs. But in order for growth and reflection to occur, it is imperative to have a strong support network in place.

My team has demonstrated incredible amounts of support and selflessness over the past several weeks. When Alissa and Hallie struggled up several severely steep hills on our way to Rhode Island earlier this summer, pulling the 80 pound­ trailers behind them, Myra would hop off our bike as soon as she reached the apex of the hills, dashing back to push the trailers behind them and give them the extra boost that they needed to reach the top. When Alissa fell ill at the end of July, my teammates took care of her and made sure that she had all that she needed to feel comfortable so that she could recover as quickly as possible. When Alissa and Hallie traveled to Dracut, Massachusetts, to speak at a rally, Kay and Myra woke up at 5:30 in the morning to make the two of them pancakes before their sunrise departure. Numerous other instances of generosity have occurred over the course of this summer.

My Climate Summer team has become something of a family to each other.  When you look past the laughs, the sisterly and brotherly teasing, and yes, even the occasional bickering, we’re here for each other – no matter what. Knowing this has allowed me to feel comfortable stepping outside of my comfort zone, to challenge myself in ways that I didn’t even think possible. This support from my team has allowed me to get up every morning, no matter how sore my legs are from the previous day’s ride. This support has allowed me to rumble.

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Bird Dogging for the Brockton Comm(unity)

Posted on behalf of Kay Young, Team Leader, Team For the MASSes.

       After a grueling bike ride from Natick, MA, through the Blue “Hills” (they felt pretty mountainous) to Brockton,  MA, team For the MASSes was ecstatic to arrive at Christ Congregational Church. Having been so warmly received by this congregation during our previous stay in Brockton,  we all felt like we had returned home. My teammates and I decided to revisit this city to deepen our contributions to the fight to keep the footprint of Brockton Power a blueprint.

       Brockton is an “environmental justice community.” I put those words in quotation marks because just as is the federal mandate for environmental justice, that phrase is vague and subtly misconstrues the fact that communities labeled as such face disproportionate injustice and are in need of environmental justice. As such, Brockton is a city overburdened by the environmental weight of industrial effluent. This whole summer we had been awaiting a decision from the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts that would shed light on two things: precedent for the tangible enforcement of the federal environmental justice mandate and the permitting for water use by Brockton Power. The decision — both a defeat and a victory — has been reached.

The City of Brockton STOPPED the power, and will not let a natural gas power plant invade in their space.

The City of Brockton STOPPED the power, and will not let a natural gas power plant invade in their space.

        The Supreme Judicial Court ruled that Brockton Power does not have the right to utilize Brockton’s drinking water supply to cool the proposed gas-fired plant. Without a source of water, the project is almost certainly halted. Overjoyed by the local victory, we met up with Ed Byers and Justin Kane of Stop the Power (STP) to unpack the Supreme Judicial Court’s ruling and discuss how to proceed. During our meeting, we lamented the state’s negligent ruling on the state of environmental injustice in Brockton and praised the blow dealt to the power plant promoters. Although my teammates and I worked to raise the visibility of the ongoing opposition while we were last in Brockton, we were unsure if we had concretely advanced the mission of  STP. When Ed Beyers told us that we had prompted support from state level organizations and that we were an invaluable asset to their campaign, I was floored. It feels great to be genuinely appreciated by a community partner. We would like to thank Stop the Power for welcoming Climate Summer with open minds and arms. Without the group’s support and insight we would have been wholly  unsuccessful in Brockton.

       Unfortunately, I cannot say that the project is over with certainty because of a particular advocate: Brockton’s own — Mayor Bill Carpenter. Even after the clear defeat spelled out by the court ruling, Carpenter, through a local newspaper called The Enterprise, attempted to spin the decision as a “slam dunk” for the developers. Carpenter’s efforts to influence public opinion were thwarted by STP when STP contacted The Enterprise to suggest a story on the crippling blow that the court dealt to developers. In response to the mayor’s attempt to taint the truth, together with STP, we made a video questioning Carpenter’s intentions. (Watch the video here)

       From the very beginning of our engagement with Brockton we have been aware of the obstacle that Carpenter poses to shutting down all plans to construct the natural gas plant. That is precisely why we have been adamantly attempting to met with the mayor. We thought that we would get that chance after successfully scheduling a meeting with Carpenter on August 7th, but schedule changes have forced us to relinquish our presence at the meeting. Shifting our focus from applying political pressure, we decided to go to an event called the Unity March in Brockton. The march was organized to unite the community against violence and showcase some of the beauty Brockton has to share. As we were locking up our bikes, the rain drizzling steadily, we realized that Carpenter stood only a few feet from us!

Citizens of the great city of Brockton came out on a rainy day to promote peace within the city and celebrate their community.

Citizens of the great city of Brockton came out on a rainy day to promote peace within the city and celebrate their community.

Once we recovered from shock we frantically organized our thoughts and approached the mayor. Being a skilled speaker and politician, Carpenter didn’t answer most-any of our questions. He did, however, let us know that he is the “CEO of Brockton,” and as such his opinion is the opinion of Brockton. Being a representative who won his seat by less than 60 votes, he should more than hesitate to depict himself as so absolutely authoritarian. When asked whether Brockton was an “environmental justice community” he didn’t blink an eye before saying that you can’t compare Brockton to other cities because of its industrial past. Excuse me?! According to the guidelines outlined by the EPA and the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, Brockton is an “environmental justice community.” To be honest, none of us were surprised by what he said or by his refusal to take a picture with us. Safeguarding Brockton from the continued onslaught by hazardous industrial projects will require constant vigilance,  but from the ferocity and compassion that I’ve seen in Brockton, I have no worries.

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The Creek Rises and the Creek Falls

Posted on behalf of Dineen O’Rourke, community outreach coordinator for the Western MA team

Sometimes music hits you in ways that you weren’t expecting nor prepared for. After the beautiful folk sister-duo The Nields played in the West Cummington Church the night we arrived waves of overwhelming emotions poured over me. Their presence on stage was so heartfelt, true, and loving towards each other and the audience members – people with whom they shared community and whom they had known for years. They sang of loving their mothers, of loving our mother, of children growing up, of being angry at injustice, of caring for your neighbors. They sang about the church burning down four years ago and how distraught the town was, and how when one child came up to everyone in their sorrow that early January morning saying “we haven’t lost our songs or our happiness,” they realized they didn’t have to rebuild their memories – just rearrange them. “The creek rises and the creek falls,” they sang. I saw tears in the eyes of those in the audience, and saw the years of connection and warmth they had shared. The way the Nields sisters looked at each other and at everyone in the audience with such comfort and affection – filled me up with a warm sense of community and made visible the power of raw, deep, and loving music.

The Nields performing at the West Cummington church.

The Nields performing at the West Cummington church.

When the show was over I felt torn between being unable to stop smiling and feeling as though I could burst into a hysterical cry. Everything about the evening was truly beautiful; a room filled to the brim with love. As post-show mingling ensued, people came up to us to shake our hands and to offer help wherever it may be needed.
“Oh- you’ll be at our house for dinner on Thursday!”
“And my house for showers and lunch on Wednesday!”
“And you’ll be at Sunday service right? We’ll bring some falafel and rice for dinner!”

After leaving the church I walked down the road to get a better view of the super moon. I sat in the middle of the quiet road and just stared, listening to the creek beside me. I started balling, crying harder than I had in a long time. I felt like punching the pavement I was sitting on. I felt like screaming, like marching up to the clearing Kinder Morgan already created in the woods and yelling at the fist person I saw as I tore up the ground they laid. Yelling, screaming – letting them hear me, letting them hear me say how wrong it all is. How these people sing, cry, and laugh together here. The creek runs along their town, the beautiful Westfield creek that we swam in when we first arrived and the creek that The Nields sing about so beautifully. The creek runs here, not a pipeline. How could someone with a beating heart do such a thing? Rip apart such loving and vibrant communities – people who help others when they need it, people who extend such endless gratitude and give all they can to people they’ve never met. Selfless people! People who sing and tell stories and rejoice together!

The Westfield River in its beauty.

The Westfield River in its beauty.

I felt so angry, so helpless and small, sitting there on the concrete in a town I didn’t know, looking at the moon when it’s at its largest of the year. Do I deserve all this recognition? This is what I’m doing for the rest of my life, but will it get any easier? I feel like I need to yell louder. I feel like I need to cry. I’m so scared. I’m so inspired. I’m so joyful and full of love. I feel like I want to sing. It’s hard, scary, frustrating- but every community is welcoming us with such warm hearts, hands, and healing that it sometimes feels like if we stick together and value the love we share, things will work out.

P.S. Seriously, check out The Nields. They’re so eccentric, entertaining, and full of love.

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Climate Change in Action

Posted on behalf of Myra Sampson, Media Coordinator, Team For the MASSes.

Last Monday, we walked into the basement kitchen of Natick’s Common Street Community Church and found water pouring in through the windows. It was a problem that the church had fixed in the past but was a case in which mother nature had proved stronger. The entire floor was covered in about four inches of water. We spent the better part of the morning sweeping water toward the two drains at either end of the basement. Members of the congregation filtered in and out as the morning progressed, bringing with them different tools to attack the water. By lunch time, there were isolated puddles but nothing a wet/dry vac couldn’t handle. This rain storm was an example of extreme weather that reminded me of the snow we experienced this past winter.

This past winter, I was working Winter Wonderland Weekend at Camp Washington, the sleep away camp where I had spent my summers both as a camper and a counselor, and there was an incredible amount of snow. Any New Englander can attest that last winter was not normal; we were

A snowy day at Camp Washington.

A snowy day at Camp Washington.

hit with snowstorm after snowstorm. That weekend, in order to get the camp ready for the campers who were coming to enjoy the snow, we had to do a lot of snow removal. A coworker and I spent hours shoveling snow away from doors to gain access to the buildings we needed.

Drought and extreme weather are symptoms of climate change, which is perpetuated by our addiction to fossil fuels. These events have become more and more common, and, despite this, there is still a lack of concern among many. It’s hard to maintain my vision of the future I would like to see when there are so many signs of climate change in our everyday lives and there are people

My camp where I've spend countless summers.

My camp where I’ve spend countless summers.

that don’t even know that climate change is a problem. I think about the unfairness of it all. There are so many people that came before me, and their behaviors have contributed to climate change, and yet my generation is the group fighting climate change. It has become our responsibility. It’s a responsibility we take on with the hope of creating a better future because, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” -The Lorax

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Steps to Conquering a Fear

Posted on behalf of Hallie Kenyon, Social Media Coordinator, Team For the MASSes.

Step 1. Recognize that the fear exists.

Step 2. Have an amazing team that supports you and makes you pancakes at 5:30 in the morning.

Step 3.  Meet INCREDIBLE people and communities that give more support toward conquering that fear.

Step 4. Crush that fear like there’s no tomorrow.

Step 5. Buy some hair dye!

Last Saturday, July 26, was Dracut’s turn for the handing off of the petitions signed in opposition to the proposed Kinder Morgan Tennessee Gas Pipeline. This march consisted of communities all across Massachusetts gathering for one cause, to STOP the proposed pipeline.

Community members gathered at the end of the march where myself, Alissa, and others gave speeches.

Community members gathered at the end of the march where myself, Alissa, and others gave speeches.

Team East and Team West have been working very closely with each of these communities, but when the march happened in Dracut, both teams were way too far to bike to it, so Team For the MASSes, specifically Alissa and I, were asked to show up and speak in their place.  That is where my story comes in and how I was able to overcome a challenge I faced this summer.

My fear of public speaking has always been a dark cloud bearing over my conscience.  Every time I have to give a presentation or speak at an event, whether there are three or 30 people there, butterflies are having a field day in my stomach. This time, though, my fear of public speaking overcame me.

Alissa and I were practicing our speeches in the sanctuary of the Common Street Church in Natick, MA, in front of our team, and I felt so helpless and scared of presenting the next day that I couldn’t give a presentation without looking at a sheet of notes or pausing because my mind became blank due to fear. This fear of presenting, of messing up, of looking like a fool overtook my entire soul, and I could not keep myself together.  So that was step one —  Recognizing that I had this fear and actually saying it out loud to myself and my teammates.

Right away step two happened! My team talked me through my fear, ways to relax, and to potentially overcome this blip I was having. My teammates gave me the support I so desperately needed and really helped me gain some confidence. The best part was the hugs we all gave each other, showing that we’re here for one another and that no matter what the situation, there is plenty of support.  Oh, another great thing my team did for Alissa and me was get up at 5:30 a.m. with us in order to make us delicious pancakes!  We had to leave Natick around 6:30 a.m. to make sure we made it the 30-plus miles to Dracut, MA, by 10:30 a.m.

On to step three.  While Alissa and I were participating in the Rolling March, we met so many incredible people! Everyone who came out for this event had common goals, values, and love for one another.  They didn’t care that we weren’t Team East, the team that’s been working with this

Friends, families, and  community members from all over Massachusetts gathered in Dracut for the last leg of the Rolling March.

Friends, families, and community members from all over Massachusetts gathered in Dracut for the last leg of the Rolling March.

town hands on; they cared that we were here and supporting the opposition to the proposed pipeline.  We had amazing conversations with so many of the walkers and were truly inspired by their efforts and the incredible work that they are all doing.

Step four: crush that fear! I was able to do just that! I’ll admit it — it was a rough start.  I could feel myself shaking and my mind starting to go blank, but then I looked out onto my audience and saw friends and familiar faces, Alissa right by my side, and my team with me, albeit only in spirit.  What was more powerful than getting in front of the microphone in front of the dozens of folks was the encouragement I received after the speech. In particular, Jim Cutler gave me advice that I will never forget. I should preface that during my speech I mentioned how public speaking is a struggle for me and that I couldn’t have done it without the support of everyone at the Rolling March event that day. (You can watch the speech here!)

Finally, step five! After coming back from the march, I felt amazing! I know I haven’t completely conquered my public speaking fear, but this is just one giant leap in the right direction.  There is no way I can forget July 26 and the Rolling March in Dracut.  So, why does step five involve hair dye? Well, even days after the event, I still had my accomplishment high going through my head and going into a CVS store, I decided to overcome another fear of mine … changing the color of my hair! A totally different fear but a fear nonetheless. I couldn’t bring myself to go with a drastic color; my hair is dirty blonde so I chose a reddish blonde color. It wasn’t so much the color that I feared but the act of dying my hair and changing my looks.  However, I dyed my hair that night and overcame yet another fear.

This week seemed to have an overlapping theme of conquering fears.  Fears that I finally faced and had to deal with but also fears that have been lingering and will probably always linger; however, the butterflies in my stomach will no longer feast on my nerves.

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The Small Town Community

Posted on behalf of Rachel Eckles, Media Coordinator, Team East

I would like to thank the Community Church of North Orange and Tully for being wonderful hosts to us Climate Summer Riders while we were staying in North Orange last week. Don, Holly, Erin, Jessica, Nate, Sandy, Kate, are just a few of the many who excitedly welcomed us into their community. It made me feel at home to be around such a loving group and they showed me the beauty of a strong community. I’m from a city and I have only ever known a way of living in which you barely know your neighbors well and don’t have much of a community outside of your family and school. Thus, experiencing small town communities during this summer has been inspiring to me. I have found communities in which friendships transcend both age and background and I have seen people who genuinely cared about one another, especially in North Orange at the Community Church.

The turnout to our potluck was great! The line went out the door!

The turnout to our potluck was great! The line went out the door!

At the Blueberry Supper at the church, eleven-year-old Erin stayed after her family had left to hang out and help clean up. I got to talk to her about the pipeline while doing dishes and she was incredibly informed. “If my parents were to leave me the house and I wanted to sell it, I would get an awful deal,” she said knowledgeably as we discussed how the pipeline would affect her family’s property value. She was practically interviewing me when I sat next to her to eat because she wanted to learn more about our summer. Her presence at the church was one of curiosity as she participated in all discussions and listened to us give our presentation on Climate Summer and the pipeline.

After we were done cleaning up, Nicholas was joking about figuring out what was behind a mysterious door in the church and Erin wanted to know too. One of the members of the church went to get a ladder for them to go look and then jokingly pretended to scare Erin about what was up there. While she climbed up the ladder, he kept a close eye to make sure she didn’t fall. He acted in a way similar to the way my dad acts with me – poking fun at me while also being concerned about my safety – and acted like a father or grandfather to Erin while not being related to her at all. After a few laughs and watching a beautiful sunset, Erin finally had to leave after her mother had to call Don, the pastor, to ask her to be sent home.

Erin is an example of what growing up in a supportive and tight-knit community can do for someone. She is confident, intelligent, and eager and I believe that her community at the church has helped to shape her into such an amazing person. What our culture is lacking is more of these supportive systems in which we are introduced to the family beyond those who share our DNA. Thank you to the Community Church of North Orange and Tully for showing me how small town communities can change people and thank you to Don for being such a great pastor for them.

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