The following is a guest post by NRDC Midwest Program Assistant Mary Hanley
Some days, working to increase environmental awareness and effect productive policy on environmental issues can feel like chipping away at a very large rock: hard work and little immediate gratification. Fortunately, other days serve as reminders of why the work of environmental action groups like NRDC is so important.
This past weekend, I represented NRDC at the Moving Planet event in St. Paul, Minnesota. This was one over 2000 events in 175+ countries as part of a “day to move beyond fossil fuels” created by Bill McKibben’s 350.org. September 24, 2011, was a day not just of action, but of solidarity. Before this event, I had not been fully exposed to the incredible variety of individuals and organizations involved in the environmental movement, working together to achieve greater environmental awareness and concern. Over 5,000 individuals turned out for Moving Planet, either as presenters or as activists hoping to learn more about environmental efforts in Minnesota and the Midwest. One major part of the event was a mass bicycle ride from Minneapolis to St. Paul, ending on the lawn of the Minnesota state capitol. There, the cyclists joined other activists to sing, dance, learn about local environmental organizations, and express their desire to see solutions to climate change, both in state and federal governments and in society at large.
For me, the most beneficial aspect of participating in Moving Planet was the opportunity to discover and learn about other organizations’ efforts to find solutions to climate change. Environmental organizations represented at the St. Paul Moving Planet event included: the Sierra Club; the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy; Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light, which organized a 500-person interfaith procession to call for a response to climate change; and the Alaska Wilderness League. Besides my personal edification, this event provided an excellent opportunity for NRDC to reach out to Minnesotans and share what NRDC is doing in the Midwest and nationally to protect and promote environmental regulations, with the potential to attract a few new members as an added bonus.
All things considered, Moving Planet was a success: it connected individuals and communities and strengthened efforts to demand solutions to climate change at every level of government and society.