In April, it’s time to March

By Jackie Stark

On the 100th day of the Trump Administration, people will take to the streets in Washington, D.C., to send a message—that the health of the earth goes beyond politics.

Hoping to echo or even exceed the People’s Climate March, when 400,000 people marched through the streets of New York City on September 21, 2014, on the eve of the U.N. Climate Summit, the march in D.C. currently has more than 500 partner organizations involved. Sister marches are also planned around the country, and a few in other nations, with officially registered cities appearing on the People’s March website.

Marquette will play host to one of those sister marches. Natasha Koss, community organizer for the event, said the march will hopefully raise awareness in the immediate area on work to being done to combat climate change.

“Our hope is to raise awareness around the things that are happening here and the way people can get involved,” Koss said.

The event will begin at 9:45 a.m. on Saturday, April 29, when people can gather at the Marquette Commons in downtown Marquette. Beginning at 10 a.m., marchers will make their way down the multi-use path to Seventh Street. From there, they will head down Washington Street all the way to Lake Superior, when they will take the multi-use path back to the commons. There, booths will be set up from a variety of local organizations that deal with the environment. There will also be food and music.

“We’re seeing this event as one way to bring attention to all the good things that are happening in our community, in addition to also creating awareness around what the administration in Washington is doing to do the opposite,” Koss said.

April Lindala, director of NMU’s Center for Native American Studies, said this march is one way to send a strong, unified message. With indigenous culture so closely intertwined with a healthy earth, Lindala said now is the time to join with people who also understand the importance of keeping the environment clean for generations to come.

“That’s why this topic of climate is especially important and we want to be represented because of that fact that, oftentimes, even though our voices may be small in numbers, they’re mighty in message,” Lindala said. “This is one way that we can do that and work side by side along with those individuals who believe as strongly about that as we do.”

And though protests and marches and politics in general have become an ever-increasing, divisive issue in American culture, the health and safety of the environment is not something that can be ignored because people may be tired of hearing about it.

“(Marching) puts the position of the message to the public, to the community, to those who may be exhausted from the election this year—being as exhausting as what it was—but that doesn’t mean these issues go away. That doesn’t mean the importance of protecting our water goes away,” Lindala said. “We’re so close to this beautiful fresh lake, one of the most prominent pieces of water in the whole globe. We have to protect it and we have to make this position of being a unified public group known.”

Lindala and Koss both stressed the march was open to any wishing to learn more about how they can play a role in protecting the environment.

“Whatever your political affiliation, religious affiliation, socio-cultural background, anything, we all share this home and we all need water,” Lindala said. “Come and join us, come and be a part of it, come and learn more, come and meet people who have a like mind.”

Another march is also planned in April, with a slightly different focus, though it also coincides with a day of planned national marches. The American Indian Science and Engineering Society, an NMU student group, is hosting the March on Science on Earth Day, Saturday, April 22.

“That student organization wanted to take the lead in planning that local march in honor of the big march that’s happening nationwide on that day,” Lindala. “Part of their calling to do that is in alignment with American Indian people’s, tribal people’s need for not just science but science that is respectful inquiry in relation to how to solve this tremendously huge issue of climate and taking care our earth.”

For more information on either march, visit the national webpages, peoplesclimate.org and marchforscience.org.

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