Last Friday, I packed up a rented minivan with my ten-year-old daughter, Summer, as well as two friends and their young daughters. With handmade signs in tow, we headed from Brevard, North Carolina to Washington, D.C. for the Forward on Climate Rally to join people from all over the country in calling on President Obama to take action on climate change. Our task was to make sure that protecting forests was a part of the message.
We arrived in DC late, but the excitement of being in the nation’s capital overshadowed our exhaustion as we drove past the Washington Mall, pointing out the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument. We checked into our hostel, where we immediately met two young women traveling abroad from Scotland and England. Our daughters were quick to tell the young women about the rally, and, as they were both studying environmental policy in college, they vowed to be there. (Those girls are natural organizers!)
The next day we read the news stories and viewed the pictures on the Facebook pages of 350.org, Sierra Club and the Hip Hop Caucus. Out of 50,000 people, a picture of us holding our signs, was posted on 350.org’s wall (1 of 18 photos posted)! In the midst of thousands of signs focused on ending the use of fossil fuels, there were our colorful, handmade signs, carrying the message of forest protection!
In the end, I couldn’t think of a better and more appropriate way for my daughter to see the nation’s capitol for the first time. It was truly an inspiring and experiential education in democracy. I hope one day she can look back on this experience and say with confidence that she was there when the pendulum in the US began to shift towards clean energy, the protection of forests, water and air as well as economic justice for all. But, most of all, I hope she remembers that the voice of her moral compass when combined with the actions of her spirit are her most powerful forces for positive change.