Protect our winters

Professor Carrie Waara marched in New York against climate control.
Photo provided by Carrie Waara

I think I was the only one at the climate march wearing snowflake deely boppers.  People on my bus nicknamed me “Snowflake” and said I was easy to spot in the crowds. Surprising numbers of people on the street and in the march told me “I like your sign!  May I take a picture?”  
My sign said, “SNOW IS C.O.O.L” on one side, “CO2 LOWERING IS C.O.O.L.” on the other, with “snowflakes” I cut out of white paper. Whenever someone else had a sign about snow or winter, we nodded knowingly at one another, thumbs up, like the holder of the “PROTECT OUR WINTERS” professionally designed banner.  I thought of the many Castleton riders and skiers who’d appreciate that.
And that’s what struck me over and over that day in New York — there are so many people resisting climate change for so many reasons: farmers, flood victims, young families, labor organizers, social workers, economists, scientists, college students…
Everyone can think of at least one thing they would really miss if global warming isn’t stopped.
It was the biggest and best street party I have ever experienced. I marched with folks from Berkshire County, Mass., where I’m from. The Berkshire Bateria, a samba percussion group, came with us. Their Brazilian beat kept everyone feeling energized and dancing the whole four miles through Manhattan.  What a positive feeling to be part of a huge crowd glad to be together and united around this important issue.
I can’t help but think about the week before the march, when I sat wiping tears from my face in a darkened Herrick Auditorium.  I had arranged to show the film “Disrupt. Climate. Change” for free to the Castleton community during N-period. I’m a sap, so what started my tears was the part of the film that shows inner-city New York high school students getting ready to participate in the march. It moved me to see young Americans so engaged with such an important global cause.  
And my heart was also breaking because only four Castleton students showed up for the film – all of them current or former students of mine. I asked my friend Elizabeth, a retired organic farmer, why she keeps going to these marches, and she said, “Because it gives me hope.”
So I went, desperate for hope.
Near the end of the march, I met the coolest group of young people from Minnesota.  They had been on a bus for 24 hours, marched for five hours, and were getting back on the bus right afterward, yet they warmly asked why I liked snow.  When I answered that I had lived part of my life in Alaska, one of them literally jumped for joy and told me all about the seven weeks he’d spent this past summer hiking and studying the Alaska Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.  
I found hope.  
-Carrie Waara


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