By Molly Greenfield
(Photos by author and TPC alumna, Rachel Mazzaro)
Work trips are the best, especially when they bring you to New York City. NYC is only an hour and a half drive from Philly — how wild is that?! The weekend before last, I was fortunate enough to be part of a historic and inspiring day: the largest climate march ever on the books, topping 300,000 people. The People’s Climate March took place to put pressure on policy makers at the upcoming UN summit to make a commitment to pursuing climate friendly policies.
There was more than the predicted ‘green organizations’ in attendance. The organization that I marched with called for not only climate change, but human and system change. I was proud to be among a ragtag group of activists shouting, “Carbon cuts not welfare cuts!” and, “THIS is what the climate movement looks like!” Our message was that our current systems, whether those are our sources of energy or how we provide for our citizens, are not doing enough. We have to do more. Climate change is inextricably linked with social change. If we choose climate change and forget about social change, we’ve lost. We need our poor, and our poor need us. So I marched, and I chanted, and I carried on my back a sweet six-year-old girl of one of the families of my organization, because she is who I am chanting for, and she is who the system has forgotten.
It was a long weekend. We arrived on Friday afternoon and hosted a hundred or so people in a church (sleeping on the floors of course) for the conference that preceded the march. I was a busy intern, giving directions to various breakout sessions, working security for the church, doing check-ins and check-outs, coordinating lunch and meeting times, and more. It was cool to be able to take on such responsibility and know that I am capable of doing so. My professional confidence grows week-to- week. Our bus arrived back to Philly late, I hopped on the subway, and made it home around midnight only to get up and start my work week at my other internship early the next morning! Some weeks are about embracing the chaos.
The march is over, the chaos has quieted, and I am back in what now feels like my small, quaint city (also known as the 5th largest city in the United States). I know that I have a lot of personal work to do to leave less of a carbon footprint than I have begun to build, but I am enjoying living in a city that allows me to walk and use public transportation. I am cutting down on carbon emissions, saving gas money, and crafting some good-looking calves. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, the average American is responsible for about 21 tons of carbon emissions annually. “If every American cut those emissions by 20 percent over the next year, it would be the equivalent of shutting down a third of the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants.” (Negin, The People’s Climate March is over—Now What?)