David Maar is a 2010 graduate of the Prout School, a resident of South Kingstown when he’s not at school and currently studying at Unity College. He’s attending a rally in Washington, D.C. this weekend and writing about it on his own blog, and he’s given us permission to re-publish the posts here.
In less than 12 hours I will be on a bus with 34 other classmates and climate riders, heading to Washington D.C. for the climate rally. The saying that, great things come in small packages, couldn’t be more true, when it comes to Unity College. For many college students a long weekend is a chance to go home or get their extra needed sleep. Here at Unity it is a chance for me to go out and make a difference in the world, it is a chance for me to stop a dangerous pipeline, it is a chance for me to make people aware of the realities of climate change.
The path to becoming an environmental advocate began when I was looking at colleges. My junior year at Prout, I wrote a paper on the environment and economics. I used President Carter’s dedication of the solar panels on the White House quote as the introduction to my paper.
“In the year 2000 this solar water heater behind me, which is being dedicated today, will still be here supplying cheap, efficient energy … A generation from now, this solar heater can either be a curiosity, a museum piece, an example of a road not taken or it can be just a small part of one of the greatest and most exciting adventures ever undertaken by the American people.”
Soon after I had submitted the paper, I was on my way to Unity College in Maine to take a campus visit. It wasn’t my first choice, I wanted to be a meteorologist. But then I arrived on campus and looked at the cafeteria roof, there before my eyes, were the Carter Solar Panels. This small college in the middle of Maine, had gotten those solar panels out of mothballs and were alive and well at this college. I never realized then how one quote, one paper, and one trip could change the direction of my life.
My freshman year, on the first day of classes, a group of students along with Bill McKibben took one of those solar panels to President Obama, a trip referred to it as Put Solar On It, to request the President to put solar on the White House. Some will say it wasn’t successful, because solar is still not on the White House, but leaders around the world took notice and put solar on their government buildings.
That same year I went to Powershift, a youth climate movement, and met students from around the world all concerned about our environment. It left me inspired and hungry for more. Van Jones reminded us back then, “While they are stuck on stupid in D.C., your generation is rising.”
My sophomore year, was even better. I took a course that allowed me to work on those Carter solar panels. As a hockey player, this was the Stanley Cup of Environmentalism. I attended an international conference on energy and security and went to another statewide conference on energy. My high moment came when there was a call for action to protest the Keystone Pipeline in D.C. (See my blog about “what democracy looks like.”) It was my first real protest, and it had gotten under my skin.
So now as a junior, I am getting ready to become a climate rider and join thousands of others in D.C on Sunday for the climate rally.
We represent Unity College, the first college to divest its endowment from fossil fuels, but we also represent other Americans that want a greener future. We represent those indigenous tribes whose lands have been polluted and taken in the name of tar sands. We represent those local farmers that don’t want their land contaminated. We represent our future! Our signs are made, our clothes are packed, our electronics are charging.
I am resting my voice until tomorrow, because I know I will need it for all of the chants and cheers. Especially for all of the speakers that we will hear – Bill McKibben, Michael Brune, Van Jones, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Maria Cardona, the Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Chief Jacqueline Thomas of the Saik’uz First Nation, and Crystal Lameman of the Beaver Lake Cree First Nations;
Tomorrow, I am going to be a part of the largest climate movement in the history of the United States. Tomorrow, I will become a stronger voice in the climate movement. Tomorrow, I will learn new lessons, and not have forgotten of the lessons learned by the path not taken. Tomorrow, I will have made new friends.
So today, I let the excitement build, realizing the time is near, realizing it is time for a new path, and that I am at the forefront of it all.