Editor’s Note:  ICL member Gary Payton is the 2015 recipient of the Keith and Pat Axline Award for Environmental Activism. Gary has written several blogs for ICL detailing his travels to the United Nations convention in Paris on climate change. This spring Gary leaves  Sandpoint in search of new adventures and  experiences in sunny New Mexico. We at ICL are sad to see him leave; his dedication has contributed much to our work. In this last guest blog from Gary, he reflects on the People’s Climate March in Washington, DC, on April 29 and his renewed resolve to protect what matters most.  

On April 29, the 100th day of the Trump presidency, we members of ICL marched in Boise, Ketchum, Moscow and Sandpoint-and we marched in Washington, DC. We marched to protect the planet from the advances of climate change and to resist the injustices of policy decisions harmful to people and the earth.

I took to the streets in our nation’s capital carrying a sign declaring "Make the Planet Great Again!"  Around me were 200,000 men, women and children, each declaring his or her intention to battle a destructive environmental agenda, promote a "green" economy and support the most vulnerable in our society.

If a single theme has emerged among climate activists since the 2016 election, it is that we must break out of our "silos" and find common cause with others who seek justice in our land, especially with the most vulnerable. I credit the organizers of the People’s Climate March with making this new theme real and highly visible. Leading the march down Pennsylvania Avenue were representatives of indigenous and communities most affected by the excesses of the fossil fuel industry. Think North Dakota’s Standing Rock Sioux and the Dakota Access Pipeline. Think African-American communities with their soaring cancer and asthma rates downwind of massive refineries in Port Arthur, Texas. Next came immigrant, Latino, LGBT, and land rights advocates. Government workers, labor and voting rights folks followed. And one week after the March for Science, scientists, educators and health professionals marched as "defenders of the truth." Amidst a swirl of banners came a wave from the worldwide faith community-Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Sikhs, Bahais and more-each believing that stewardship of the planet is a moral duty. Proponents of renewable energy, fossil fuel resistance, Big Green members anchored the march with chants, signs and enthusiasm.

It is one thing to march for climate action down the historic avenue in the U.S. capital. We were surrounded by like-minded people  and bathed in supportive chants, songs, banners and flags all along the route. It is quite another thing for tens of thousands to then sit in silence, encircling the White House and reflecting on executive orders, Cabinet appointments and one’s individual "next step." I believe that it is in the silence that our next best actions emerge.

The 2017 People’s Climate March-whether in DC, Idaho communities, or elsewhere across the nation and around the globe-was about renewed resolve. Resolve that we continue to resist the dismantling of programs and regulations that  protect and restore the planet, that we build sectors of a new economy that  creates family-sustaining jobs, and that we rise to address the threats to the most vulnerable by pulling out of our climate "silo" and making new allies for their justice and our own.

Now back in Sandpoint, I have one more task to wrap up my participation in the DC march. My job is to access climatestewards.org, calculate the carbon emissions of my cross-country travel and make a carbon offset donation. Will you do the same?