A chunk of the atmosphere, fresh off the Atlantic Ocean, hit the south side of Long Island and squeezed itself into the Upper New York Bay. After careening around curve of Bay Ridge Brooklyn it whipped passed the Statue of Liberty and made its way uptown by way of the Hudson River. Gaining momentum as it left the city behind this chunk of atmosphere continued along the Hudson River, scattering the autumn leaves at its banks and stirring up the water.
A stiff wind knocked me from the south as I left the shelter of the trees and stepped onto the former railroad track turned world’s longest pedestrian footbridge, The Walkway over the Hudson. What a sight for the sore eyes of a grad student who’d spent the last 42 hours agonizing over T-scores, P-values and variances. The early afternoon light glinted off the river and backlit the fall foliage, making the trees look like stained glass windows. I clutched a clipboard to my chest with one arm and maintained control of my poster with the other in high hopes that I could make it to the middle of the bridge without letting the lively wind blow away the real reason I came.
I was there to talk to people about climate change, to stir up some conversation and hopefully to inch the world towards what climate activists are calling the “tipping point”, the moment where the support for climate action begins growing exponentially and the movement becomes so strong that leaders around the world have no choice but to take notice and action. Luckily for me all I had to do was show up with my pitch and a sign-up sheet for the Power Dialog. The aptly named event, Walkway to Paris had been nicely organized and thoroughly promoted by a coalition of citizen and activist groups as a lead up to the Paris Climate Summit and a way to show support for strong climate action by the U.S. All along the footbridge various environmental organizations had staked their territory with posters and were talking with pedestrians about their passions and organizations. I did the same, and felt very heartened by the amount of interest and support I got about the Power Dialog. Not only was I able to spread information about the Clean Power Plan, but in turn I was also inspired by others who understood the importance of environmental activism and were out in the world promoting awareness in their own way. Most memorable, was the conversation I had with four enthusiastic high school girls who were campaigning vehemently for solar panels to be installed on their school campus. Their spunk gave me confidence that we are in fact reaching the tipping point of climate action and that, at this moment, every chance to spark conversation about climate issues is vital to push climate action permanently on to the international and domestic agendas.
And that is really what the Power Dialog is all about after all, creating a powerful moment where thousands of people across the nation add their voices to the conversation and bring us that much closer to the tipping point. After several great discussions and lots of mentions about the future we are all heading to, my hair was thoroughly windswept and my chest was full of positive energy. I made my way back across the bridge and to my car, leaning in to the gale force wind and enjoying the edge of excitement it added to the conversations I’d had that day.
Below is a link to a Power Dialog video by Eban Goodstein. We ask anyone and everyone to share this video across their social media and help us generate a very powerful conversation come April!
By: Meredith LaValley