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Environmental activists wanted

Letter to the Editor | Thursday, November 1, 2007

This is an invitation, a call to action, a request for help. Here’s the deal: A little over a month ago I agreed to do something I’d never done before – organize a rally. It was to be one of hundreds across the country as part of the national Step It Up movement launched by author and environmental advocate Bill McKibben. The idea was to demonstrate a grassroots commitment to slow the engines of global warming, to reduce carbon emissions, stop new coal-fired power plants and to develop green jobs and initiatives. I had written about our relationship with nature plenty. I had talked about it a lot. But I had never done anything about it, and now here I was asked to be an activist.

After I talked myself into saying “yes,” I wondered if it’d be a Notre Dame event or a South Bend action. I’m a Notre Dame graduate and I work at the University. But I’ve also lived in South Bend a long time. So I finally decided to make it both – to bring the campus and the community into a joint endeavor, to find the common ground of environmental activism, to acknowledge that we share these concerns with people locally and that we are citizens of the world.

The Green Up! Step It Up! rally will take place this Sunday. We’ll have participation from local environmental groups, Green Party political candidates and faculty and students from IUSB, Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s. A group from IUSB will march from that campus to the Jon Hunt Plaza in downtown South Bend, right in front of the Morris Performing Arts Center. And there’ll be others coming from other places.

One important leg of the march will be from the Notre Dame campus to the Jon Hunt Plaza downtown. The walk begins at 3 p.m. at Main Circle. It’ll proceed down Notre Dame Avenue to South Bend Avenue where it’ll turn right at Club 23, head down hill, then cross the St. Joe River bridge on Colfax. I’ve been encouraged by the enthusiasm for green efforts on campus this fall. I’m hoping the momentum keeps rolling.

I like the symbolism of marchers coming together downtown. I want everyone to remember that it’s one community, one sky, one planet. We’ll have some speakers – representatives from different groups and interests, as well as an expected visit from Rep. Joe Donnelly. I’m hoping that, in addition to our presence making a statement about the importance of this community’s response to global warming, we all come away with new ideas, new motivations and new connections with like-minded people.

It’d be great to have a strong Notre Dame/Saint Mary’s contingent. In fact, despite trying to dissuade the South Bend police from the inconvenience of having officers present, there will be a few police escorts … so I sure hope the group is big enough to warrant their trouble. So please come out, carry a sign and join the movement.

The thing is, this environmental challenge is real, it’s upon us and it’ll mean finding many solutions to some complex issues. The issues are practical, real-life and fundamental; they’re also matters of theology, spirituality and social justice. And as we have watched the response of big business and our government, it has become clear that this environmental challenge will also require the commitment of individuals coming together in solidarity to make a change.

Kerry Temple

Notre Dame Magazine

Oct. 31