Putting a Face on Global Climate Change

Last summer Five String took part in the Dear Tomorrow Project put together by Jill Kubit and Trisha Shrum. At the time he was asked to write a letter to our children in the future discussing global climate change. Five String wrote to our three children about the over indulgence of our generation and how we were never taught that it would negatively affect future generations. How it is time for us to wake up and do everything that we can today to make sure that our children and their children have access to the clean water, air, and food.

Jill Kubit recently gave a TEDNYC talk entittled Climate Change is Personal in which she reads a bit of what Five String wrote to our children. Watch the below video link to see if you can recognize our family walking through Redwood National and State Parks in California.

Jill’s talk and the Dear Tomorrow Project do a great job of bringing a sense of urgency to global climate change. It is easy to dismiss the weekly news stories about increasing carbon emissions and failed climate treaties. However, when you look at your children, grandchildren, or younger friends and realize that they will be bearing the full consequences it motivates you to make changes today. The next time you decide what to eat, what to wear, how to travel, who to vote for please remember that there is a face to global climate change and it is our children, your children, the youth of this world.


Move Out, March for Water


It’s fitting that our final day in Helena, Montana involved a march in support of clean water and demanding the Army Corps of Engineers not issue permits for the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) which is slated to cross the Missouri River (the source of our drinking water). When we first arrived in April we barely had time to unpack before heading to a march for Bernie Sanders’ bid for the presidency (oh, what could have been), so we  were excited to join a hundred others in Helena to stand in solidarity with the brave water protectors on the front lines at the Sacred Stone Camp.

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Today’s day of action, one of more than 200 similar events worldwide, focused on raising awareness on Helena’s busy Route 12 and rallying in front of the Army Corps of Engineers Office. It was great to see the countless waves and hear the cheers and honks from passing cars, and several people who were unfamiliar with the NODAPL movement stopped to ask why were all were gathered on a Tuesday afternoon. State Troopers even drove by and took everyone’s picture with a tablet; apparently families standing on a sidewalk are a threat and need to be fed into a terrorism database.

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From there we marched to the Max Baucus Federal Building, only to learn the Army Corps of Engineers office was “closed” and there was no one to receive the message from our delegation. Department of Homeland Security officers watched from inside as we made our message of “Water is Life” and “Stop the Pipeline” loud and clear. In the end no one made it past the front desk, but we knew it was important to be there exercising our right to have a say in what happens on public land, land taken from the Lakota people (and whose “undisturbed use and occupation” of the surrounding lands is enshrined by the federal government in the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty). It would take just one spill to pollute the drinking water for millions of people, so we couldn’t think of a more important place to be today fighting for the future.

Dear Tomorrow: A Digital Time Capsule of Climate Change

Through our involvement in the Montana Moms Clean Air Force we were made aware of a truly remarkable project. Dear Tomorrow is an archive of letters participants write to their loved ones about climate change, which will then be released in 2030 and 2050 to both the recipients and the general public. We found the process of drafting a letter to the Younger Fives to be an extremely challenging yet inspiring process. Climate change is definitely on our minds as parents but putting our thoughts and intentions into words was no small task. Doing so, however, helped crystallize our commitment to act, knowing that our kids will have the opportunity to read our letters as adults. As parents we do a countless number of things each day to keep our kids safe and healthy; adding a few more to reduce our impact on the planet and push for collective climate action is a small but meaningful way to provide for their future.

While creating a DearTomorrow letter, photo, or video is a transformative experience, we’ve also been inspired by reading others’ contributions. We’ve included our letter below as well as others that provide a powerful snapshot of what climate change means to families; click an image to read more. 

Finally, DearTomorrow is in the running for the Judge’s Choice award at the MIT Climate CoLab Conference in September. You can vote for them at the Conference web site (it just requires a super quick sign-up process).


Democracy in the Park


For the past several months, we’ve been experiencing our democracy in a whole new way. Instead of watching as spectators, we’ve been energized to donate and volunteer for the presidential campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders, calling citizens all over the United States to help get out the vote (with the Younger Fives listening in and helping to code the calls) . When we heard this weekend that Bernie was making a campaign stop in Montana, we knew this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity we couldn’t miss out on.


From this…


…to this.

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We knew the logistics of making the day a success would be a challenge. Hours waiting in line is a tall order for kids (and adults too), but Five Spice had the foresight to make the case for the Missoula rally over the Billings one (earlier in the day, in a park, shorter drive) and found us a hotel right next door so we didn’t have to drive from Helena on the same day as the rally. Also thanks to Five Spice, we had awesome Bernie t-shirts that she had made for the march a few weeks ago in Bozeman. It’s amazing what a computer printed design, traced onto freezer paper, cut out to make a stencil, adhered with an iron and tape, and filled in with fabric paint, can do!


Caras Park the day before the rally.


The view at 6:30 a.m. on the big day.


Five of Hearts counting the crowd size.


The line stretched from the bike path, along the city streets, and back over the bridge across the Clark Fork River.


After a 5:30 a.m. wake-up call, we joined a few dozen other people in line at 6:30. The crowd didn’t stay small for long, though. Five of Hearts passed the time by making a count, and she calculated the people waiting had grown to almost 50 people by 7:00 a.m and over 500 by 8:00. All in all, over 9,000 people came to hear Bernie speak, and over 4,000 couldn’t even get into Caras Park after it reached capacity. 


Our spot, front and center


Passing the time



Bernie arrives!


Fortunately, we didn’t have that problem and were one of the first ones in when security started letting the crowd through at 10:00. We found a prime spot up against the front barricade and parked ourselves there for another 2.5 hours before Bernie took the stage at 12:30 p.m. The Younger Fives did an AMAZING job waiting patiently, even more incredible considering we couldn’t bring bags, food, or liquids in with us. They managed to find ways to pass the time, mainly by keeping journals and filling in Mad Libs. From start to finish, they held it together for eight and a half hours with taking only about 50 steps from our spot in line outside the park to our place right in front of the stage. Go Younger Fives!

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Bernie’s more than hour-long speech was pure inspiration. It’s easy to see why so many younger people support Bernie because his bold vision for the future is certainly one we Fives want for our kids and future grandchildren. He made the point that 100 years ago women couldn’t vote, but women and their male allies worked tirelessly to redefine what it meant to be a women and earned women full participation in the political process in 1920. 60 years ago segregation was the law of the land, but the nonviolent efforts of African Americans and their allies finally brought us a step closer to the promise of equal opportunity for all. 10 years ago same-sex marriage seemed like an impossible goal, yet through the efforts of the LGBT community and their allies same-sex marriage has been affirmed nationwide for over a year. Just a few years ago the fight for a $15-dollar-an-hour minimum wage seemed like pie in the sky, but through the efforts galvanized by fast-food workers this has now been signed into law in states like New York and California. Right now Bernie’s platform of universal health care as a right, tuition-free public college, responding to climate change like the threat that it is, equal pay for women (and so many other common-sense issues) might seem too ambitious, but history has shown that when people come together. we can move mountains. 

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Republicans like Donald Trump have a bold (but horrifying) vision for the future, and the best way to counter it is to offer an equally bold alternative. The kind of small-step, incrementalist approach the Democratic Party has embraced time and time again only ends in demoralizing and disengaging progressives. The New Deal (the much maligned “democratic socialism” Bernie embraces) brought us child-labor laws, Social Security, and rebuilding American’s infrastructure, things we all benefit from to this day. For us Fives, asking the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share so the government can do its job of protecting (i.e. fire departments, clean environment) and empowering (i.e. public education, transportation infrastructure) its people seems far from radical; instead, it is reaffirming the best of American values.

DSC01578 DSC01581The end of the rally couldn’t have been more surprising for us. After wrapping up with his speech, both Bernie and Jane Sanders took the time to talk with the crowd. Not only did we get to shake hands with both of them, but Five of Heart’s journal / crowd count log turned into an autograph book as both Bernie and Jane were kind enough to sign it. Were we Feeling the Bern after our day in Missoula? You better believe it!

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Act in Paris


Like countless people in 175 countries around the world, we’ve been busy the last few days preparing for our local Global Climate March on Sunday, November 28th. The United Nations climate summit starts this week in Paris, and we are absolutely convinced that this summit represents our last good chance to provide our children and our children’s children with a world not plagued by chronic drought, famine, and war. The horrific attacks in Paris only reinforce the urgency of climate action. The connection to Syria has been at the forefront of the discussion about the violence that claimed at least 130 lives, and given the unmistakable influence of climate-change related events on intensifying volatile situations like those in Syria, the ripple effects will only be increasing over time.


Five String’s Poster for the March


Five Spice’s Poster for the March

World leaders have the opportunity (and duty) to go beyond pledges and commit to action. NASA’s carbon counter calculates the amount of carbon in the atmosphere is presently 401.58 parts per million, above the 350 parts per millions the scientific community advises is the ceiling for a planet hospitable to humans. The vast bulk of fossil fuels must stay in the ground, never to be burned, and this is something oil companies can only be coerced into doing through government action and popular pressure. A just transition to 100% renewable energy is the other piece of the puzzle, with the richest countries most responsible for the carbon in the atmosphere paying their fair share to helping all countries adapt.


High Five’s Poster for the March (“Stop Climate Change! Team Work!”)


Five Ball’s Poster for the March


Five of Heart’s Poster for the March

From Parksville, Canada (where we’ll be attending a march) to Phitsanulok, Thailand, there are over 2,000 planned marches across the world on Sunday (though the one in Paris has been canceled by the government due to security concerns). The companies that stand to benefit from the short term burning of fossil fuels (the oil, coal, and natural gas industry) and from the long term havoc of a world fighting over scarce resources (weapon manufacturers, etc.) already have an army of lobbyist to ensure politicians hear their side. It will take a sustained surge of popular expression to drown out the pleas for profit in favor of the outcome our children and our planet need. Tomorrow’s just the beginning, but it’s going to take all of us to achieve the improbable.