For the past few days, I’ve had a cold that keeps getting worse. Now it’s down deep in my lungs, and so I decided that rather than risk bronchitis, I better hadn’t go to New Hampshire today.
You see, a whole bus-load of people from New Bedford are heading up to New Hampshire to team up with the Carbon Coalition/ New Hampshire Citizens for a Responsible Energy Policy. They’ll meet up at the Climate Action Center in Manchester this afternoon, and then head over to Saint Anselm College in Manchester to be present outside the site where the televised candidates’ debates will take place. (For the record, the Carbon Coalition is working with the League of Conservation Voters.) Two weeks ago, someone suggested that a bunch of New Bedfordites head up to join the Carbon Coalition. In just two short weeks, organizers Annie Hayes and John Magnan got more than thirty people to sign up.
Even though the two of us couldn’t go, Carol and I made sure we were present at the gathering place to give everyone else a big send-off. By 11:35, people started gathering. As you’d expect, there were a good number of students, from UMass Dartmouth, Bristol Community College, and out-of-town colleges. But the majority of those going were older people: businessmen and businesswomen, people who work in the non-profit world, retired people, and even a reporter for the New Bedford Standard-Times.
Someone from WBSM, one of our local radio stations, showed up to do interviews. From Carol, who used to be a reporter and is still a freelance writer, I have learned that media people appreciate it if you introduce them to good interviewees. So I introduced the pleasant fellow from WBSM to Annie Hayes, since she was one of the key organizers; and to some of the students I know (I saw him interviewing Elise and Dani and some others); and to John Bullard, a long-time environmental activist, whom I knew could give an articulate and cogent overview of why these people were going to New Hampshire.
The bus showed up right on time. Appropriately, the logo of the bus company was a waving American flag –what could be more American than keeping America beautiful for coming generations? –what could be more American than participating in the democratic process? The cargo compartment of the bus got loaded up with signs and chairs and blankets and banners. Everyone filed on and found a place to sit. A few late-comers hurried aboard.
The man from WBSM wondered if he could get a recording of everyone chanting, so since I have a big loud voice I got everyone’s attention and passed on his request. Someone on the bus started chanting something like “Clean air, green jobs!” (Being from New Bedford, with its high unemployment rate, we are all in support of jobs creation and we know that green technology has the potential of creating lots of jobs for cities like ours.) Then someone started chanting, “What does democracy look like? This is what democracy looks like!”
This indeed is what democracy looks like: a busload of ordinary citizens going to tell the politicians what issues are of greatest importance. We can only hope that the politicians listen to us ordinary citizens, and not to the lobbyists from the oil and automobile industries.
John Magnan, one of the organizers, was the last person on the bus. He politely thanked me for seeing them off. “Maybe you should give us a blessing before we go,” John said. “Oh wait, you’re a Unitarian Universalist minister, I guess you don’t do blessings.” We both laughed. For my part, I figure the only blessing they needed was having some people see them off and wish them well: if you can’t engage in direct political action yourself, the least you can do is support those who can.
If you’re one of the ones who went on the bus, leave a comment and tell us all how it went!