By Kirk Smothers, Upper Division Director
The MMFS community joined the PEOPLE’S CLIMATE MARCH on Sunday, September 21, 2014. Mary McDowell Friends School joined thousands of other organizations in sending community members to join the largest climate march in history.
At its peak, the group of approximately fifty students, parents, faculty, and administrators from all divisions of the school joined marchers from Brooklyn Friends School and Friends Seminary to provide a unified voice among NYC’s Quaker schools. In addition to those marching with the Friends schools groups, other MMFS students and families marched with other organizations such as their individual faith communities, volunteer organizations, summer camps, and workplaces. With approximately four hundred thousand marchers in total, the event was much bigger than anticipated and it took much longer to get started than expected.
Marchers for the three groups met at 10:30 a.m. in the outer courtyard of Friends Seminary in Manhattan, and then travelled to 81st Street, where we joined the section of the debate named “The Debate is Over.” Over the three hour period of waiting for the crowd to move at 81st Street, our marchers met participants from the other schools and nearby groups. This also provided an opportunity for visits from former faculty and other friends.
The most poignant point of the march was when hundreds of thousands of people raised their arms into the air for a moment of silence. As Silent Meeting often does, it gave us all the chance to stop and reflect on our individual and collective places in the march, and to consider our united conviction of the need to slow down climate change and reverse the negative effects of national, industrial, and personal practices that will otherwise have catastrophic effects.
Just after 2:00 pm, the movement of the four mile long crowd reached 81st Street, and we slowly made our way down Central Park West toward Columbus Circle, the official starting point, and continued on down the march route. For the day, all eyes were on NYC, including the more than one hundred world leaders who were in town for the historic climate summit beginning September 23rd in our city.
Mary McDowell Friends School participants were proud and encouraged to take part in this completely peaceful, massive event, intended to draw attention to climate issues that have profound implications for all of us, and we hope that a momentum has been created that gives world leaders both the clarity of vision and the courage to foster significant change.