Green New Deal Tour comes to Des Moines

Every once in a while I’ll wonder why I was led to call this blog “Quakers, social justice, and revolution”. The Quaker and social justice parts are what I often write about. I would occasionally get hints about the “revolution” part, usually related to moving to a more peaceful or just and/or environmentally sound society. But the halting movements in that direction never seemed to coalesce.

Being part of the First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March was a promising movement in the right direction. I’d always wanted to make friends with Native Americans. The more discouraged and concerned I became about our environmental chaos, the clearer it was that we had to move away from a capitalistic, extractive society. Indigenous people seemed to have never gotten off the path of cultures that honor Mother Earth and each other. Walking together for 8 days on the March was finally the opportunity I was looking for. Now I have friends who can continue to teach me about Native Americans by suggesting books and movies that accurately depict the native people and their beliefs. And friends I can work with on things like Bold Iowa and the Sunrise Movement.

The Sunrise Movement has been fairly quiet for the last few weeks but a LOT has been going on behind the scenes. One of those things was organizing the Green New Deal Tour. Monday, Earth Day 2019, the Tour arrived in Des Moines at the Sheslow Auditorium.

Things got off to a great start when I noticed Jeremy Ornstein walking in front of me. Jeremy has appeared in several Sunrise videos, and ZOOM meetings I attended. As I approached I asked if I could take his picture, and said I had seen several of his videos. With his big smile he said “awesome”!

Jeremy Ornstein

Seeing my friends Trisha and Lakasha on the program is proof that our coming together with the youth of the Sunrise Movement is a revolution that has begun and is rapidly growing. Trisha started to program with a Native prayer. Later she and Lakasha spoke of the need for an Indigenous led Green New Deal.

Sunrise leader Varshini Prakash led the evening program. She said sharing stories is always an important part of a Sunrise gathering. The first story was a video of a young man in Chicago, describing growing up in a poor neighborhood around chemical dumps. He described how he tried to hold his breath as long as possible as he walked past the worst areas.

Iowa Citizens for Community improvement (ICCI) is the leading organization supporting the Sunrise Movement in Des Moines. Bold Iowa has been trying to get involved, but things haven’t worked out, yet.

The next stories were told by Iowans who were adversely affected by Consolidated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) and by factory farms. Billions of gallons of animal waste are produced yearly, fouling the air and soil, getting into water systems. The large factory farms force small farms out of business, which leads to deserted small towns.

We got a surprise teleconference visit by Bill McKibben. He enthusiastically supported the Sunrise Movement.

Bill McKibben

The audience of 450 said we need a Green New Deal.

After talking about next things happening with the Sunrise Movement and Iowa Citizen’s for Community Improvement (more on that later) the evening concluded. I was so happy to see Trisha, Lakasha, Sam, Jon Krieg and Patti McKee as the evening concluded.

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