Reflections from the Climate March
It was hot. Really hot. The kind of super-humid East Coast heat that immediately permeates clothing, leaving you sticky and just a little out of breath. The irony of marching for climate change awareness on a day with record-breaking heat wasn’t lost on us as we gathered with 200,000 like-minded folks in the heart of Washington, D.C., on Saturday, April 29. The air’s heaviness wasn’t near enough to weigh down our spirits, however. Singing, chanting, and waving homemade signs, the mass of humanity overwhelmed the streets, creating a brightly colored tidal wave that eventually surrounded the White House and its stoic, machine-gun-toting secret service agents with a singular message.
One of the most striking things about the march was the diversity of attendees. People of all ages, races, sexes, and walks of life had turned out in force — no single group dominating the demographics. Fueled by the Trump administration’s refusal to even acknowledge, let alone fight, climate change, our motivation was exacerbated by his two most recent executive orders. Signed just hours before the march, they threaten to remove protection for over 20 national monuments and open up previously protected coastlines to drilling. These latest slaps in the face of common sense were yet another stinging lash, driving people to travel from all over the world to raise their fists in defiance. Among them were a contingent from the outdoor industry, including folks from Protect Our Winters, Patagonia, and KEEN.
I marched alongside KEEN Ambassadors Caroline Gleich, Krystle Wright and Jeremy Collins, who’d created the artwork for Protect Our Winters’ signs and t-shirts, and KEEN graphic designer Alie Kouzoukian. For those of us passionate about protecting our environment, the months since November have been harrowing to say the least. To be carried in this sea of positivity and rational thinking’s current was both inspiring and re-energizing, an antidote to frustration and cynicism.
Hundreds of thousands of people marched, not just in Washington but also nationwide, for the climate. But what do we do now? Showing up is important, but it’s also just a start. As a friend from Patagonia’s conservation crew told me, people have to be a part of a movement for it to be a movement. Reach out to local conservation groups and find out how you can get involved. More importantly, start with yourself, and lead by example. It’s as simple as ditching plastic for reusable water bottles, or attending town meetings to make sure your voice is heard. Just remember that we live in a time where inactivity is no longer an option – we absolutely have to fight to protect not just the areas where we play, but the planet as a whole.
“As athletes we have a rare ability to try the impossible and succeed,” explained KEEN Ambassador, pro skier, and activist Caroline Gleich when asked about her thoughts on the political obstacles that face the conservation movement. “The solutions for climate change won’t be easy, but we love tackling big uphill challenges.”
The Signs of Climate Change
As a graphic designer, I have always been drawn to visual communication, especially signage and typography. When I arrived in D.C., I met up with the Protect Our Winters crew, who were holding a prep party in Patagonia’s retail space to make signs and organize for the march. That night, some great signs were created, however the next day at the march, there was no shortage of creative, funny, serious, and attention-grabbing messages as far as the eye could see. As we waited for the march to begin, Caroline Gleich and Brody Leven, a Protect Our Winters athlete, displayed a sign made at the event the night before and chanted, "This is a sign! So are melting glaciers!"
It is with this pun in mind that I offer a selection of some of the best signage and climate messages I saw throughout the day, and some moments I shared during my weekend attending the march. I hope that you see these signs as I do—as a reminder that we must act on climate, that we have the tools to address the crisis with renewable energy, and that it is more important now than ever before to join together within our communities to create positive change both on a personal level and also in our local, state, and federal governments.