“Tell me about your T-shirts,” Elizabeth Warren said, filling the room with her effervescent smile. Her eyes widened as Regional Field Manager Trisha Sheehan and I told her about the 500 parents and kids who were with us at the Play-In that took place that morning just a block from her office building. Her bright blue eyes widened even more when I mentioned that Moms Clean Air Force has more than 500,000 members.
“You know I’m with you,” she said, putting her arm around me as we posed for a picture.
I left Warren’s office clutching my husband’s hand as if to prevent myself from floating away. After a day of activism with a community — my community — of parents, kids, teens, and other concerned citizens, and despite some seriously weary feet, I was walking on air.
Indeed, as much as I enjoyed meeting both of my senators from Massachusetts — I ran into Senator Ed Markey on the sidewalk outside his office, and literally gave him my “support America’s Clean Power Plan” elevator pitch as we rode upstairs to meet with his aide — it was the turnout of young kids and teens at the Play-In that impressed me the most.
As we went around the room introducing ourselves at a meeting the night before, I learned that our kids both understand, and have plenty to say about the impacts of climate change. How could they not? They deal with those impacts on a daily basis.
As one elementary school student noted about her classmate who uses an inhaler, “He doesn’t like me, but I still feel sorry for him.” Well, yes, as Moms Clean Air Force Director, Dominique Browning quipped, we feel sorry for a lot of people who don’t like us!
When I joined Moms Clean Air Force in 2011, I was thrilled to be part of a virtual community of like-minded activists. But the opportunity meet face-to-face with some of these folks was even more thrilling.
For one thing, as Reverend Gerald L. Durley, a lifelong civil rights activist, noted both at the meeting and then again in his speech at the Play-In, it was an opportunity to see firsthand the face of climate change.
Many of those kids and teens were so articulate and so willing to participate in the Play-In because they were living or going to school alongside power plants or fracking sites.
As Angela Alfaro, a mom and native of Denver, Colorado noted in her speech,
“I’m grateful to have my family here and for this lesson on the importance of self-advocacy for my children. Their voices are little, but I hope they are persuasive because we are here for them and our planet.”
Some spoke for those who can no longer speak for themselves. Reverend Dr. Yvette Griffin from Michigan, gave an emotional speech about her granddaughter who died from asthma at the age of 16. The girl’s teenaged sister joined her grandmother at the Play-In. Both were determined to prevent this tragedy from happening to other families.
So yes, I saw the faces and heard the voices of climate change earlier this month. And I hope that as the wearers of our bright red Moms Clean Air Force T-shirts worked their way around the Capitol and through Senate offices, that the climate change deniers saw and heard them too.