By various estimates (i.e., organizer Jessica Aldridge of the Burbank Green Alliance* and other participants), about a thousand people turned out for Sunday's march and rally. During the rally portion, a show of hands revealed that a large majority got there via public transportation, bicycling/walking, or hybrid/electric vehicles.
There was no shortage of eye-catching and creative signs (there were costumes, too), and unlike a lot of marches, which tend to pass closed businesses on cordoned-off streets, there was some interaction with the general public. The march began on crowded Olvera Street, and at an overpass above the Hollywood Freeway, some held their signs toward traffic, and motorists honked. Several major news stations came, including KTLA, ABC Eyewitness News, and reportedly even Fox.
As the march went by City Hall's South Lawn, this author was upset and angered to see the former site of Occupy LA, though, it was nice to see that native plants had been added in some areas. (However, there is still quite a bit of non-native grass at the South Lawn.)
At the rally, Grandmother Gloria Arellanes of the Tongva people gave an opening prayer; Ed Begley, Jr. hosted; and there were a lot of good speakers and entertainers.
Of the Indigenous community, Begley said: “They are our leaders, who for many years have lived off the interest of the land, not liquidating their principle, cutting down all the trees, living unsustainably. They are our leaders and our teachers in this.”
Arellanes explained that the Tongva inhabited the Los Angeles basin, parts of Orange County, some of the Channel Islands, and parts of Riverside. She could feel the presence of many ancestors that day via a wind that accompanied the march. “All of this concrete and all of this grass means nothing to me,” she stated. “It is still my land, and my people were here. This is the village of Yangna.”
She also discussed the Red Road, which means that “we see beyond the color, we see beyond our races, our religions as one people, as one human race.” (Later, Chief Phil Lane, Jr. also spoke of “one human race.”)
“Quite a long time ago on Mother Earth there were no lines, there were no borders, they didn't exist,” Figueroa continued. “We all lived together peacefully, and we protected the earth, we protected the sacred water, and sacred air, and sacred fire. We kept our fires going, and the Native people have kept the sacred drum, the heart of Mother Hearth, happening. So we are honored to stand by all that respect Mother Earth.”
She added: “We're here not just for Mother Earth, we're here for our children and our next generations. What we're doing today will hopefully make it possible for our wingeds, our finned ones, our standing people—all of our relations—to be alive. So with that I want to send my love and extend my hand to each and every one of you. Thank you for being here. Aho.”
Begley pointed out that since the early '70s, L.A.'s population has increased by “millions more people--and we've cut the smog down to less than half using good technology that's worked.” He also credited organizations such as the Coalition for Clean Air, the Green Party, the American Lung Association, and others. “Four times the cars, millions more people, and we have a fraction of the smog,” he added. “So we can do this. We can do something about climate change, but we have to act now.”
Other speakers included Dr. Josh Fisher, a climate scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory; Torgen Johnson, a Harvard-educated urban planner in San Diego, who has been fighting the reopening of the San Onofre nuclear plant; and Jordan Howard, a young but dynamic activist (who's about to turn 21).
Presenting a different perspective was the Billionaires, performance artists, who've been credited for continuing the Yippie tactic of engaging-educating people through entertainment. The Billionaires treated us to a performance of “This Land is Our Land.”
“You planet people are so cute,” one of them later remarked.
Celebrities in attendance included Orlando Bloom.
Various speakers emphasized the significant of each person's individual actions/lifestyle choices (in addition to large movements such as this one). Begley likened such lifestyle choices to putting a handkerchief on a gaping wound, noting that the wound must be dressed before the victim is hospitalized.
Jessica Aldridge asked us to remember that a pebble can make waves.
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