Benjamin Bushwick and Annamarie Pihs relax at the Allegheny Unitarian Universalist Church on the North Side after walking Tuesday in the Great March for Clilmate Action.
Ed Fallon, founding organizer of the Great March for Climate Action, speaks to supporters Tuesday at Allegheny Unitarian Universalist Church on the North Side.
By Diana Nelson Jones / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
On Tuesday, day 227 of the Great March for Climate Action, 35 people arrived in Pittsburgh — retirees, people on sabbatical, people who left jobs, students postponing a year of college and families with children who have walked from various points from Los Angeles en route to Washington, D.C.
About 30 local activists joined them. As the group streamed down Brighton Road in the Central North Side, chanting and carrying signs, drivers honked and waved.
At the Allegheny Unitarian Universalist Church on North Avenue, local organizers called for public and private divestiture from corporations that profit from fossil fuels extraction.
The walk began March 1. Ed Fallon, a former Iowa state legislator who ran for governor in 2006, initiated it, organized participation on social media and raised more than $100,000.
“We’ve had people from 37 states,” he said. “It’s important to get people’s attention. Our leaders need to do the big things. If enough people demand it, things will change.”
The group walked Tuesday from Emsworth, where they stayed Monday night at the Holy Family Institute. They stopped at the Shenango Coke Works along the Ohio River on the way down Route 65 to the North Side.
No-e Gomez, a filmmaker from New Mexico who is working on a documentary of the walk for HBO, said most responses have been supportive, “but the matter is getting people to act.”
Vehicles running on vegetable oil have hauled luggage, provisions and medical supplies. The walkers have connected with local groups that organized potluck dinners, arranged lodging and site visits.
The group walked many nights to avoid the desert heat. They have camped, slept in church basements and been welcomed into people’s homes while averaging 20 miles a day.
“We’ve had to create a community,” said Miriam Kashia, a retired psychotherapist from Iowa City, one of four who started in Los Angeles and remain with the group. “We’re the One Earth Village, and I’m its mayor. I’m also the blister queen.
“I’m on my third pair of walking shoes, and my feet have toughened. We’ve had a lot of issues, but we’ve dealt with them almost exclusively with respect. Right now we are running on financial fumes, but here we are in Pittsburgh.
“It’s been grueling on every level, but the issue is bigger than any of that.”
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