Today is the United Nations’ International Day of Peace. It was declared in 1981 and then first observed in 1982. The day is meant to be a reminder for all nations and peoples “to strengthen the ideals of peace.” Celebrations are being held all over the world on every continent. As we noted last week, this year’s New York event will include a Pagan Youth Delegate as well as a Central Park vigil using Rev. Patrick McCollum’s Peace Violin.
While much of world is observing Peace Day in some form, another event is happening just a few city blocks from the doors of the United Nations. People are gathering in midtown Manhattan to march through the streets in order to send a message to world leaders about climate change. It has been called the People’s Climate March with twitter hashtag #peoplesclimate.
The People’s Climate March is scheduled to attract over 100,000 attendees including celebrities, politicians, faith leaders, and scientists. It is being billed as the largest climate march in history and reportedly includes corresponding events in over 166 countries. The organizers say, “To Change Everything, We need Everyone.”
March leaders have constructed an organized lineup that extends from 59th Street at Columbus Circle to 86th Street, several blocks north of American Museum of Natural History. The lineup is designed to separate the types of people and organizations based on their reasons for walking. Beginning with those people most impacted, the gathering extends backwards through indigenous groups, students, activists, scientists and ends with the rest of the world’s community. In this way, the lineup becomes its very clear message of who is speaking out against the mechanisms that have lead to climate change.
Included in those gathering masses are a number of New York City Pagans. The Pagan Environmental Coalition of New York City (PEC) is currently gathering at 58th street between 8th and 9th Avenues with other interfaith organizations and leaders. To find them, organizers say, “Look for the pentacle signs.”
The PEC is a faith-based action group that “aims to organize, educate, and coordinate action in the Pagan community in New York State and beyond to address environmental issues.” Its members represent many traditions and practices.Through an Indiegogo campaign, the PEC was able to raise enough money to sponsor travel for 5 additional marchers from outside of the New York City area. Courtney Weber, PEC organizer and High Priestess of Novices of the Old Ways, said, “We don’t know if it’s too late to stop climate change or even if we can minimize the effects of it. But we can’t skip the opportunity to try. Human beings are fighters. We’ve survived as a species because we take risks, we fail, we fail again, only to get up and try once more … Let’s do this thing.”
Another Pagan group in attendance will be the Pagan Cluster. The organization is comprised of “a loose gathering of individuals and affinity groups who bring an earth-based spirituality to global justice and peace actions.” Many of its members have roots in the Reclaiming tradition of feminist Witchcraft.
The Pagan Cluster will be gathering at 71st and 72nd Street in the “Solutions” section of the march. To find them, organizers say “Look for the rising sun.”The March is being held ahead of Tuesday’s 2014 U.N. Climate Summit. While the U.N. may be focusing on Peace Day today, it will turn its attention to the subject of climate change in just two days. Although the march goes nowhere near the U.N. building and the council itself is not in session, the impact of today’s events will not go unnoticed. The People’s Climate March has drawn worldwide attention.
Along the route, stages have been setup on which organizers are holding press conferences, interfaith services, and rallies led by a number of grass-roots activists. The march itself begins at 11:30 am EST.
Marchers will head through midtown to the endpoint at 34th Street and 11th Avenue. At 1 p.m. organizers will ask for a pause in the action and moment of silence. After that, the festivities will continue, and music, drumming and song will be encouraged.
Both Pagan organizations are tweeting live from the event. PEC is @PEC_NYC and the Pagan Cluster is @PaganCluster. For a broader live look, follow the Twitter hashtags #peoplesclimate, #peoplesclimatemarch and #climatemarch for photos and reactions.
If you were in attendance, please share your experiences in the comments below. Who else was there?
[Update (4:10pm EST 9/21/14): Earthspirit has contacted The Wild Hunt. The Massachusetts-based organization had 20 members in the march, some of whom are in the photo with PEC. They estimate that there were well over 300,000 people total. Additionally, Andras Corban-Arthen gave a Pagan blessing during the interfaith service]