Yesterday, my fellow Hallowell-born friend and I braved the bitter Maine climate to join the Rally for Unity at the State House in Augusta. Organized by the Alliance for the Common Good, an ad hoc coalition of groups ranging from 350 Maine to the Alliance for Democracy, the rally provided an opportunity for the people of Maine to raise their voices against corporate dominance in government. The event began at noon behind the State House, where a crowd had gathered with banners boasting beautiful yet disturbing scenes and indelible slogans. We managed to join some Colby students who had been given a banner that read “Stop Climate Change,” coincidentally featuring Bowdoin’s mascot, the polar bear. Another sign read “Tar Sands Kill, Pipelines Spill, We Won’t Pay Big Oil’s Bill.” That was a favorite of mine.
My involvement in the divestment campaign through Bowdoin Climate Action has exposed me to the many forms of activism that fuel the environmental movement. My lack of civic engagement thus far in my life, a malady that I’ve found many people my age are afflicted with, was in need of remedying. While this event wasn’t exactly on par with the vicious protests illustrated in popular media, I did feel a certain purpose and satisfaction in contributing my voice to so many organizations’ movements.
With the environmental issues we are facing today—the extraction of tar sands, the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, a year of record-breaking heat in the U.S., and increasingly destructive storms like Hurricane Sandy—indifference must no longer be the prevailing state of affairs. Students from more than two hundred campuses have already begun campaigns urging their administrations to divest their endowments from the fossil fuel industry. These efforts reflect a shift in our generation’s contribution to radical environmental change, and I am looking forward to seeing what additional steps will be taken next semester.
For further reading, read the article published in the Kennebec Journal about the event.