Cross-country march arrives today in the Iowa City area after nearly six months on the road

The Great Climate March
The Great March for Climate Action spans about 3,000 miles. — via The Great March for Climate Action

What started in California on March 1 has finally made its way to Iowa. The Great March for Climate Action, a cross-country demonstration calling for vigilance in the fight against man-made climate change, arrives today in the Iowa City area.

The group, led by Iowa City politician and activist Ed Fallon, will depart from Tiffin this afternoon and arrive in Coralville for a potluck dinner at 5 p.m. at the Coralville Public Library. The library will then host a Climate Literacy Fair featuring exhibitors Soilmates, Eagle Point Solar (which recently constructed the largest solar array in Iowa) and 100 Grannies, among others.

Marchers will arrive in Iowa City on Wednesday, Aug. 20 for an 11:30 a.m. rally in the Ped Mall, followed by a community potluck at Iowa City’s Unitarian Universalist Society at 5:30 p.m.

Wednesday’s featured event, however, is a Citizen’s Hearing set for 7 p.m. at the Iowa City Public Library with UI professor Peter Thorne, member of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Advisory Board, and Dr. Maureen McCue from the Iowa Physicians for Social Responsibility’s Board of Directors. Community members will be given an opportunity to provide testimony regarding the EPA’s proposed plan to cut carbon emissions from existing power plants.

A word of warning for those looking to contribute to the discussion: the full proposal is well over 100,000 words — about the length of a small novel.

As of this week, the marchers have completed about three quarters of their journey. Participants have crossed five states since leaving California earlier this year, cutting across Arizona and New Mexico before turning north through Colorado and Nebraska. They’ve spent the last two and a half weeks marching across Iowa, before arriving this week in Johnson County.

Several participants have been blogging their experiences on the road, chronicling the sorts of environmental challenges faced by both rural and urban communities across the United States. The journal entries, available here, offer an intimate mix of triumph, sorrow and humor.

Marcher Lala Rosella Palazzolo lamented on Aug. 12, “I’m drowning in sadness from hearing story after story of communities that are suffering due to their region’s particular concerns … droughts, floods, fracking industry, polluted and contaminated water systems, continuous mining of uranium on the pueblos and on and on and on.”

The march’s visit to Eastern Iowa will serve as a sort of homecoming for 71-year-old North Liberty resident Miriam Kashia of 100 Grannies, an Iowa City-based environmental group. Kashia, who told Little Village earlier this year that she decided to take part the moment she learned of the march, has walked every mile thus far.

On Thursday, Aug. 21, Kashia and her fellow marchers will gather at College Green Park in Iowa City before leaving for West Branch at 7:30 a.m. The group will cross into Illinois on Aug. 26 and, assuming all goes to plan, arrive in Washington D.C. on Nov. 1. In total, they’ll have walked approximately 3,000 miles over the course of eight months.

A complete schedule of events for Aug. 19-21 is available here.

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