By Jim Dulzo, Michigan Land Use Institute
When she was a high school sophomore, Jane Lively rode the bus from Traverse City to Washington DC with 55 other concerned citizens to join the February 2013 Forward on Climate rally.
It was a grueling trip, capped by several hours of standing in a bone-chilling wind near the Washington Monument, listening to Bill McKibben and other climate change warriors urge the crowd to return to their communities and spread the word about the dangers of global warming and the beyond-urgent need for the world’s leaders—particularly those around the corner from where the 40,000 hardy souls stood, in the U.S. Capitol—to wake up and act quickly and boldly.
Now, 20 months later, Lively, a senior at Glen Lake High School and the daughter of Jim Lively, MLUI’s program director, is even more involved in the battle against climate change.
She recruited and organized another 55 people, this time for a bus ride to last Sunday’s enormous Peoples’ Climate March, in New York City. With much more accommodating weather and 10 times as many people, the march was a huge success—even as so many Washington politicians and too many of the nation’s traditional media outlets resolutely ignored it.
We reached Lively in Vermont, McKibben’s home state, where she was checking out a college she’s considering, to ask her about the DC trip.
Michigan Land Use Institute: Why did you decide to go to another climate rally, and how did you get so involved in it?
Jane Lively: Organizing the bus ride was for my senior project. It fit the guidelines for projects because it had to benefit at least one person and do something good for the community.
And why this march? When I heard about it, I knew I had to go. I asked my dad, who organized the first bus to the Washington rally, who would be organizing the bus trip this time around. He wasn’t going to be able to do it again, but I knew I could do it. I wanted to go and I wanted to give other people a chance to go, so Michigan would be well represented at the march.
MLUI: What did you hope to accomplish by going to the rally?
Lively: Well, it sounded like it was going to be a very big deal. And it turned out to be that—there were more than 400,000 people marching. I wanted to raise awareness and let people know how many folks are truly devoted to making a change when it comes to climate change. I wanted to make a statement about climate change and let the world know that there are many people who are working on this and who care about it deeply.
MLUI: There were probably a lot of great things to see there. What was one of the great moments that you recall?
Lively: I’m not sure there was one great moment. It was more that there was this whole thing about just being there—with streets filled with people chanting and playing music and showing off their amazing artwork in the streets. It felt powerful to me, and I felt really motivated and focused on what we want to do. It was so peaceful, really calm. And we all did it together; we didn’t leave anyone behind. It was really a very special thing.
MLUI: Now that it is over, are you still glad you went?
Lively: Yes, I am glad I went; I’m definitely glad I went. It definitely gave the message that it was intended to give. It got a lot of media coverage and it’s been really well received. People see it and are really impressed; the people who actually went are now motivated to keep working on this issue. So it was really a powerful thing.
I’m going to tell my classmates they missed out on a great, cool opportunity to be part of a really, really amazing, moving thing, although many of them don’t care about it as deeply as I do.
There are not things like this happening every day—seeing 400,000 people all interested in something like this. I will tell them I was really lucky to be there.
Jim Dulzo is the Michigan Land Use Institute’s senior energy policy specialist. Reach him at email@example.com.