Calmness In The Chaos: One Young Vermonter Recalls September 20th, 2014’s Historic People’s Climate March (INTERVIEW)
Q. Tell us about you.
A. My name is Allise Hewes. I am a New York City native. I grew up 2 blocks from the People’s Climate March at Columbus Circle. I am twenty years old, and majoring in Expressive Arts at Burlington College. Here’s me marching with my Dad.
A. It’s funny. I was apprehensive about going. Many of my radical friends warned against the corporatized nature of the march, and sure, some people marched just to look good. But I was inspired by being present in New York and part of this historical moment with so many other people. I got my entire family to go with me. The march was all about climate awareness and showing people that climate change is real.
and other media have published writing on how some leaders and groups were funded by BP, Goldman-Sachs, and other anti-environmental groups. And others just march because everyone else is doing it. But, as my Dad said on Saturday, this happened in the Sixties, too.
Q. So, what was Saturday’s march like? Can you describe the scene?
A. The march was supposed to start at 59th Street at 11:30 in the morning. But by 9:00 am, things were already getting crazy. The subway was jammed. The streets were filled. My Mom said she had never seen the subway so crowded. The subway conductor opened up his window after we all got out and said, “Make this march count!” It was chaos. And I don’t like chaos. I left New York City because it stresses me out. But on Saturday, there was a calmness, a unity to the chaos – it sound corny, but it was real.
Q. What were some highlights?
A. Many of the groups marching were comprised of minorities – groups of color. Because minorities often have to fight for their voice in mainstream culture, it was powerful and super-inspiring to see leaders of minority groups chanting, speaking, getting people excited, getting people to care about what they are doing. I ended up walking around a lot – I heard bits of different groups doing their thing. And I marched with my Mom, my brother, my old college – Hampshire College. I knew who was carrying which signs, and was able to track different groups this way. There were some kooky people, and lots of people with instruments – bongos, banjos, guitars. Plenty of music, chanting and sharing – it was great.
Q. 1,000 Vermonters attended the march, including you. Did Vermont represent?
A. Absolutely. The Vermonters were totally dispersed throughout the larger crowd. The biggest group of Vermonters I saw was the anti-nuke group, along with Rising Tide Vermont
. I also saw many families marching. It seemed like most Vermonters were carrying signs identifying that they were from Vermont – Vermonters are very proud to be from Vermont. I didn’t see any New Yorkers carrying signs saying they were from New York (laughing).
Q. Do you think the march will make a difference for humans on the planet moving forward?
A. I do and I don’t. I wasn’t able to attend Monday’s “Flood Wall Street” direct action rally
with more than 100 activists getting arrested after shutting down the street for more than six hours, from what I heard. I was disappointed by how little media coverage there was of the march – a few news stories I saw talked about the celebrities were there. But this is about the PEOPLE’s climate march – about people coming together. Everyone.
Q. What’s next?
A. I think this is just the beginning of everything. A lot of people – including me – got really excited about the shared commitment of the march. I was in tears on Saturday – in awe over the sheer numbers of people who cared enough to get to New York City and march. I think what is needed next is more direct action.