Pedaling for change on 10/10/10
Can 35 bicyclers, some chalk and one short guy change the world?
Tuesday, October 19, 2010 - 17:47
BIKING FOR A CAUSE: Over 170 riders pose on the Minneapolis Stone Arch Bridge to bring awareness to 350. (Photo: Jayme Dittmar)
There were several things peculiar about Sunday 10-10-10:
1) It was 81 degrees F.
2) It was 9 a.m. and I was on my bicycle.
3) I was riding past people coming home from a party, while I was on my way to one.
Oct. 10, 2010 was 350.org's day of the Global Work Party. University of Minnesota students and the Minneapolis community joined 188 countries in action to draw awareness to global climate change.
Leading scientists, climate experts and many governments say the safe upper limit of carbon in our atmosphere is 350 parts per million (ppm). Currently we are at 389 ppm.
The plan was to pedal the change we wanted to see in the world — creating awareness of 350 though a ten-mile bike tour around the Twin Cities.
I consider myself an environmentalist but I have never rallied for recycling or anything. I wanted to contribute to the end of an eroding planet, but also be an efficient communicator about global climate change. Would biking through campus be effective, or a waste of a Sunday afternoon?
10:42 a.m. I am sitting outside the St. Paul Community Center waiting nervously for my pick-up.
10:45 a.m. Approximately 35 riders come pedaling toward me. The group includes chic women with Nike sports tops, students, 10-year-olds and singing men with long beards wearing tie-dye shirts. There is not a defining characteristic in this crowd.
A short but fit guy with a bright orange shirt that asks, "How old will you be in 2050?" and jumps off a bike. This must be Reed Aronow, leader of the event. "You're joining us, right?" he says. Two others dump out chalk behind him and before I can answer he shouts over the crowd of oncoming bikers, "This is chalk flash art. You have 15 minutes to design the number 350 in as many creative ways as possible."
11:00 a.m. Lift off.
11:08 a.m. We stop at the Hamden Park Co-op sampling the local sustainable cuisine to power us through the rest of our ride. "I wish I was out there with you. But I have to work," an employee said after helping me find trail mix. "Keep on trekking."
11:20 a.m. We are riding through the campus connector. On the way I meet Dale Howey, owner of Cool Planet Goods, environmental landlord and proud owner of all recycled furniture. He is biking with a planet earth flag. His motto: "It's amazing what you can do when you don't know what you can do."
11:23 a.m. A kid carrying a basketball stops walking and stares as we cruise by him. Reed slows down and says, "Happy 10-10-10, the largest international day of climate action."
12:25 p.m. We stop at Augsberg for a "Climate Change Action Dance." Frolicking around in circles swaying our hips chanting, "Take action. Take action and get some satisfaction," is enough to make the passersby notice. Some even join the movement. We are now a group of 65.
1:12 p.m. "But you'd look sweet upon the seat of a bicycle built for two," echoes around the MacPhail Center for Music as we finish singing "Daisy Bell."
2:00 p.m. Over 150 bikers arrive on the Stone Arch Bridge and bike past the last standing coal plant in Minneapolis. We break through the tape to a cheering crowd of politicians, activists, students and others that think 389 ppm is a number that is too high.
In an afternoon that was too warm for a Minnesota October, we danced, sang songs and convinced some civilians to come on a bike ride. In a world of overconsumption, exploding population, deforestation and other environmental extremes that contribute to global warming, did we really do anything?
We did. We acted. Instead of sitting around waiting for the consequences of global climate change, we created movement, and inspiration. We pedaled and demonstrated a simple action that can help 389 ppm become 350 ppm.
If the energy we created on 10-10-10 in Minneapolis is channeled into action, a goal of 350 ppm is underachieving.
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