No Food

Yesterday I fasted in solidarity with the Climate Justice fasters and those who will go hungry as a result of climate change.

Maybe it was because I didn’t eat that my day seemed to be a lot worse than it actually was; I don’t know, but I won’t bore you with the details. I will, however, bore you with my discussion of the candle-light vigil.

Since we have been effectively booted from the Bella Center and whole UN process at this point, we have commandeered a hall at a the University that is hosting KlimaForum. It’s almost as good–there is a reasonably-priced food venue, chairs, internet service, and giant screens with the ongoing negotiations projected on them. This was where we held the candle-light vigil last night. It was from 5-7, but I showed up quite late due to some of the drama that happened earlier in the day.

Anna, who has been fasting for 43 days, said a few remarks as did a representative from an AOSIS state. We lit candles and formed the words “Climate Justice” out of them. There were candles everywhere. They filled the dark room with light and warmth. It was beautiful.

It was a time for quiet contemplation, but I didn’t have much time to reflect. Call me a wimp, but the lack of food made me feel perpetually awful yesterday, culminating with a throbbing headache, nausea, fever, and chills by the end of the day. I felt like I was about 100 pounds heavier than I am, and could hardly stand up by 10:00 pm (I’m better now). I habitually don’t eat on some days, but this was by far the worst. My admiration to those who, like Anna, have been fasting since early November. I guess that is sort of a physical type of contemplation, though; people the world over feel perpetually hungry and rotten like this…maybe one day there will be a global crop failure and I too will go through the same. Maybe everyone should be required to fast and then be told that if they don’t change their ways, they’re not likely to have a choice next time.

The solidarity fasters were certainly not alone. Many prominent people chose to support us as well, including Naomi Klein, the many delegates from AOSIS and African nations, and of course my heroes Vandana Shiva, Bill McKibben and President Mohamed Nasheed. To participate in something when your heroes are right there next to you really makes you feel like a part of something larger, and even though it sucked at the time, I am glad we went through with it.

Go us!!

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Yesterday was the Dec 12 Day of Solidarity, in which citizens in over 3000 cities worldwide held candlelight vigils supporting action in Copenhagen.  I, too, took part in the actions and marched 6 km from Parliament Square to the Bella Center.  

The PowerShift Story

I’ve been in plenty of marches and protests before.  They generally seem to be in the winter under adverse conditions.  There was that one time when I protested the Iraq war, and it was so cold that I got hypothermia.  Then there was the demonstration I took part in for PowerShift.  It was about the coldest day in the history of Washington DC, and there had been a terrible blizzard the night before.  I hadn’t packed any warm clothes.  I never seem to protest on nice warm days, and yesterday was no exception.  It was cold, but at least the sky was clear.  This was the first time I have ever participated in an international march, and there were apparently 100 000 of us. 

As we walked, the Danish people turned out on the streets and waved to us from apartment buildings lining the streets.  Several of our number got recorded on BBC news (FUN!!  I never seem to get any press hits), and it culminated in a candelight vigil with candles and actual torches outside the Bella Center.  I was very cold and tired at that point, and all alone, so I headed over to the Bella Center to check my email. 

When I got into the Bella Center, a lot of people were asking me whether I got arrested, or if it had been really crazy.  No, it was not; although, apparently a few bozos among us started throwing cobbles at police.  They were rightly arrested, but so were 900 other peaceful demonstrators.  I cannot independently verify this at this time, but that’s pretty lame of the police it’s true. 

No sooner had I got to the Bella Center, when someone from the Will Steger delegation grabbed me and asked me to telecast in to a group in Lansing, Michigan with some other midwestern delegates to describe the Copenhagen experience.  I’m not sure how they knew I was from the midwest, but ok.  I told them about the AOSIS show of support I went to (in an earlier entry). 

After that, I went to the infamous NGO party.  Now, I am of the mind that when people say “party”, it ought to mean that I put on a frilly pink party dress, Mom serves cake, ice cream, and fruit punch, we play Pin the Tail on the Donkey and ride little ponies.  The sun is shining, the sky is blue, the grass is green.  The NGO party was not that way. 

First, you had to stand outside for hours just to hang up your coat, there was nowhere you could go just to chill out and talk to people, and I had a real issue with a certain Nigerian official.  I don’t understand people sometimes, I really don’t.  Finally, at 2 am, I just got really sick of it and left.  And THAT was the legendary NGO party. 

I don’t know what’s happening next week.  They’ve restricted our delegation by 75% due to the overflow of people trying to attend COP15.  I may or may not be going back to the Bella Center.  Till we get that worked out, I’m heading into the city to get some overpriced food.

It’s been a very demoralizing week, including failed fundraisers, meetings that did not materialize, and medical bills going to collection agencies.   I had this massive meltdown yesterday, which I do not need to discuss.  I can be glad of one thing, however–I’m glad that I did not die today.

There was a rally in Columbus to raise awareness about the Copenhagen talks today.  I was supposed to go up there and collect petition signatures again, march to another location, then address the assembled crowd about Copenhagen. 

I was driving up I-71 on my way to Columbus, just like I have done many times before.   The car is the sort that is supposed to beep at you when a light comes on, which is something my libertarian grandfather (who previously owned the car) had destroyed, illegally. 

As with pain, there is a reason that such a system exists, even if it is annoying.  In the case of my story, such a system might even save lives.  Luckily, and for no particular reason, I happened to glance down at my speedometer and gauges and saw that my brake light was silently on. 

For all the children out there reading this blog, it is very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very bad and dangerous to talk on your cellphone while driving, and your parents must not think that I in any way endorse such actions under any circumstance.  But that is exactly what I did, and you must admit it saved my life.

I called my mom, and said, “The brake light is on, what should I do?”  My first inclination was to ignore the issue, and I figured that’s what she would say too.  Instead, she told me to pull over and figure out why it was on.

I turned off at Field’s Urtel Road, where there conveniently happened to be a Michel Tire mechanics shop.   I went in.  I said, My brake light is on, and I don’t know why.

View Image

This is sort of what my un-trusty car looks like

Several minutes later they called me back to show me my car suspended in mid-air.  Apparently, the entire brake line had inexplicably ruptured on the left side, draining the car of brake fluid; it left a gaping hole in the line through which its life-blood now dripped onto  the floor of the shop.  They said it wasn’t safe for me to drive it home, and I must have had mere seconds before the brakes failed on me entirely.

What if I had been careening down the highway at my usual speed of 85 mph and I had to slam on my brakes?  I would have died, that’s what.  And maybe killed someone else.  Let this be a lesson–don’t disable the beeping devices in your car.  The next driver might not be as lucky as I was.

And that’s why I didn’t go to Columbus this morning.

I did, however, go to Columbus in the evening with my friend and co-activist Jeff.  We attended the Ohio Environmental Council’s annual meeting and Green Gala, which was a lot of fun. 

I didn’t know anybody, so I started talking to the woman next to me who told her husband about me and my trip to Copenhagen.  Because he showed enthusiasm for my mission, I had him introduce me to several other people who might be interested.  Then I asked them to introduce me to others.  If any of the kind people I spoke to at this event are reading now, then I thank them for their interest, and hope they will continue to return to this site and support me!

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you network and not die.

Oh man.  You will not believe where me.  I just got back from meeting with the UK Deputy Consul General from Chicago.  Emily, my supervisor at the Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council, asked if she could forward my email address, and lo and behold! the British consulate got in touch with me–about my participation in the UN climate talks of course!

So, we met at Arnold’s (famous) Bar and Grill.  Our conversation ranged from Copenhagen to Ohio politics to what I want to do with my life, to life in the American and British Foreign Service–and something I hope to do next July.  After drinking beers (except I drank a Shirley Temple because I’m only 6 years old or something…AND I love grenadine) we headed towards Skyline Chili, which the guy at the consulate urged him to do because it’s just so Cincinnati.  And speaking of that, what trip to Cincinnati would be complete without having desert at Graeter’s Ice Cream?

Mr. Brammer was then kind enough to run me home, where I now sit curled around the laptop. He’s heading out to Columbus to meet with some people there, but I really hope we hear back from him and the UK Consulate at World Affairs Council!

I am now 10 pounds heavier, and I am a happy, happy girl.  This is the part about this job that I love.  Not the food–meeting cool people from around the world.  Talking to them.  Listening to them.  Explaining what I do.  Gaining key insights into the way the world works.  Thank you for meeting with me, Mr. Brammer!!

 

And, as an aside, apparently the consulate heard about my name when searching for information on the Copenhagen talks this December–THIS is why I keep a blog!

 
And that’s how I feel about blogs in general.  I kept an extensive blog when I studied in Dubai as a Clinton Scholar, and though this was over two years ago, I still get folks writing in to me for advice!  Who knows, maybe Sheikh Mohammed himself has read it?  Lesson: ALWAYS KEEP A BLOG.