John Jorgenson didn't know what else to do when he found himself urged by administration not to speak about climate change in his high school science classes.
"I couldn't teach a lie," he says.
So, the Tuscon, Ariz., resident sold all his belongings and joined a 3,000-mile march from Los Angeles to Washington, DC, to implore lawmakers to address the human causes of climate change.
About 40 participants in the Great March for Climate Action left Santa Fe this morning, heading for Taos after a May 17 rally and "stay day" at the CCA's Sustainable Sundays Film Festival.
With a cry of "Sol, not coal," the marchers ask for businesses and individuals to make power with renewable energy instead of fossil fuel.They hope their voices (and the people they mobilize while walking across the country) could sway corporations to take responsibility for the health of the environment and the people in it.
"The billionaires of the world who control all of this, they can have huge, huge effect, positive effect, if they would step up to the plate," says Robert Cook, a 71-year-old Presbyterian pastor from Iowa. "They will be forgiven for having created a system that just looks for wealth, power and control."
"If you have absolute love and you are aware of the impact of climate change and what that's going to do," he says, you should take action so future generations understand that "all of humanity is important."
The marchers also call for society to depart from "senseless consumerism," in the words of Jorgenson, and reconnect with nature and their communities.
Each marcher has his or her personal way of activism.
Debaura James, the only long-term marcher from New Mexico, draws from her experience founding a Silver City charter school centered around sustainability to present at schools along the route.
Sean Glenn, of Connecticut, chose not to speak for the entire eight-month journey. She wanted to "stand for the unheard victims" of climate change, without "screaming across the country," she writes in a text.
For Steve Martin, "it's just in the footsteps." A self-labeled "spiritual walker" who walked the 550-mile Camino de Santiago in Europe last year, he see walking as a form of healing and progress, important, especially to him.
"I'm the biggest sinner of them all. I've lived a life that has brought us to this problem," he says. "We're all guilty."
He carries a blue stone in a pouch of his orange traffic vest, gifted to him by a Navajo in Phoenix, Ariz. The man told Martin he had put a blessing on it and when Martin faced weak moments, he was to hold the stone close. If he failed, he was to bury the stone in the ground. If he succeeded, he was to return, and the man would finish his blessing.
For now, Martin's convictions are strong.
"I have no political views, capitalist or socialist, Democrat or Republican. I just believe I have to be a human being and just care about others," Martin says. "I am not that fatalistic that I believe we can sit back and do nothing."