The gathering was one of many such events held nationwide to draw attention to effects of climate change and presidential policies.
by Betty Adams, staff writer
Central Maine newspapers news story
AUGUSTA — About 1,100 people in brightly colored shirts, carrying a variety of signs and chanting various slogans, paraded slowly from the State House, around Capitol Park and back to the State House as part of the Maine People’s Climate March.
The event was held to show solidarity with similar efforts nationwide aimed at protesting President Donald Trump’s environmental policies.
In a news release, organizers of the Augusta rally and march on Saturday said they want politicians to protect the state’s natural resources, public health, public safety and future.
Melissa Mann, advocacy coordinator for the Maine Conservation Alliance, which partnered with the Natural Resources Council of Maine and 350 Maine to sponsor the event, outlined major concerns.
“In his first 100 days, President Trump has worked to reverse climate progress, roll back fuel economy standards and propose deep cuts to the (Environmental Protection Agency) budget,” Mann wrote in a news release.
Other concerns were visible in signs held by rallygoers: “Solar Now,” “Protect Mother Earth” “Save Our Lobster,” “Save Our Syrup,” “Impeach traitor Trump Putin’s puppet,” and “(Scott) Pruitt is Repulsive Save the EPA.”
Vaughan Woodruff, owner of Insource Renewables, based in Pittsfield, told the crowd, “It’s great for us to come out here and be reinvigorated,” and he urged participants to “reach out to others” with the message after they left.
Dawn Neptune Adams, of the Penobscot Nation, translated “Water is life” into several Native American tongues.
Sue Pastore of Portland, a volunteer with 350 Maine, staffed a portable booth that offered sunscreen for the participants and held a collection bucket for donations.
“We are introducing our environmental concerns to the public and letting them know what they can do and how they can engage by letting them know about solar legislation and how to divest from banks supporting fossil fuels,” she said.
Martha Jones, of Westbrook, circulated a petition on behalf of the Maine Conservation Alliance calling on Maine’s U.S. senators, Republican Susan Collins and Angus King, an independent, to work to protect Maine’s environment. She said people were eager to sign.
Christina Nelligan, of Augusta, stopped at the rally on her bicycle after an earlier ride from Augusta to Gardiner and back along the Kennebec River Rail Trail. Nelligan said she believes that the health of the planet reflects the health of the people.
“Health is our greatest wealth, and I believe we have a responsibility to future generations.”
Bill and Libby Schecher, of Hallowell, engineers turned acupuncturists, sat on the green lawn just outside the State House to listen to the series of speakers.
Libby Schecher held a sign with a quote from the Grateful Dead’s 1973 album “Wake of the Flood”: “Wake up to find out that your eyes are the eyes of the world.”
“Climate change is real,” she said.
“Earth science and NASA are being undermined and our ability to verify facts is being undermined,” Bill Schecher said. “If you don’t collect data, how do your really know what’s going on?”
Stepping off from the area between the Burton M. Cross State Office Building and the State House, Lucy Chatfield, a student in the Maine Coast Semester at Chewonki chanted, “Tell me what democracy looks like.” And fellow marchers responded, “This is what democracy looks like.”
Just as marchers approached State Street a second time, they stopped en masse and sat down, pounding their chests 100 times to represent the first 100 days of the Trump administration.
Donna Little, of Falmouth, Judy Love, of Dover-Foxcroft, and Carol Shoreborn, of Dexter, who classified themselves as teachers and eco-feminists, sat together and watched on the granite steps leading to the north entrance of the State House.
“I turned 75 and took my retirement and put solar panels on my home,” Shoreborn said. “I don’t want to see all my resources lost because a governor doesn’t get it and a president doesn’t get it.”