Peninsula-wide climate rally, march set in Port Angeles

PORT ANGELES — A People’s Climate March involving participants from Clallam and Jefferson counties is expected to draw at least 200 people to Port Angeles on Saturday.

The march will begin with a welcome in the Klallam language at 3 p.m. at City Pier.

From there, members of area tribes will lead a march of less than a mile, traveling west from City Pier on Railroad Avenue and the esplanade past the new beaches at Oak Street, then up the sidewalk to Cherry Street to First Street, then east on First to Lincoln Street and back north on Lincoln to City Pier by about 4 p.m. There, several speakers are lined up.

Organizers worked with climate action activists in Jefferson County, said Ed Chadd of Olympic Climate Action in Port Angeles, which has sponsored the march with the Sierra Club North Olympic Group and other groups.

“They were very enthusiastic about having one big rally for the whole North Olympic Peninsula,” Chadd said.

The march is in concert with People’s Climate Marches planned in Washington, D.C., and in other cities and nations Saturday.

March committee chair Melanie Greer said that the Olympic Peninsula can “build a coalition of communities and cultures dedicated to a just transition toward community resilience.”

“Climate action here can mean moving toward stable jobs with good wages, building and retrofitting infrastructure to generate our own energy, increasing efficiency and preparing for climate changes to come,” she said.

“Together we can achieve a better future for us all. This is why we are concentrating our efforts into a joint march for the whole North Olympic Peninsula.”

“This is our Peninsula, our future and our climate.”

Diana Somerville, local author and activist, will serve as master of ceremonies.

The first speaker will be state Rep. Mike Chapman if he is not in session at the state Legislature. Chapman planned to speak on “My Road to Climate Activism.”

Next is Vanessa Castle, a Lower Elwha Klallam tribal member, speaking on “Lessons from Standing Rock.”

Forks City Councilman Jon Preston is to talk about “Why We Can’t Wait.” Jefferson County Commissioner Kate Dean will address “Climate Impacts on the Olympic Peninsula.” Chad Bowechop, manager of the Makah Tribal Council Office of Marine Affairs, will speak on “Threats of Increased Oil Shipping in Our Waters.”

Port Townsend Mayor Deborah Stinson will discuss “Moving Forward at the Local Level.” Clallam County Commissioner Mark Ozias will speak on “Greening the Local Economy.”

The Interfaith Peace Choir will offer the closing song.

The march is to help end a national addiction to petroleum, according to Chadd.

“We face many grave social problems, but human-caused climate disruption threatens to so unravel the underpinnings of human society as to bring down our civilized institutions,” he said.

“These threats have been well-described by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the Pentagon and several former secretaries of state and defense, and most recently Donald Trump’s own defense secretary.

“When you face a great risk and can’t afford to be wrong, you take precaution; otherwise, you’re playing Russian roulette with your children’s lives.”

Chadd said that changes already are happening and that delay on shifting to clean energy can only make matters worse.

“Climate impacts have a lag time of decades. If we wait until the impacts get unbearable, we will have already ‘baked into the cake’ far worse impacts to come,” he said.

Fearing that participants could overwhelm the downtown parking area, Chadd suggested using the Clallam County Courthouse at 223 E. Fourth St.

The march committee thanked the city of Port Angeles and the Port Angeles Downtown Association for cooperation in helping guide planning for the march, Chadd said, adding that “there will be a minimum of disruption to downtown business, and marchers will be encouraged to spend time downtown after the march concludes at about 5 p.m.”

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