We’re on the road! It was hard saying goodbye to Alejandra and some of my new friends in Southern Illinois. I still remember mi prima waving goodbye as our little caravan pulled out of the parking lot across the tracks from Gaia House. I’m sure I’ll be back to visit someday, and maybe she’ll visit me in Miami someday if our mission goes well. In the meantime, it helps that some of my new friends are coming with me — and our destination is Miami!
This is going to be a long trip. Instead of pushing for maximum speed, we decided to make a few stops along the way. This will give us time to recharge the bus and van at our leisure. It will also give us an opportunity to meet with other people working on global warming or Miami or anything similar. Depending on how long each stop takes, it should take us between seven and nine days.
Our first stop is Memphis. After an uneventful trip of about three or four hours, we made it here in time for lunch. I had never been to Memphis before, but it seems like a nice city. After living in Carbondale for a few months, it’s good to be back in a big city again. It’s not as big as Miami, of course, but there’s a lot going on here. There’s music, food, culture, so much more than you can fit into even a progressive small town. I’ve only been here for a couple of hours, so I don’t really have a sense of the city yet. We’ll be here until the morning though, so I may have a little time to explore later.
It’s hard to compare heat at a certain point because almost everything south of Canada right now is hotter than any human being should have to put up with. But Memphis does seem hotter than Carbondale. It wasn’t bad in the van, but now that we’re out in the heat, I can really feel it. The heat itself is actually one of the major problems that people in Memphis have to deal with because of global warming. What was already a hot city now gets even worse during the summer, leading to all sorts of heat-related illnesses. Not to mention the way that it affects the smog, the allergens, and so on. Thank God I’ve got no allergies and a good set of lungs. For now, anyway.
Ermete, Jess, and I were in the van with Tenalach, the permaculturist, and Harold, one of the team members who I didn’t know very well before the trip. He’s a big middle-aged black man who speaks softly but firmly, loves to farm and garden, tinkers with mechanics and electronics, and knows more about survivalism and self-defense than I ever will. Even just with three or four hours on the road, the five of us have already had some interesting conversations. We come from different backgrounds, and we have different beliefs, but we’re all really passionate about taking action on global warming. It’s interesting to hear the different ways we each explain it, the points we agree and disagree about, and so on.
Our stop here in Memphis is simple. We’re dropping off a few old laptop computers and some gardening supplies that they need for a new community garden. Memphis has a whole network of community gardens called Grow Memphis that has really helped them build their food independence over the past few decades. This is part of the Resilience program that we were talking about at GCOM. And the higher food prices get, the more people realize the value of having community gardens. So we’re giving them some supplies and helping them for a few hours with some free design consultation from Tenalach and basic manual labor from the rest of us. In return, they’re giving us some food and medical supplies to take with us to New Orleans. We have a small amount of room to spare on the bus, so we decided that we may as well work out little trades like this to make the most of our trip. It also helps us to ensure that we have a friendly place to park our vehicles and maybe even sleep for the night if they have room. There are thirteen of us total, though, so most places probably won’t have room for most of us.
That’s all I have time to write about today. We have some more volunteering to do at the garden, and then I’m going to meet up with another Miami refugee who has decided to stay in Memphis and work on global warming with a few local groups. After that, maybe I’ll have time to check out the music and the bars. Who knows, I may even sleep at some point. I’ll post as often as I can on the road, but as you can see, I may be busy. In the meantime, wish us luck in our travels. The farther south we go, the more conservative it gets, so we could use all the luck and prayers we can get.