Over the last three months, Miriam Kashia, 71, has walked through drought-parched desert, sandstorms, a blizzard, a hailstorm and a deluge of rain.
She and other members of the Great March for Climate Action are getting a firsthand taste of the weather systems that motivated them to take on a nearly 3,000-mile trek.
Organized by former Iowa legislator Ed Fallon, the marchers left the Los Angeles area March 1 and hope to reach Washington, D.C., by Nov. 1. They plan to stop in Iowa City in August. Their goal is to walk every step of the way.
Kashia of North Liberty said she joined the march because she wants to raise awareness and push people into action to stop climate change.
“I’m passionate about the fact that people are not paying attention and our legislature is deadlocked,” she said. “We have the means, we just don’t have the personal and political will.”
The walk so far has been physically challenging — beyond the blisters, Kashia said she’s lost 20 pounds — but she said she hasn’t had trouble staying motivated.
“I just get up in the morning, and I know I’m going to walk to the next camp,” she said. “We have had people walking on crutches. They’re really, really determined to do this.”
She said she’s always been a passionate person. After retiring from a career in psychotherapy, she spent two years in Namibia with the U.S. Peace Corps.
“We want to motivate and change people’s minds and to get people to do what must be done,” she said.
A gear truck and a kitchen truck are part of the journey, so walkers don’t have to carry their own gear. They are camping along the way and have slept in such places as a mosque parking lot, a casino banquet room, the grounds of a hot-air balloon museum and a detention center in the Zuni Pueblo land of New Mexico.
The 30 to 40 person team, which also includes several people from the Des Moines area, grows and shrinks — some people come along to walk for day or two as marchers pass through their towns. A small core group, including Kashia, have committed to walking every step, while some of their compatriots take care of communications, planning and giving presentations to schools and community groups.
The marchers also are hosting rallies in towns along the route and are collecting 3-inch by 5-inch cards with messages from people across the country to deliver to lawmakers in Washington, D.C.
“We’re doing a march because, historically, marches have been very successful in creating social change,” she said. “Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., the suffragettes. In 1986 there was a great peace march for anti-nuclear weapons treaty — that legislation happened.”
Find out more
Follow along with the Great March for Climate Action on its website and Miriam Kashia’s blog: