• Emily Holland

The Climate Rally In Denver

Cover photo by Caroline Gaines - Ksenia K Photography, @Ksenia_k_photography

I heard about the Climate Rally in early January. Caroline Gleich had posted it on Instagram and Facebook, and I had a sudden feeling of guilt. I thought to myself, ‘I’m never doing enough, I need to be involved in more movements like this,’ etc. So, I made a point to put it on my calendar for that day, knowing I would already be in Denver for Outdoor Retailer, so there really was no excuse. In the weeks leading up, I didn’t think much about it, but assumed I would just go no matter what. I made a plan with a friend to meet her there, someone who was much more well-versed in rallies, and climate activism. My type of activism has been much more focused on myself as an individual contributor. I made the move to be plant-based, we compost at home, we recycle, we try not to buy fast-fashion, carpool when we can, don’t buy paper products, don’t use single-use plastic, etc. I try my best to use my buying power to put my money where my heart is. But when it comes to being part of a rally, or more public movement, to be honest, I’ve shied away from it.

The week of Outdoor Retailer came and it was full-on. Tons of meetings, networking, not eating enough and drinking far too much coffee. Thursday night, I got home to Boulder after a 12+ hour day and received some bad news from a family member about the risks of an upcoming surgery. And I totally collapsed. I couldn’t stop crying, and felt like I was in a fog. I told my friend, ‘I don’t think I’m going to make it, I’m totally wrecked from this week.’

Photo by Ian Glass, @ianvaso

I woke up in the morning, feeling a bit refreshed, but still in a haze. And got ready for another long day at OR. I felt a big pang of guilt in my heart, thinking about myself opting out of the rally. So I texted my friend and told her I would still meet up with her, and that I just needed rest to reset.

I went to my meetings, checked off items on my to-do list, and got ready to be part of my first rally. I was a bit nervous, just the normal amount when you go into a situation you’ve never been in before. I met up with my friend and we started to march and chant down the street, and I began to revel in our collective resistance. In each step we took, it was like we were all breathing as one entity. We were here together, people of different races and backgrounds and opinions. We came together, with the organization of badass climate advocates, to tell the world we were ready for change, and that our lands and people depend on it.

We marched to the State Capitol building in Denver, where there was a podium set up. Call me a newbie, but I didn’t realize there would be speakers there. Caroline Gleich and Katie Boue opened up for them, stoking the fire in each of our hearts and urging us to use our voices to help fight climate change, introducing speakers from all walks of life. Youth climate advocates, trail runners, snowboards, Native American advocates and beautiful outdoor poets and lyricists. I cried during every touching speech about what the lands and natural world meant to each of these folks, and to me. And just like that, it was all over.

Photo by Photos by Matthew Swartz, @m.b.swartz

I share this for no other reason than to say, sometimes you just have to force yourself to do the thing. I fall prey to laziness and rationalization all the time, but being in the presence of these people, all pushing towards the same common goal, was the kick in the butt I needed to think about how I can contribute more. And as Brene Brown mentions in her books, it’s important for the human spirit that us humans have moments in our lives that we come together and be part of something larger than ourselves. It is imperative. I felt rejuvenated and open after this, and am so happy I went. Thank you to Katie and Caroline for organizing. This won't be my last.

For resources on what you can do with the momentum created from this Climate Rally and other activism work you're doing, check out Outdoor Advocacy's toolkit here.

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