Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Plant for the Planet?

 "What is a coalition?"  The Barracuda asked earlier this year to another passenger in our carpooling cargo van as it traveled to coal train hearings.  We were all wearing our "Power Past Coal" coalition T-shirts, criss-crossing the state to speak out about tons of coal being shipped through our backyard.  I smiled; he was starting to openly discuss with the other faces he saw so regularly.

"It is a bunch of people, companies, or groups that are working together for some thing they all want.  Most of the time the coalition gets a name that tells you what they want or how they want to sound. Usually it is a politics thing."  Responded a kite-boarder who has had an interesting political past since the Vietnam War.  It was a good answer; far better than I could have provided on the fly.  So very often the other people we travel with have amazing areas of interest and can give so much more information than I can.  We have both learned a lot.

And that was it...for months.  I thought nothing of such a question other than noting it away in the "self-directed-project-based-homeschool-is-working-so-you-can-stop-worrying-mom" folder that I keep in my head.

Photo by Trip Jennings


Then last month we spent an epic day traveling to the last of this round of coal train hearings.  In our carpool a National Geographic Explorer (his actual job title) explained fracking using cheese as a metaphor, and talked about how we need to balance personal activity with group organizing to create the large scale change.  The Barracuda listened intently, thoroughly star-struck.

And that was it...for a couple of hours.  I was once again happy at my son's interactions, and quite happy to have met an attractive National Geographic Explore (because that still seems incredibly cool).

But there was a kid at the hearings.  A kid who spoke at the rallies, and worked with environmental groups.  The Barracuda basked in the other kid, spending hours playing impromptu games and discussing their various work.

"I want to start a coalition," came out while sipping celebratory Sprite at the bar for the after party. (The Barracuda learned how to talk his way into bars on the PCT.  He's become quite good at it now. I nod and smile.)  "Um...yeah," was my very intelligent reply. "I want to create a Plant for the Planet chapter in Portland, but we would work through the entire Gorge," The Barracuda continued, "We can do that.  I'll start networking."

He's now moved on to fighting Big Oil.
Photo by Trip Jennings
And so he did.  And it appears to be going quite well.  I am often surprised by the people which show up in my email asking to work with him, and the friend requests I'm getting on Facebook.  He told me today that he needs to order business cards, because "they are easier to hand out than making you write contact information.  I need legitimacy and having to write my mom's contact information doesn't help."

I'm still back at, "Um...okay...yeah."  But that mental "homeschool works" folder is getting bigger.

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