Big Vermont Rally to 'Put People and the Planet First'
Despite a hard morning rain and daylong threatening cloud cover, the Vermont Sierra Club and partner groups came together on May Day for the largest weekday rally ever in Montpelier, the state capital.
[Little known factoids: Montpelier is by far the smallest state capital in the nation, with about 7,700 residents, and is the only state capital with no McDonalds restaurant.]
An estimated 2,000 Vermonters marched through the streets of Montpelier to the statehouse in support of the right to healthcare, the right to form unions, the rights of migrant farm workers, and the Vermont Sierra Club's Our Forests Our Future campaign.
The Vermont Workers' Center, a key Sierra Club ally and a strong supporter of Our Forests Our Future, was the lead organizer of the May Day rally. More than 30 Vermont organizations mobilized for the event, billed as Put People and the Planet First.
"When environmentalists, labor, Native Americans, and others from the 99% are united in supporting our various struggles, only then do we begin to build the power necessary to Put People and the Planet First," says David Van Deusen, at left, Vermont-based organizer for the Sierra Club's Resilient Habitats campaign. "May Day in Vermont was an important step in building such a popular front. We are winning."
The Vermont Sierra Club marched together with members of the Nulhegan Abenaki Tribe, which has joined forces with the Club in advocating for the creation of new tribal and town forests that will link up and create a mosaic of wildlife corridors crossing the state—from the northern Connecticut River to the Nulhegan Basin and from the northern Green Mountains to the New York State border.
Vermont Sierra Club organizer and Abenaki tribal leader Luke Willard addressed the rally, outlining the goals of the Our Forests Our Future campaign and detailing the ongoing challenges facing the Abenaki people. That's Willard below, firing up the crowd.
"All told, today was a very powerful demonstration of cross-movement solidarity," says Van Deusen. "We talked with many, many people at the rally and gathered about 175 petition signatures supporting Our Forests Our Future."
Our Forests Our Future is the Vermont component of a larger Sierra Club goal to link the forests of Vermont's Green Mountains with New Hampshire's White Mountains and Maine's North Woods to the east, and New York State's Adirondack Mountains to the west—a regional effort of long-term forest preservation promoted by Resilient Habitats.
If you are a Vermonter, sign the Vermont Sierra Club's petition in support of Abenaki Tribal Forests.
Then download an Abenaki Tribal Forest petition and have your friends, co-workers, families, and neighbors sign.