Rachel Mark with the Police Officer Herron after she was arrested and placed in handcuffs in front of the White House. Credit Ben Powless, tarsandsaction.

Guest post by  Rachel Mark
Unitarian Church of Harrisburg

Thoughts about Tar Sands Action

I am an environmentalist–the chair of Green Sanctuary, chair of Harrisburg Interfaith Coalition for the Environment, a board member of PA-Interfaith Power and Light, and a member of Gas Truth of Central PA.   Several years ago, Naomi Klein’s TED talk first brought to my attention the Canada Tar Sands.  I was appalled and subsequently watched a number of tar sands videos, some of which I showed at a meeting of Green Sanctuary.

In June 2011 at UUA General Assembly,  I heard that a Tar Sands rally would be held in Washington DC in late August.  At that time, I decided I would participate.   When it later became apparent to me that it was civil disobedience, with a possible arrest, I was already committed, no matter what happened.  Two of my fellow UU’s and environmentalist friends,  Susan Norris and Barbara VanHorn, decided to go, and we signed up.  It was an easy decision for the three of us.

On our night at St. Stephen’s and the following day of protest, we met and spent time with a member of Salt Lake Unitarian Church who knows Tim DeChristopher.  I had been following Tim’s story for quite some time, and UCH had held a solidarity vigil in July at the Federal Building in Harrisburg.  I was ecstatic to meet a fellow Unitarian who knew him!   I also felt energized and delighted to meet other environmentalists from around the country, it made me feel hopeful and happy.  We appreciated hearing Bill McKibben and all the volunteers whose upbeat enthusiasm was infectious.   On the day of the protest, the three of us from Harrisburg had a deep sense of sharing in a larger movement with others who feel as strongly as we do that business-as-usual and the expansion of the Keystone pipeline is the absolute wrong direction this country should be taking.

I am happy that Green Sanctuary and UUMFE is supporting strong action, and hope the UUA will make climate change issues and environmental devastation, such as the tar sands, a strong priority in the years ahead.

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