A cross-country march pressing for action on the climate crisis will arrive Sunday in Davenport, with Quad-City environmentalists joining the 30-plus marchers for a 2 p.m. rally at LeClaire Park.
The Great March for Climate Action began March 1 in Los Angeles and is expected to reach Washington, D.C., by Nov. 1. It's a 3,000-mile journey that will be one of the largest coast-to-coast marches in American history, national organizer Ed Fallon said.
Fallon, 56, is a former 14-year Iowa legislator from Des Moines who ran in the Democratic primary for governor during 2006.
He got the idea for the march a couple of years ago when he had a chance to meet with Bill McKibben, a leading environmentalist, the author of "The End of Nature" and the founder of 350.org, an international Web-based climate organization pushing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
"He sure perked up my realization of how critical this climate crisis is," Fallon said by cellphone as he walked Friday on a secondary road in Muscatine County. "We need to get people to realize just how precarious things are."
The keynote speaker at the rally will be the Rev. Michael Dowd, a best-selling author and eco-theologian who has been walking with the group on and off since they started in California.
The march hasn't received much publicity nationwide, Fallon said. He believes that is because of an unconscious media prejudice that if an idea begins in Iowa — as opposed to either coast — it must not be very important.
Instead, social media has spread the word, and about 350 people from 37 states are signed up so far to do some marching, dropping in and out as it works with their schedules, Fallon said.
Among those who will join the group Tuesday is Alice Traylor, 64, a retired Silvis librarian.
"I think it is important," she said of the march. "I have a science background, and I do believe the scientists. The polar bears are going to lose their habitat. The North and South poles are changing. I remember the '65 (Mississippi River) flood. Now, almost every other year we have a flood like that. What accounts for that?
"We each do what we can for our Earth to make it a better place."
The marchers will stay overnight Sunday and Monday in private homes, including those belonging to members of Progressive Action for the Common Good, Eagle View Group/Sierra Club, Sisters of Humility of Mary, a labor group and members of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Quad-Cities.
Monday will be a day of visiting schools and talking to city officials and interested groups.
Marchers will resume their travels Tuesday, crossing the Government Bridge and stopping for a welcome-to-Illinois ceremony at the Quad-City Botanical Center, 2525 4th Ave., Rock Island. The event will be at 8 a.m. in the Children's Garden and include speakers and music.
The group will proceed to Hampton via the riverfront recreational trail. They will camp for the night there in Illiniwek Park.
The group tries to walk about 15 miles per day and is accompanied by trucks carrying gear, food and water, chemical toilets, solar cookers, solar collectors to recharge their refrigerator and a small mobile wind turbine. Marchers camp out overnight if homes are not available.
To organize the march, Fallon formed a nonprofit organization, raised about $100,000 from 12 supporters, created a website and hired five full-time employees, he said.
Fallon, 56, graduated from Drake University with a degree in religion and has long championed environmental causes. In 1998, he helped found 1,000 Friends of Iowa, a group that advocates for land use reform and against urban sprawl.
The march's goal is to raise awareness about the climate crisis and to inspire action.