Trip to DC – Week Two

Wow, just finished week two.  I can already feel that the program will be over before I know it.  This week we really dove into trainings… an action-packed week for sure.

But First, The Rest of the Weekend

Sunday morning was really chill.  Like last week, I tuned into the Climate Change series from NorthPoint.  Unfortunately, the lambo wasn’t featured this time :).  In the afternoon, I rode the metro down to Capitol Hill to work on a Greenpeace simulation project with my group.  We were given a sample scenario involving a college that had an on-campus coal plant;  our objective was to create and present a campaign plan to shut down the plant.  Essentially, it was a test of how well we absorbed the knowledge from the previous week.

National Memorial Concert with the Capitol Behind Me

Afterwards we headed to the National Memorial Concert on the Capitol lawn.  As we were walking into the event, we were blessed to catch the sun set behind the Washington monument on the other side of the National Mall.  The concert was being broadcast nationally, so it was super legit and very well run.  Daughtry played “Home” and Trace Adkins played as well.  Everything was going smoothly until about 30 mins into the show, when a random US Capitol police officer walked up to the stage and told the crowd to evacuate the grounds because of an approaching severe storm.  What?  Everyone looked confused, but eventually obeyed and cleared out.  Our group made it to Union Station just as the rain started.

Beach!

Seeing as Monday was Memorial Day, the group decided that a trip to the beach was in order.  So we all packed in one car and headed out to a national park near Annapolis, Maryland.  Driving up to the gates, we noticed that it was $7/person to enter.  Yeah, expensive.  Luckily the attendant didn’t see our back row and only charged us for 5 people instead of 8.  Win.

Spending the day on the beach was nice.  We were actually in the Chesapeake Bay and you could see a massive bridge in the distance across the water.  My Polish skin held up surprisingly well.

Liquid Chocolate Sugar

We started Tuesday off with our presentations.  The feedback we received was extremely helpful.  One of the Greenpeace staff actually flew in from California to watch our presentation… sweet.  We then broke for lunch. And it was during this time, I discovered something that would change my life.  Hidden on the super expensive coffee machine in the kitchen was a button labeled “Hot Chocolate.”  It was clearly mislabeled, because what came out was more  like liquid chocolate sugar.  It. was. incredible.  After I got over my discovery, I moved downstairs to the lower level conference room to finish out the day listening to a training about phone banks.

A Beautiful Game

I woke up on Wednesday thinking about one thing… the game.  US v. Brazil National Soccer Game.  I had never seen the US national team play in person, yet alone the Brazilian team.  Expectations were high.  Only a full day of training stood in the way.

We started off the day with a student coordinator telling us about crafting our Story of Us, Self, and Now.  It’s hard to explain, but in essence it’s your personal story that morphs and ties into a story of us (society).  The personal aspect of my Story of Us, Self, and Now had to do with my Dad.  I tend to do a lot of research on climate issues, which invariably turns up mostly depressing articles.  A couple of times he has gotten tired of me regurgitating all of this information and not acting on it.  So, he fairly asked “What are you going to do about it?”  The Greenpeace semester is one of my first steps.

Just as we were ending the training, our leader came in looking a little distraught.  “We need to evacuate.”

Ummmmm… okay.  Since she didn’t look like she was kidding, we quickly exited the building.

Once we got outside, we began discussing what might have happened.  Apparently, construction on the upper floor wasn’t being done properly and toxic chemicals were coming through the vents.  The first thought that ran through my head was “Great.  How am I supposed to get my hot chocolate?”

After a while, we headed back into the office, but into a part that was supposed to be “clear.”  The rest of the day consisted of training and practice of class raps.  We also got a tour of the array of solar panels on the roof.

Metro was packed.

Finally, the day was over and we headed out to the stadium.  As expected the metro was SUPER crowded.  We then had a mile walk from the metro to the game.  We made it just as the game was starting.  Our seats were in the standing room section at the way top of the stadium.  As we arrived the sun was setting just over the top of the stadium.

Sunset During the US v. Brazil Game

Overall, the game was a ton of fun.  We got to see Tim Howard, Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan, and the Brazilian squad.  Brazil dominated us (4-1), but it was fun to cheer for the US goal and also to see the Brazilians play the game.  Watching them play really demonstrates why its called “the beautiful game”.  We ended up leaving really early to get to the metro before the crowds, but still ended up getting packed like sardines.  We also barely made it home (caught one of the last metro trains that night).

Phone-Banking

Thursday’s trainings were at the Warehouse.  A good word to describe the day was: Lag.  Everybody was tired from the game the night before and I’m surprised some of us didn’t fall asleep.  Don’t get me wrong, the trainings were good, but we were just all so tired.  Eventually, we made it to supper time.  Tonight was our first phone bank (basically just calling people off a member list to get them to come out to an event), so we had to stay late and order pizza.  During supper, we listened to a presentation from David Bollier about the commons.  His presentation was just a quick overview about shared resources (like water) and how we turn them into commodities.  His talk was extremely engaging and I felt like I was listening to a TED talk.

Next, we moved into one more round of phone banking training; how to run a phone bank, why we phone bank, and how to make the actual calls.  Finally, the time came and we moved upstairs into a section of the Greenpeace office to begin our phone bank.  My first call was beautiful…. not only did the person answer (most people don’t answer), but the guy said that he would attend the event.  I was pumped.  Just to give you an idea of how rare a “yes” is, that was one of my two yeses the entire night (1 hr and 30 mins of calling).  Although I only got two yeses, I got to talk to so many people about fracking (for those that don’t know, it’s an extremely obtrusive and damaging way to get natural gas) and really felt like I was making a difference for the first time.  After the phone bank, we debriefed and headed out.  On the metro, I got to chat with one of our leaders.. incredibly intelligent and passionate guy.

Special Project

Although Thursday was a late night, there wasn’t too much lag on Friday.  We started off the day with a briefing by the forests campaign.  It was interesting to hear about all the different forests that Greenpeace fights for and the predictions they have about the Congo being the next frontier.  Deforestation accounts for 20% of greenhouse emissions, so its an important fight.   Forests also supply a lot of our oxygen;  the Amazon is often referred to as the “Lungs of the Earth”.  We then kicked back and watch a documentary on Oceans.  It was extremely depressing at parts, but it was a good to hear about contemporary issues with the oceans.

After lunch, we came together to get our official briefing for the Whale Project.  Since our action is on Monday, I’ll explain exactly what this is in next week’s post.  We broke into groups (I chose the Online realm) then started right away hashing out our tactics for the action.  As part of the online team, I will be making updates to the Greenpeace Semester Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr accounts during the event.  Also, I’ll get to co-write a blog post for the Greenpeace Blog. Just as we were about to wrap up for the day, a massive storm blew in and wiped out our power.  I still went to the metro, but of course a tree was down across the tracks and the buses that were supposed to step in had difficulty navigating the flooding roads.  Sweet :/.  It took me forever to get home, but at least I got on the ABC 7 news waiting for the metro.

Another Round of Museums

Saturday consisted of a trip downtown to take in the sights.  My first stop was the National Archives.

National Archives

Wow… the original Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights.  The Archives were so cool.. not only was there a ton of security, but the building was kept dim and cool to preserve the documents.

Air and Space Museum

After that, I explored the National Air and Space Museum.  They had a lot of WWII and early flight airplanes, but I found the space exhibits way more interesting.  Next, I headed over to the American Indian Museum.

American Indian Museum

The American Indian Museum had some incredible architecture and amazing food.  That’s one thing that I’ve found out about the Smithsonians… they all have over-the-top delicious food.  Yeah, it’s expensive, but it’s also crazy good.  After eating at the American Indian Museum, I hopped on the metro to the American Art Museum.

Artwork at the American Art Museum

Although I was there just to see the “Art of Video Games” exhibit, I ended up wandering around and seeing some fantastic artwork.  Oh, and there was some special event going on in the center of the Museum.  Looked legit.  Another great week in DC.

Incredible venue…

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