Continued from Trip to DC – Week Four…
Day Three – Some Real Conversations
Wednesday was another day in the field. This morning you could really start to see the lack of sleep tacking a toll on people. But then again, what’s a trip without sleep deprivation? Breakfast seemed to help perk people up though. Because of our lagging Internet, we moved our operation to a French bakery called Amelia’s. Here, we had training on giving feedback and the art of “sandwiching.” We then broke into realm time. Michelle and I wrote and sent out an email to people that signed our petition to keep them updated on events coming up. As expected, most of the emails were typed wrong (boo sloppy handwriting) and we also got a reply from someone that thought Duke was going to shut it down in 2015.
At Amelia’s, I sat next to a guy with a sweet “Love Never Fails” tattoo and a shirt that said “Together We Are a Force for Good”. Wait, I’ve heard that somewhere! Passion!! I asked him what he thought about Passion 2012 and he quickly broke into a smile and recounted his experience. Right now, he’s working on starting an urban ministry in Charlotte. Check him out on Twitter: @UrbanLifeCLT. Near the end of our conversation, he asked about our Quit Coal shirts; he then gladly listened to the pitch and signed our petition. Highlight of my day.
Before heading to our turf, we had one last order of business. A trip to the Marshall coal plant (or steam station as they like to call it). We drove around the parking lot trying to get a better view of the MASSIVE piles of coal waiting to be burned. Ironically, there was a Toyota Prius in the parking lot. Security quickly caught on that we weren’t workers and so we had to leave as they were coming out.
We switched up the partners today and so I was paired with Chris, the only other guy in the program. I don’t think we had any idea what was in store for us. To start off the day, we knocked on the door of this elderly man that wouldn’t stop talking. Yeah, he was a cool guy to talk to, but he just kept going on and on and we had other people to talk to. He somehow incorporated the quote “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step” to justify only giving us his name and not his other information that was just as important.
Our next conversation was a ton of fun. A middle-aged lady answered the door and listened to our pitch. However, she was upset that we were speaking out against “one of the most innovative and safe companies”. Excuse me? We used our response cycle skills and slowly got her on board, but just as she was about to sign, her husband came to the door. He said something like “Well where are we going to get our energy from?” I responded by saying “That’s a great question and it’s Duke’s responsibility to come up with alternatives and to transition off of old technology that pollutes our air and our water.” Apparently this guy had no soul and so he said “We aren’t signing” and closed the door. Just kidding about having no soul, but he was very unreasonable.
There were two more memorable stories from our day… one resulted in a signature and the other one wasn’t pretty. Our first encounter was with a coal miner. When I introduced myself as a volunteer with Quit Coal, he told me that his brother was a coal miner in West Virginia and that he had been one too. Game over, right? Well, actually this guy was extremely in favor of our petition and knew a lot about the solutions to our nation’s energy problems. He also had black lung from working in the mines. I was so grateful for his signature and story. That was the kind of experience that kept me going. Our last experience, on the other hand, was not pretty. We approached a lady who was out in her yard with her kids and dog. As we introduced ourselves, we could already tell that this was not going to be good. Her tone started off in a bad place and we didn’t watch our own voices and quickly matched it. She didn’t think coal was a problem and that renewables didn’t provide enough jobs. I mentioned that the wind industry employs more than the coal industry already. She said I was wrong. Okay, lady. Make up your own facts. After a little more argument, we left frustrated and with our first enemy. Thankfully she was the only crazy person we encountered during our day.
After canvassing, we headed over to the local Greenpeace meeting to share our canvassing experiences and see the community members that were working toward shutting down Duke’s coal plants. I always love having conversations with other passionate people.
Day Four – Day of Action
Thursday started off beautifully. Justin (one of our leaders) and I went out for a morning run in Charlotte. The weather was awesome and I decided to go barefoot. Running really helped me wake up and gave me a big appetite for breakfast.
Much of the morning was spent in realm time until around noon when we headed out to the neighborhood that we canvassed on Monday. Two of my classmates facilitated a canvassing training for a couple of community members and then we all went out canvassing for an hour or two. Justin and I went out together. He’s one of the best canvassers in the country and quickly made that apparent at the first door we knocked on. In order to cover all of our territory, we split up and each took a side of the street. Not too many stories from today, but I did get an “I love coal” goober. I barely got through my intro when he said “I love coal.” I tried to respond, but quickly learned that fighting this battle was pointless. You win goob.
As we tore through our territory, I got to talk to Justin some and hear some of his advice on campaigning. Almost wish I could take him back to my campus with me. One important advice that he gave was “Always be asking the question, will this work advance my campaign?”
Once we got back to the bungalow, I had the urge to do a physical challenge (Justin loves physical challenges). After some debate, we decided on “100 pushups in 10 minutes.” Doesn’t sound that hard, but try it. I made it, but was definitely really sore for the next couple of days.
Supper was incredible… bison burgers, pasta salad, pita bread… enough said. We all ate outside and just enjoyed spending time together. My favorite door from today was one where a lady answered that had never heard of mountain top removal. Justin pulled up a picture from our trip and she was immediately on board. Love it.
Day Five – Back to DC!
Up and out. Friday was all about getting back to DC. On our way out of Charlotte, we stopped by a prayer room that one of the students wanted to show us. It was so legit. Dimly lit, worship music playing, a big prayer board for the city, and quotes/verses painted on the floor. I wish we could have stayed longer, but we needed to get back home.
During the drive, I caught up on the Passion City Church messages. Louie spoke on John 16 and as usual, it was incredible. Since we had a little more time than our trip down, we took Skyline Drive and stopped in Shenandoah National Park for our debrief on the campaign trip. Beautiful place and weather. In the park, we came across a ton of deer and even a black bear.
An hour or so later, we saw two girls trying to hitchhike. We didn’t have room, but of course we still picked them up. The two (Lavender and Warrior – trail names) had been on the trail for two months and still had four more to go. They were trying to make it visit a couple of friends, but obviously didn’t have a car so we helped them out. The rest of the trip to DC was in the dark and I was thankful that the topic of faith came up and I got to share with one of our leaders about Passion and Christianity. It was cool to see my prayer answered through this opportunity. We arrived in DC around midnight and hopped on the metro toward home.
The majority of my Saturday was spent sleeping and catching up on random work. However, I did get to check out the national zoo. The otters were by far my favorites, but seriously there was so much to see there and I definitely recommend visiting. What a long week…