With the campaign trip finished, we had just one week left at Greenpeace. The first part of the week was spent at the Warehouse receiving training on nonviolent direct action and industrial climbing. We started off with an overview of nonviolence and through a couple of exercises, really dug into our perceptions on nonviolence. One of the first things our trainer demonstrated to us was how we are predisposed to competition as opposed to cooperation. It’s hard to explain without showing you, but he gave us a simple exercise to complete that had two ways to complete. One was competitive, while the other was cooperative. All of us chose the competitive option naturally and were surprised when he showed us how to solve it cooperatively. He also pointed out a problem with the word nonviolence; when activists speak about actions and mention that they are “nonviolent” the mind naturally picks up on the “violent”, which can cause unfavorable reactions. After lunch, we discussed nonviolent movements throughout history “Jesus, MLK, etc”. Overall, our first day back in DC was pretty chill.
On Tuesday, we hit the ropes. We started off the morning learning various knots.. Double Fishermen’s knot, Clove hitch, and Prusik to name a few. Our trainer then gave us an overview of all the equipment we would need and how to setup our climbing systems. In no time, I was at the top of the warehouse. Unfortunately, we had only learned a crude way to get down, so I spent a while getting back to the ground. We then practiced rappelling. The first time was a little nerve-wracking, but after that it was a ton of fun. Finally, before leaving we combined our climbing technique with rappelling. This time I was able to scale to the roof then switch to my rappel gear and rappel fairly quickly back to the ground. Lots of fun.
Wednesday was essentially the same as the day before, but we got to practice with top of the line professional equipment. During our rappelling time, I setup on a side platform and was able to do a “Spiderman” drop and helicopter rappel. We spent most of the day climbing with ascendors and toward the end did some problem solving with knots in our climbing ropes.
Wrapping Up the Summer
Our last two days were back at the office. Thursday morning was spent in conversation with a couple of important people at the Greenpeace office. After hearing about how they got started at Greenpeace, we had a Q&A session about everything from working at Greenpeace to tips for us as we go back to campus. Lunch was special. Another student and I got to go out with Charlie Cray, Greenpeace’s research specialist. Charlie focuses on how corporations control our democracy. His research culminated in his book, The People’s Business: Controlling Corporations and Restoring Democracy. He was an extremely intelligent and interesting guy. When we got back to the office, he gave us a copy of his book. Bonus!
The rest of the afternoon was spent in last minute trainings… Meeting with Decision Makers, Delegation/Accountability, and Individual Meetings. A lot of training, but the time flew by so fast. After class, I stopped by Urban Outfitters with a couple of friends then headed into the heart of the city to hit up the few remaining sights that I had missed earlier. Walking across the national mall with all of the monuments lit up at night was so legit. Tonight was my last chance to see the Lincoln memorial, so I headed straight toward it. It was quite a trek, but along the way I got to see the WWII memorial, Vietnam Memorial, and the Constitution Gardens pond. Oh, and the Washington Monument was amazing at night too. After a mile or two of walking, I made it to the Lincoln Memorial. Along the walls, the Emancipation Proclamation was carved into the stone. I had no idea how massive and impressive the Lincoln memorial was.
Unfortunately, Friday was our last day at Greenpeace. It’s hard to imagine not being in DC and walking into the Greenpeace office everyday with all of my friends, but at the same time, I miss my family, my cats, and Passion City Church. The morning was spent with Greenpeace USA’s executive director, Phil Radford. His vision and passion for Greenpeace was so inspiring and it was cool to talk to the mind that originally conceived the Greenpeace Semester. For lunch, we had a potluck and invited the rest of the office to join us. Since it was a Friday, not too many people dropped in, but we did get to meet some more cool Greenpeace staff.
The rest of the day was spent doing a Greenpeace tradition. I don’t want to ruin the surprise for anyone that might attend the program, but will share one thing that I learned from the experience.
Faith lived out is impactful.
We then wrapped up our day with some last “Hot Tips” and headed out to a group barbecue. At the barbecue we said our final goodbyes to our leaders then all headed to the metro to go home. Chris and I took a little long saying goodbye to half of the group (they had to take the opposite train) and when we turned around to find Sarah, were faced with a closed metro door with her on the other side. There was nothing we could do, so we just had to watch her go as the train took off lol.
There was only one goal on Saturday; make it to the airport for my flight. After cleaning thoroughly and eating as much of my remaining food as I could, I headed out with all of my stuff to the metro.
Since my flight was after supper, I had some time to kill in DC. First Stop: Starbucks. I got off for the last time at the Gallery Place-Chinatown metro station and made my way across the street from the Greenpeace office to Starbucks. After a long walk to the metro, a cold drink hit the spot. My next stop was Urban Outfitters. I wasted literally hours in here looking for clothes. I ended up getting a hat, couple of shirts, and a pair of jeans. Expensive, but worth it. Plus, I can say the clothes are from DC. One of my good friends had recently recommended a book called “The Reason for God” by Tim Keller, so I decided to head over to Barnes & Noble to pick it up. On my way down, I stumbled upon a massive barbecue festival. Win.
Eventually I made it to the airport and onto my flight. The flight went by fast and soon enough, I was back in Atlanta. Unfortunately, my phone died on the way, so I used my door-to-door skills to get someone’s phone so I could call my parents. At home, this beautiful sign greeted me :). The rest of the night was spent with family and friends.
And that was the GREENPEACE SEMESTER….