With 15 miles only to go we hit the road at 10 am immediately finding that the Avenue Verte was distinctly grey asphalt and well-attended by parisienne traffic and lorries. We were very impressed by the green grass carpet for the trams though. It should help reduce run off, noise, peak temperatures & glare in summer. What a great idea! We imagined a tram with flymo attachment would make the grass-cutting easy too.
|Lorries a bit intimidating as we enter Paris proper|
|Grass carpet treatment for the trams. Brilliant idea!|
|Banner by the Seine|
We had a glorious brunch stop at a patisserie (so it’s not all hair-shirt on a cycle pilgrimage!) made all the more memorable by the warm attentiveness of the Moroccan shop-keeper and also by meeting a group of young activists from Actiba in Lyon. From them we heard that a ‘Chaine Humaine’, a linking of hands all along the cancelled march route is planned on Sunday morning.
The first event for us was at the ‘Pilgrims Welcome’ in the Eglise de Merri in rue St Martin north of Notre Dame. Here we met a so many pilgrims. We had been asked to make a presentation and bring an object of significance. A large group of young people ‘Our Voices’ who had walked from Rome from September to express the voice of the voiceless, those who are not heard. Some had taken a vow of silence with friends speaking for them. The vow lasted days or even weeks for some and was passed around the group like a baton. Many of them had come from the Philippines. They had a great song with a catchy chorus. I’ll attach a video if I find out how).
|Our Voice walked from Rome with many Philippinos|
Another pair had cycled from Vietnam starting in February. They told us of how the 0.9deg C rise in temperature was already significantly affecting many of the countries they passed through – mountains with lost snow caps, rising sea level and salinity, spreading deserts.
A Eco-congregation baton was brought from Scotland which was launched by the Scottish environment minister and had been through the hands of more than 10,000 people, the length of the land from Kirk Yetholm in the south to Shetland from Hebrides to Fife, as many schools as possible (I thought I heard every one!).
A group from Peru who were suing the major corporations which had physically caused most greenhouse gases, RWE the utility from Germany being mentioned.
There was a moving call from a British woman on the Islamic Climate Justice Declaration launched in Istanbul this August. Bhuddists and Jews were also there. Another from the Pan-African Climate Justice Coalition who said ‘we did not make the problem but’ we must now forget the recriminations and look for solutions together.
We brought the house down with our re-written (by our two Clares) rendition of Widdecombe Fair, with the help of Clare on the tin whlstle, Geoff (a folk-singer) teaching our audience the chorus. A verse to give the flavour, sung with maximum gusto and anunciation:-
As we were cycling to COP vingt-et-un
Roll along, speed along Avenue Verte
We found inspiration to help us along
In God’s good creation, with lapwings and herons, and donkeys and turkeys, wind turbines and velos,
And people are hoping change
The Pilgrims are calling for change!
World leaders are meeting for COP 21
Roll along, speed along Avenue Verte
We hope that they’ll join us in singing our song (that’s Cameron & Putin, Obama & Hollande, Xi Zingh Ping & Modi)
With binding commitments & budgets to match them, renewable power, decarbonisation,
We want Climate Justice for All
Shalom for the Planet, That’s All!
We made our way quite late to the Ecouen centre, in older converted buildings like a small youth hostel (although only our leader would qualify on age) funded by a US church, 20 miles out. Some Tearfund workers were our hosts.
Could be an exciting Saturday and Sunday!