Front Porch Blog

Emily and Marty give MTR a presence at NH primaries

DAY 1:
Marty and I made the pilgrimage from Middlebury, Vermont to the primaries in New Hampshire early in the morning on Monday, November 7th, the last day of rallying for the before the polls opened on Tuesday. After a few too many wrong turns off the highway, and a stop at Kinkos to pick up materials, we suddenly found ourselves on the streets of Concord, NH, overwhelmed and exhilarated by the circus of supporters and signs.

We walked around Concord and began speaking to individuals and handing out our flyers to whoever seemed willing to talk. We made a point of not representing a particular candidate, which allowed us to speak to all kinds of voters without being prejudged. We happened upon an impromptu Obama rally, lead by Bill Bradley (former NJ Senator). Below is a picture of Marty handing him a flyer and speaking to him about MTR!

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An hour or two later, we attended our first official rally which was for John McCain. McCain has actually been the most vocal of all the Republican candidates about his energy issues, and the first issue he spoke directly about was climate change. (Check out this article from the Boston Globe on the rally.) The most exciting part of the rally, however, came at the very end. As he was walking back towards his bus and greeting people, I stood up on a snowbank and was able to hand him one of our flyers (this was the one that said “MTR has destroyed 470 mountains. Are you connected?” and listed the website). He took the flyer, looked up at it and took one step, and when he looked up again Marty was standing there with the flyer in her hand as well. She said “Hi! You’ve already got one of these from my friend, so…” but he interrupted her and, taking her hand and looking her directly in the eye, said “Thank you, thank you so much. I am going to stop the removal of the mountains. Thank you for fighting for a cause bigger than yourself!” Then, as if that weren’t enough… are you ready for this?!!… he HUGGED HER! He literally gave her a big hug! (I was too busy watching in astonishment to bother taking a photo… darn! I wish I had!) For a front-running Republican presidential candidate to not only address plans for aggressive climate change policy but also to openly state his opposition to MTR is huge; McCain represents an enormous step for the climate movement by making climate change a bipartisan issue in the 2008 elections.

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The rest of the day was spent walking around and talking to other people in Manchester, getting lost trying to get to the Hillary event, which ended up having so much traffic that we didn’t have time to go, and talking to a huge number of people waiting in line at the Obama rally. Here’s what Marty has to say about that experience:

Another highlight of the day was actually the three hours we spent waiting outside the Concord High School gym before Obama’s speech last night. There was a line of people about a kilometer long, so Emily and I took advantage of the opportunity to talk to the crowd about mountaintop removal! We started at opposite ends of the line and talked to every family, couple, and group of friends waiting in line. I’d say we talked to over 700 people before the doors opened and we went inside to see Obama. To me, this was even more exhilarating than talking to Bill Bradley, seeing McCain look me in the eye and tell me he is going to stop mountaintop removal, or watching Barack Obama take the Appalachian Voices flyer in his hand, look at it, and nod his head to me. Here we had a captive audience (they were waiting in an unmoving line, after all) and we were able to have actual conversations with them about mountaintop removal, not just hand them a flyer and get in a sentence or two in passing. There were a huge number of people who had never heard of mountaintop removal coal mining and were taken aback by what we had to say, and people were psyched to get back home and enter their zipcode on ilovemountains.org and find their connection! One woman who I ended up talking to for about 5 minutes told me as we parted that she was going to have a gathering at her house with all her friends to tell them about it! Below is a photo of Barack Obama speaking about climate change with members of Step It Up standing behind him wearing red “Make Global Warming a Priority” t-shirts.

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DAY 2:
The day of the NH primaries has arrived! There was a buzz in the air all day long, and people were anxious for the results to be counted. We spent most of the day with a table set up outside the Step it Up Action Center on the main street in Manchester, NH. We talked to all sorts of voters – young and old, democrats and republicans, men and women – including individuals from the press and the candidate’s staff. Our large and powerful MTR poster (which you can see in the background of the following photo) did a great job conveying to voters the sheer enormity of mountaintop removal.

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People seemed genuinely interested and intrigued. Marty spoke with students from Endicott College who were making a short film about the Primaries, and with reporters from several other local newspapers. There were no official rallies today, since it was voting day, but the streets were filled with people supporting candidates and talking with one another about policies and stances. We talked to supporters of just about every candidate, from Ron Paul to Rudy to Hillary. It was an exciting day to be part of!

You can contact Emily and Marty at emadler@gmail.com or marty.schnure@gmail.com.

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