Yep, that's us in the video, among 115 people, me in the black long-sleeved shirt, Woody wearing a bright orange life vest, and Fox with mostly just his little blond head peeking out from beneath signs and elbows. (We're solo from about 3:15 to 3:27, when we had stepped away from the crowd to be able to talk some and take it all in from a distance.)
The protest to keep huge commercial hog farms and the like out of the Buffalo National River watershed was pretty terrific. I had lined up help and was prepared to bail if the boys weren't into it, but they had a good time. Leading up to it, we talked about the river, and the problem of the CAFO, and the power of direction action. I reiterated how we could call Daddy Honey or walk back if they didn't like it. But it was like a street party with a mission, a gathering of many familiar faces from the co-op, the Goddess Festival, the community farm, church, and homeschool group activities, among other connections.
Woody loved the chants the best, but was also tickled by the clever and catchy signs. His spirits were high for nearly the whole hour, and he happily chatted with the many folks who asked him about the issue, homeschooling, and his experience with the river. Fox was glad to have an up-close view of passers-by from the other side of our UU banner; I think with the banner on one side of him and me on the other, he felt part of things, but protected from too much jostling. And I was flush with that wonderful feeling that I was among "my people"--the clean-water people, the peace people, the Standing on the Side of Love people, the Woody Guthrie songs at the protest people, the people who aren't afraid to call the land we stand on sacred, and who say it like it starts with a capital S.
We ran into our neighbor, Gavin, who is pictured there on the right talking to Fox.
I was thankful that my boys shared these people's smiles and felt their solidarity, and from the handful of my close church friends, their love and protection. I thought I'd feel weird about it, about being there with my church rather than on my own, about involving my kids in such a big and intense political action. But when it came time, the words, the mood, the experience--it all felt completely natural and good, not at all strained or coercive or divisive. The positive feeling was reinforced when I looked at my kids and saw how obvious it was that they were there by choice, were totally engaged, and were happy.