Friday, November 30, 2012

Street Love

November 12, 2012.  Capitol Hill. 
The Supreme Court of the United States of America.

These were all behind me as my stroll eastward had turned back toward the west.  Pennsylvania Avenue was my route for a few blocks before I would return to Constitution Avenue.  In January, everything will be cordoned off and swept for President Obama's second inaugural parade.

Ahead of me, I saw a not-so-unfamiliar sight:  someone seated on the sidewalk, earthly possessions wrapped in black trash bags to keep them dry. 

Then a large sign:  NO FREE GHG DUMPING.  GHG?  Oh, as in "greenhouse gases".  OK, cool!  I'm down with that.  Next to the sign, something else:  a moderately sized solar panel.  I was intrigued.

I walked past the man, and around the west side I saw that he had another large graphic with very nice layout:  YOU'LL LET OUR KIDS DROWN?  Info about GHG levels, warming, sea level rise. 

I had to talk to this man and circled back several steps.  We began to chat.  That's when I noticed his laptop computer being recharged by his solar panel.  The man was actively working.  Turns out he was lobbying the Congress for action on climate change, global warming and reducing GHG output.  The graphic showed he had his ducks in a row. 

Here he was, "walking" his talk while seated on his gear.  Actually trying to DO something instead of just complaining or pointing fingers.  Quietly working on behalf of all of us. 

"Hurricane Sandy is nothing compared to what's coming unless we do something soon," he said.  I agreed and pointed out (to me at least) the inadequate sandbags around the ground level ventilation grates and utility tunnel covers in front of the Internal Revenue Service and other major buildings on Constitution Ave.  

I also pointed out what I had seen earlier on a little relic gate house on the Ellipse just southeast of the White House:  high water marks from 1877 and again in 1881.  Either, in my opinion, would easily have overtopped the IRS sandbags.  These watermarks came before sea level rise, a warming atmosphere holding more water vapor, loss of polar ice, and the loss of barrier islands all along our shores.  

We chatted more and discussed why I was in town:  Veterans Day.  30th Anniversary of the Wall.  I mentioned that Washington, DC, with all its memorials, does not show the human cost of war.  There are no bronze sculptures depicting PTSD, alcoholism, domestic violence, chemical dependency, amputations, TBI, broken families, loss of siblings, spouses, parents, sons and daughters.  No public memorial statues, paintings or carvings describe to us the tragedy of these dirty words:  Soldier Suicides.  Veteran Suicides.  Spouse Suicides.  

As I was about to leave, I introudced myself.  "I'm Roger from Portland, Oregon,"  I said.  Shaking the man's hand, I noticed the three crosses tattooed on his forehead.  "And what's your name," I asked?

"On the street, I'm known as Loving," he replied.   "L-O-V-I-N-G."  

"That's a wonderful name,"  I said.  "I'm proud to know you."

God is good, we agreed.  Indeed.  

I often think of the now-ancient lyrics of Simon and Garfunkel:

And the words of the prophets are written on the subway walls,
and tenement halls...    

Sometimes, even on Pennsylvania Avenue, if we are willing to see and hear or introduce ourselves... 

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