People MAKE the People’s March for Climate, Jobs, Justice 2017: Ventura CA

On Saturday, April 29, the People spoke about Climate, Jobs, and Justice.

  • we spoke with our feet as we marched
  • we spoke through our signs
  • we spoke with our voices through chants, cheers, song
  • we spoke through our actions–
  • our circles of unity
  • our swarm
  • our thermo-climb
  • read more about why!
  • and more background here

With help from Heather Casanave and John Golson, we were able to take my vision of a human rainbow switchbacking up a hillside at the Ventura Botanical Garden: for the Ventura Climate March we co-created a human thermometer and we made it happen with 450-500 people who came from Ventura, Santa Barbara and Los Angeles Counties to participate.

Back story: When Heather went to sign up to participate in a march in Ventura and saw that there wasn’t one yet, she signed Ventura up — only to discover that now she was in charge! I contacted her to tell her about my vision of the hillside populated by people wearing the colors of the rainbow with red in the lead to show that climate change is anthropogenic, meaning caused by humans, and that it is humans that will be bringing down the temperature and reducing carbon emissions too.

I met John Golson at RESIST at the Ventura beach: he jumped in and helped organize everyone into a double heart. Then I ran into him a few days later in town where I told him about my idea and I learned that he is the official photographer for the Ventura Botanic Garden. With him on board, it was just a matter of deciding WHEN to do it. With news of the Climate March on April 29, we knew that was the time to rally everyone and make it happen.

Heather Casanaves, Co-Organizer. Initiated the march in response to Peoples Climate March Outreach. photo by John Golson

Fortunately, Heather was open to the idea of creating a human thermometer AND  thrilled to have us on board to help her organize it!

In three short weeks, the three of us met with the City of Ventura and representatives from the Ventura Botanical Garden.

With the green light and support from both of these organizations (thanks especially to Denise Sindelar of the City of Ventura and Police Commissioner Dickey plus Barbara Brown and Joe Cahill of the Ventura Botanical Garden), we hit the ground running: applying for permits, searching for food trucks, arranging porta-lets, and more.

While we tried to get other climate and environmental groups to help us, no one was up for the challenge– everyone was busy already with Earth Day and other commitments including the Youth Climate March, the Science March, and the Climate March in Santa Barbara. They did offer to help get the word out and to attend.

We also got our RESIST drone crew on board again: Maxwell Mandell and Mike Love.

Maxwell Mandell, 15 years old and pilot of this drone, getting ready to take off.

Because the emphasis for our event was on creating these images, we didn’t want to have too many speakers, too much speechifying, too much talk that people would probably have a hard time hearing. We wanted it to be about making art!

While we talked about having musicians but we didn’t have time to do much in that department, imagine my surprise when I arrived to find a duo performing folk songs and other protest music! And they had a mic and an amplifier! And people sang along with their songs!

With Chumash elder Julie Tumamait-Stenslie unable to attend, I asked Shasta Tribe Member and Ecopsychologist Barbara Bain to begin our gathering, and  she led us in a beautiful ceremony and prayer which included an offering of tobacco and pouring a quart of sacred water onto the soil in the center of our group. Jim Hines of the Sierra Club spoke with us about the threats to our planet, our one and only home. Photos below by Chad Denning.


About 750 people gathered, from far and wide, most of them colorfully and creatively dressed and many carrying signs as shown in these two photos by John Golson:

In Vtown visiting and participated in our Climate March.

These women came to Ventura to swarm with us.

More signs and colorful characters at Mission Park from photos by Chad Denning:


Next we engaged in organizing a rainbow around the huge Moreton fig tree in the park: we asked people in reds to come closest to the tree, then we had a ring of oranges and yellows followed by greens and blues, and on the outside, indigo and purple to show our commitment to diversity. Then we moved into a huge ring around the tree to show our unity for justice for all.

Ventura Climate March, Mission Park, Drone photo by Maxwell Mandell, Rainbow and Unity Circle.

Ventura Climate March, Mission Park, Drone photo by Maxwell Mandell, Rainbow and Unity Circle.

The next stage was to SWARM from Mission Park to the Ventura Botanical Garden behind City Hall. Some chose Valdez Alley to Poli (and some kept going up to Grant Park and then came back down to find us at the parking behind City Hall!) while the rest choose one side of Main or the other. Here are some photos by Chad Denning:


Some of the “bees” peeled off and headed to greener pastures, but about 475 of us made it to Grant Park for the next stage: the THERMO-CLIMB!

Diane Paillette-Von Heyneman rolled from Mission Park to the Ventura Botanical Garden where she rolled up the trail with her contingent of fellow violet wearers! You can’t see them but her socks match the rainbow on her hat!

Barbara Brown and other volunteers from the Ventura Botanical Garden greeted us there with information about the Garden, some enjoyed ice water donated from the Ventura Water Store, and some purchased juice, tea, and snacks. Profits as well as all donations will go to fund the portapotties and other expenses; we raised just over $1,ooo in donations which will cover our costs, allow us to make a small donation to the Ventura Botanical Garden AND we will be able to send a postcard to everyone who gave us there address!


Then we assembled into lines of color prior to our Thermo-Climb, and Barbara Brown climbed a ladder and spoke to those assembled. Bhante Sutadhara of the Ventura Buddhist Mission was also to speak but he parked above us and hiked down following us!

Here’s an image by John K. Golson that shows our colorful assembly:

Marchers organize to climb Ventura Botanical Gardens trail for “Therm-O-Climb” a human banner event concieved by Gwendalyn Alley and John K. Golson.

Photos below by Chad Denning:


Here’s Helen O’Neill on the Ventura Botanical Garden Trail:

Finally, after months of contemplation and conversation, John with his camera and Maxwell with his drone got these images:

Marchers climb the lower trail, arranged by color of clothing. We painted the trail with a human rainbow of unity.

Marchers climb the lower trail, arranged by color of clothing. We painted the trail with a human rainbow of unity.


We gathered, We swarmed, We climb. Ventura Climate March 2017

Thanks again to Barbara Brown and the Ventura Botanical Garden for hosting us!

A huge thanks goes to our supporting team — for me that’s my husband Marshall Sheridan who helps us set up on Friday and Saturday, provided us with materials to organize everyone — clipboards, duct tape, temporary paint, patience, errands, stayed until the very end loading up our van with the ladder, the ice chests, the water jugs, and so much more. I’m also so grateful to Kyle Coolidge, one of my students at VC, who skipped a baseball game to help literally “hold down the fort”! The wind kept trying to fly the EZ up like a kite, and Kyle is tall enough to reach up and hold it down when necessary! He also hung out at the Ventura Botanical Garden to keep an eye on everything and keep people from parking in the lot.

Thanks Michelle for your help!

A shout out also to Michelle Brune, Heather’s best friend, who took the megaphone and made sure that Heather got her money back for the portalets! We appreciate Maxwell Mandell of Minpin Films and Realtor Mike Love for flying their drones and sharing their photos with us; it wouldn’t have been the same with out that high in the sky perspective.

A big thank you also to Chad Denning who I invited last minute to take photos — Chad’s son and my son were on the same baseball teams a few times and I loved the photos he got of the kids playing ball so I knew he’d give us a wonderful perspective of the people who were there marching with us.

Thank you everyone for attending and participating and supporting the March for Climate, Jobs, and Justice!

Did you attend a Climate March? Are you in one of the photos? Please share YOUR story in the comments!