Today started with not-enough-caffeine and a long train ride from one suburb of Paris to another. With one journalist and one film-maker friend from Texas, I headed to Le Jardin d’Alice, an artist space that has been transformed into a constant massive art-build and hub for connections and creative movement building. They fixed me right up on my caffeine addiction and have been absolutely PHENOMENAL hosts and organizers, at such a critical moment. I am truly astounded and grateful, and I’ve barely spent a few hours there.

France is in an extended “State of Emergency” since the terrorist attacks last month, when 130 people were killed in a number of coordinated attacks on the same night. There are a fair number of military and police officers stationed around the city, to be sure — not at all surprising given how many high-level politicians are here in Paris right now for the United Nations UNFCC COP-21 negotiations.

Sadly, the State of Emergency has been used in a discriminatory fashion toward the climate justice movement. Faith-based and other large cultural events such as sports games are still occurring with little pause from the government,whereas some climate activists have engaged in hours of negotiation for public events, and other climate activists have had their home raided and even been put into house arrest for choosing to still create space for a public voice on the climate crisis.

The group seems to be going ahead with its plans to have a large gathering for a “red line” protest on December 12th — I happened to walk into the making space as the last little bit of white inside the lines disappeared.

I had the joy of exchanging a “Hey!” and quick hug with David Solnit (pictured), who was a program leader for the “GROW: Climate Justice” training that the UU College of Social Justice and UUYACJ had last Summer in Chicago. So that makes FIVE alums now, that I’ve run in to so far on this trip!

It’s incredibly late here now, so I’ll have to continue Update #2 tomorrow.
Here is some more beautiful protest artwork, for your information and inspiration:

 Updates from Paris – #COP21 – Part 2.2 – Visiting the Climate Generations “Green Zone” & Our Voices Worship

At Le Jardin d’Alice yesterday I met Jaazeal — a very kind, Catholic educator, artist and climate justice organizer from the Phillippines. Jazeel, myself, and my friend Bekah went together to the publicly accessible zone of the official #COP21 negotiation site. 
It’s a large tent / shipping-container type building that you must take a bus to. It’s got those tree-like wind mills you’ve seen on a blog once:
In nearby buildings are restricted areas where I’m not credentialed to go. Most of the updates from UUs with credentials are being posted here on this Facebook Page (link).

So Bekah and I wandered around for a bit. We both love painting, so the most meaningful element during our time there was painting on a communal mural at a pavilion space for Indigenous Nations, depicting a future in harmony with nature:
 After this, I went back to Le Jardin d’Alice to help with art production and to enjoy their cooking. I had planned to attend an interfaith service hosted by Our Voices afterwards, and unfortunately I arrived too late to see the service. From what I heard from the other UUA delegates, it was a very grounding and spiritually uplifting worship.

A significant part of the ceremony was the welcoming of the People’s Pilgrimage to Paris, after their 1500 km journey on-foot from Rome. Many of the marchers are climate and faith organizers from the Phillipines — colleagues of my new friend Jaazeal. They led the interfaith worshipers in a beautiful song that was an anthem for their journey:

Jaazeal introduced me to Yeb Saño, who was a leader for the pilgrimage and who has been adamantly campaigning for climate justice for many years. Yeb became well known for fasting and mourning while he was serving as a diplomat during the UN COP talks in Warsaw last year, as his country the Philippines was devastated by super-typhoon Haiyan (aka Yolanda). I am inspired by his leadership and the path that he is walking as a faith leader in the climate movement, on the front-lines of the climate crisis. I will certainly take more time soon to read blog posts from his pilgrimages this year.
Me and Jaazeal
Yeb and I
Posing with Doris and David, from the UUA’s official delegation