A Quaker-led pilgrimage along the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline route passed by Londonderry on Saturday before the group finished the day in Pelham, with five more miles left of their journey to Dracut, Mass.
The intention of the 12-day, 150-mile pilgrimage from Winchester to Dracut was to raise awareness for climate change, posing the question, “Climate change: An invitation to new life?”
“Nothing is being done systematically to deal with it, to the point people are proposing a pipeline project,” said organizer Jay O’Hara of Massachusetts, a member of the Young Adult Friends Climate Working Group, a group of New England Quakers working to address the issue of climate change.
The pilgrimage was not a protest of the proposed pipeline.
O’Hara said walking the length of the pipeline and seeing the land to be affected was symbolic and offered the pilgrims, as well as the dozens of locals who joined them to walk portions of the route, an opportunity to ask themselves, regarding the issue of climate change, “what am I to do?”
The group was overwhelmed with support along the way – locals brought them baked goods and attended potluck dinners at the churches that hosted them each night.
A woman brought to one of the potlucks scarves she knitted to keep the pilgrims warm along the way.
“I thought, this is love,” said Meg Klepack of Vermont, also an organizer with Young Adult Friends Climate Working Group.
Klepack said the group was surprised by the overwhelmingly positive response to their journey, and that they did not encounter any opposition to their message along the way.
At a potluck after their 10th day walking, the group spoke with a local man whose home sits directly on the proposed pipeline route. In their conversation with the man, the pilgrims discovered he was the driver of a Discount Oil truck that honked at them earlier in the day.
“It was so clear the level of interest in the pipeline project by the number of honks we got and the number of signs we saw along the way,” she said. “This is clearly a really hot issue.”
O’Hara said although Kinder Morgan’s route does pass through Londonderry, the pilgrimage by passed the Town because of the substantial amount of distance it would have added to their journey.
Through his travels and conversations with locals who are to be affected by the pipeline, O’Hara thinks it’s still possible for communities opposed to the pipeline to prevent its construction.
“The fact that there have already been towns in Massachusetts that have forced the re-routing of the pipeline and those people are still working with the people in New Hampshire, it seems like there is a unique coalescing of people around this,” he said. “Every town we go into there are signs everywhere and people at potlucks eager to share their stories.”
For more information about the pilgrimage and the Young Adult Friends Climate Working Group, visit http://pipelinepilgrimage.org.