We Need More Climate Superheroes – Mr. Eco

Eco Hero Lucas Marching with "Be an Eco Hero" Sign during March for Real Climate Leadership - February 7, 2015 - Photo: Steven MarxMr. Eco’s visit to his school last year inspired the youngest activist in the San Luis Obispo contingent to march in Oakland on Saturday protesting fracking.

Seven-year-old Lucas showed more foresight and creativity than I did by making and bringing his own sign “Be an Eco Hero.”

As far as I am concerned, Lucas is the eco-hero of our group.

After the march, Mr. Eco stuck in my mind so I googled ‘Mr. Eco’ and discovered photos of a young man wearing a green and yellow superhero costume complete with a cape and a pendant made with a compact fluorescent light bulb. How cool, I was intrigued and surfed the web to learn more about him.

Mr. Eco

Originally, from Fresno, CA, Brett Edwards found his calling as Mr. Eco during his undergrad days at Cal Poly University, San Luis Obispo, where he earned a business administration degree in 2013.

In 2011, Edwards combined his interests in the environment and hip-hop music with an apparent flair for costume design to promote energy efficiency on campus and via video tips aired before and during football and soccer games. He secured a $5,000 sponsorship from Pacific Gas and Electric to pay for the video spots. Mr. Eco was a hit.

Edwards wanted to expand his environmental message to reach children so first approached the Clovis School District in his hometown of Fresno and then other schools across California. Mr. Eco uses rapping and dancing to engage kids and educate them about the environment; he calls it ‘edutainment.’ Since 2012, Mr. Eco has visited 90 schools and performed for over 40,000 kids.

Over the past several years, Mr. Eco has released an album “Hybrid Hip-Hop” and several music videos. He teamed up the San Luis Obispo County Air Pollution Control District on a music video “When We Commute” to encourage carpooling and using alternative transportation. Mr. Eco has participated in environmental events, been in the news, and garnered several sponsors.

If I had kids at home, I would ask Mr. Eco to visit their school.

Climate Superheroes

In our society, celebrities are often our role models. We look up to actors, musicians, professional athletes, and others who catch the public’s interest. We copy their hairstyles, clothes, electronic gadgets, follow what they do, and we like what they like.

We can debate whether these celebrities should be our role models or not, but I doubt anyone would disagree that they receive an enormous amount of attention from the press and a large slice of the social media bandwidth.

I look forward to the day when:

  • A famous actress is seen wearing the same dress to multiple red carpet events and becomes a trendsetter.
  • A legendary NFL player is ‘caught’ by the paparazzi riding a bicycle to the grocery market.
  • Every musician and singer guzzles water from a reusable water bottle while on stage.
  • A well-known actor posts photos of his rooftop solar panel installation on social media instead of selfies.
  • Mr. Eco and others like him are the celebrities that we look up to and want to emulate.

We need more climate superheroes like Mr. Eco and superhero-in-training Lucas.

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March For Real Climate Leadership – Don’t Frack California

8,000 Californians came together in Oakland, CA on Saturday to exercise our First Amendment rights and demand a clean renewable energy future for California.

March For Real Climate Leadership in Oakland, CA - February 7, 2015 - Photo: Greenpeace USA via Twitter
March For Real Climate Leadership in Oakland, CA – February 7, 2015

After peaceably assembling at Frank Ogawa/Oscar Grant Plaza, we walked about two miles to the Lake Merritt Amphitheater carrying signs, posters, and flags while exercising our freedom of speech by shouting anti-fracking slogans, playing music, singing, talking to the press, and chatting with our fellow demonstrators. We reassembled peaceably at the amphitheater, enjoyed a brief rain shower, and listened to speakers from across the state talk about how fracking is affecting their communities right now.

People Gathering before March For Real Climate Leadership - February 7, 2015
People Gathering before March For Real Climate Leadership – February 7, 2015

We peaceably dispersed, some boarding buses to head for home, some going in search of food, and others attending the convergence at Laney College to talk more in-depth about organizing campaigns to ban fracking locally, regionally, and statewide.

I was heartened to see the diversity of people participating in the march, people of all ages, skin hues, occupations, and religious beliefs, united by the desire to end fracking in California and ensure everyone has clean water to drink and clean air to breathe.

The photo below captured two of my favorite signs, “Caution Children Still Alive, Go Renewable” and “Water-Drinkers Against Fracking.”

People Carrying Signs and Posters during March For Real Climate Leadership - February 7, 2015
People Carrying Signs and Posters during March For Real Climate Leadership – February 7, 2015

The March For Real Climate Leadership was reported to have been the largest anti-fracking demonstration in U.S. history…so far.

March For Real Climate Leadership – San Luis Obispo County Contingent

One of the most surprising things about the event was that I was actually there. I am perhaps one of the shyest people in San Luis Obispo County, not fond of crowds, and am definitely not a morning person eager to jump out of bed a 4:30 a.m. The word activist does not describe me.

However, I am passionate about doing whatever it takes to ensure my children and everyone else’s children have a habitable planet to live on in the future. This means undertaking activities outside my comfort zone like composting (I do not like creepy crawlies) and participating in public demonstrations.

When an email from 350.org hit my inbox with a notice about the March For Real Climate Leadership I thought, “Maybe we should go.” My spouse agreed, immediately signed us up, and then volunteered to bring coffee and pastries for the bus ride to Oakland.

San Luis Obispo County Contingent at March For Real Climate Leadership - February 7, 2015
San Luis Obispo County Contingent at March For Real Climate Leadership – February 7, 2015

SLO Clean Water Action spearheaded organizing a bus for the San Luis Obispo County contingent aided by several other energetic people. It was pouring rain in San Luis Obispo when the bus pulled out at 6:30 a.m. We picked up a few more people in Atascadero and headed to Oakland with about 40 people on board, including many college students and a young boy who had been inspired by Mr. Eco visiting his school.

After a trip of about 4 hours, we arrived in Oakland and were greeted by an enthusiastic volunteer who gave us the logistics run down. We took a group photo and scattered to watch the pre-march press conference and other activities.

As I was wishing I had made a sign to bring, a young woman walked by and pointed across the plaza to a collection of signs made by a group of artistic volunteers. We walked over and I selected a sign mounted on a wooden pole that I thought I could carry for several hours. Hefting the sign and waving it about made me feel like an activist and I ended up bringing the sign home on the bus to display in our yard.

We met a delightful woman on the bus and the three us spent the day together carrying our signs and chanting anti-fracking slogans during the march, searching out a Cambodian restaurant for a delicious afternoon meal, and looking in on the convergence. We made it to the rendezvous point on time, boarded the bus, and headed for San Luis Obispo about 6:00 p.m.

My spouse and I arrived home tired but happy at about 11:00 p.m. with three leftover bananas, a few extra granola bars, and a souvenir sign.

It was an exhilarating and exhausting day.

See you next time.

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