Lore Rosenthal, a Greenbelt environmental activist, not only talks the talk about global climate change, she also walks the walk — in this case, a walk of more than 60 miles in six days to raise awareness.
Rosenthal took part in the Walk for Our Grandchildren, a 62-mile journey by foot from Harpers Ferry Hostel and Campground in Knoxville on July 21 to Lafayette Park in Washington, D.C., camping out along the way.
Rosenthal, 55, has no children or grandchildren, but said the name of the walk took on a very special meaning.
“For me, it was more metaphorical. It was about walking for the seventh generation,” she said, referring to a concept in the environmental movement that takes into consideration the effects an action will have seven generations into the future.
“We’re borrowing from the future everything we use now,” Rosenthal said. “What is the impact of our actions going to be 100 years from now? Everything is going to have a reverberating effect.”
Rosenthal, along with two friends from Howard County and one from the District, were among over 70 “through-walkers,” people who walked several days. Others, referred to as “day walkers,” walked part of the journey, usually a day.
Greg Yost of Asheville, N.C., one of the walk organizers, said this was the first year and the turnout was higher than expected, with some walkers coming from New England, California and Washington state.
“This was our first walk, but the energy and response to it was so tremendous, we are already dreaming of how to build on it for a future event,” Yost said.
Marjorie Gray, 66, of Greenbelt was one of the day walkers, joining the walk in Dickerson on July 24 and walking more than 12 miles to Riley’s Lock on the Potomac River near Darnestown.
“I never walked so far in my life. I never thought I could make it,” Gray said of her journey, adding that the time went faster talking with so many interesting people.
Gray, a member of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, a grassroots nonprofit working to combat climate change in the Washington, D.C., Virginia, and Maryland area, said she joined the walk for her grandchildren.
“I have four grandchildren and I am very concerned about their future,” Gray said, citing a number of environmental issues, such as global warming and water pollution. “Our children and grandchildren will see what we are doing and will grow up with an understanding of how important our environment is.”
Although the walk was long, Rosenthal said she was heartened by speaking with walkers from other parts of the country.
“Every couple of miles, you ended up walking next to a different person, with different concerns, different interests, different perspectives, leading into a new conversation,” Rosenthal said.
On her walk, Rosenthal also carried a letter from Micah Hughes, the 7-year-old daughter of her friend Megan Hughes, a former Greenbelt resident who now lives in North Carolina, to support and encourage Rosenthal.
“She had written that the walk was a protest and that it was about climate change, and that she is planning to write President Obama about protecting polar bears,” Megan Hughes said.
Rosenthal said she thinks the goal did well in accomplishing its goals of raising awareness of environmental issues.
“Climate change solutions will not happen overnight,” Rosenthal said. “I’ll probably be working on global climate change until the day I die.”