A coast-to-coast march will bring close to 50 environmental activists to Oak Park on Friday, Sept. 5.
The group, The Great March for Climate Action, arrived in Illinois on Aug. 26. For the next couple weeks they will travel eastward until they finally arrive in Chicago for the Chicago Climate March on Sept. 6.
The walk from DeKalb to Oak Park is only one leg of the group's larger 3,000-mile journey said Illinois and Indiana March Coordinator Jordan Parker during a phone interview Wednesday.
"I am responsible for the route that the marchers take [through Illinois] into Chicago all the way into Indiana," said Parker, who is also responsible for organizing the Chicago Climate March.
Parker said she spent 10 days before the marchers arrived searching both states to find suitable walking routes and stopping points.
"I tried to find the most interesting routes for the marchers that would be the most scenic, most fun and ones strategically in communities," said Parker.
One of those communities includes Oak Park.
"I'm a little biased, because I love Oak Park," said Parker. "I have done quite a lot of environmental work and there seems to be very active environmental action in Oak Park, and I thought Oak Park would be really welcoming."
Initially the group was looking for Oak Parkers to open their homes to two or more marchers for a night. But organizers decided Wednesday afternoon that the logistics of organizing home stays would be a "nightmare."
"It would just be hard to get them all back to the starting location in the morning," said Parker. "And it wouldn't be considerate to hosts. Now we're looking for a place where all the marchers can stay."
Parker added that she would also like to find someone who could plan a Friday night event for the marchers.
Krista Mikos, a member of the Green Team at Unity Temple, 875 Lake Street, said that the Oak Park church will host an event that Friday.
"We are having an event about Climate Change [with] speaker Rev. Michael Dowd," Mikos wrote in an email Wednesday evening.
The Unity event, "The Future is Calling Us to Greatness: Inspiring Science, Realistic Hope," will be 7-8:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 5.
While The Great March for Climate Action has hosted marches to bring awareness to climate change in cities before, this is its first coast-to-coast march. The cross-country journey is the brainchild of Ed Fallon, a former Iowa legislator for 14 years. He helped organize the Iowa section of the Great Peace March in 1986.
March participants left Los Angeles on March 1. While people can leave and join the group as it makes its way across the country, a dedicated group has walked about 16 miles a day for the last six months.
Parker, who has worked with the Climate Reality Project, said she hopes the march gains more steam as it reaches its final destination — Washington, D.C.
Whiting, Indiana, the location of the BP refinery, will be the group's next stop after Chicago.
There was a fire at the refinery Wednesday, Aug. 27 due to an "operational incident," said a BP spokesperson. The fire that started around 9 p.m. was extinguished by 11 p.m. and the area received and "all clear" about 20 minutes later.
More on this story to come.