Facebook is an interesting tool. It allows me to follow the doings of my friends on both sides of the planet. For instance, I can visit with my Canadian friends over breakfast, simultaneously visiting with my Jakartan friends as they eat dinner. The twelve hour difference hardly matters: we are connected in real time, regardless of the time on the clock face.
Tonight on Facebook, I received an invitation to a Greenpeace event in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Forgive me being a sentimental old woman, but I wept when I got this invitation. I wept, because I’m directly involved with exactly the same event here, in Toronto, Canada. On September 14, two cities—on opposite ends of the planet, each of them dear dear dear to my heart—are going to get on a bicycle for a cause they believe in.
The event is called the Ice Ride, a critical mass-style cycling event, intended to bring attention to the shocking damage about to be inflicted on the Arctic by oil companies.
The Greenpeace organizers asked if I would blog about my reasons for being involved. I don‘t write well, on demand. And the reasons are obvious, aren‘t they. I hardly need to spell them out. If you follow climate change, global warming, the by-now irrefutable scientific data, you know why I ride.
And then I got the Jakartan invitation. ‘Kawasan Kota Tua Jakarta‘ it read simply, an invitation to meet in the old city district, in Jakarta.
Why would Jakarta care about the Arctic? I know one obvious reason why I might care—the Arctic is painfully close to me. My province borders on the Northwest Territories, home to some of the Arctic. Geographically, the Arctic is next door. But why would Jakartans, who live on the other side of the planet, care? They care because it‘s a ripple effect. Whatever happens in the Arctic is going to have severe and permanent effects everywhere on the planet.
I know this, partly because I work with the organization Our Horizon. According to the statistics on which Our Horizon is based, planet earth has about fourteen years left—probably less—before we hit that critical temperature ceiling at which everything shifts permanently, and nothing we do then will have the least impact. Our earth, which includes both Toronto and Jakarta. Unless we do something now, our earth will be lost forever.
Sorry to sound dramatic. Let’s explain my reasons for joining the Ice Ride in more pedestrian terms.
When I lived in Jakarta, I fell in love. With my ojek driver, Dian. With Mona Lisa (real name!) my landlady. With my students, Caulina and Norma, with Retno and Ady and Agung, Citra and Nisar and Dephir, Asky, Ayu, Ririn and and so many more.
With other bules, like Matt and Anelly, Kelly, Teodora and Anna. With the thousands of Indonesians who are infatuated with bicycles on Carfree Sundays, like Achieles and Oom Djoko and Fasri. Just as importantly, I fell in love with Bima, the komodo dragon, and Bill and Myrna and Pip Squeak and Lucy, the street cats. All these names are worth protecting. I will join the Ice Ride, for their sakes.
Is that all, you ask? Shouldn’t that be enough? Yes, it should, but apparently it isn‘t because Greenpeace has felt obliged to organize a global event to draw attention. So, no. It’s not enough that I found something worth loving and protecting in Jakarta.
In Toronto, I‘m in love with the nearly one hundred and fifty people I interviewed for the bike project. With urban forestry people. With Rowan the weeping willow tree, in a park in downtown Toronto. With street cats, one named the Right Reverend Father Joseph (may God have mercy on his soul). With my family and friends across the continent. For the sake of these names also, I will join the Ice Ride.
With an Icelandic pony named Rektor. With Icelanders. With Germans, and Jamaicans and Mexicans and … on it goes. I have friends everywhere.
Yes, I‘ve travelled. That sort of travel does damage to the earth, so I don‘t do it without forethought. I try to tread lightly, but sometimes it can’t be helped. To offset some of my travel damage, my everyday mode of transportation is a bicycle. I ride a bicycle to get around Toronto, around Jakarta, and soon, around Algonquin Park and St. John‘s, Newfoundland, too.
In Jakarta, I wanted to have another impact. I wanted Indonesians to see that many white people ride bicycles, that cars aren‘t the only mode of transportation embraced by first world countries. The front wheel of my bicycle bore a hand-written sign:
We can all ride a bicycle for transportation. I ride in Jakarta.
On September 14, I want my bicycle in Toronto to bear a new sign:
Saya naik demi bumi. I ride a bicycle for the earth.
Toronto invited me to the Ice Ride. Jakarta also invited me to the Ice Ride. Jakarta cares about the earth, and about me, just as Toronto does.
I ride, because I am loved. Because I have loved and continue to love.