Written by Chalk
Pertaining to a Series of Remarkably Adorable Events which Transpired on Tuesday, August 16th, 2016
Yesterday stood out as by far the single cutest day of the entire trip so far. And by that we mean cute little kids running around or otherwise engaging in magnanimous innocent human behavior rarely found amongst the teens and adults among us who’ve been broken in by the relatively dismal realities of adult society. And to be sure, it’s not that kids were so much cuter on this day than on any other… it’s that there were so many of them out and about…
My biggest sorrow is that we couldn’t capture all the innocence on camera because it would have seemed dubious for a pair of dudes on bikes with flags on them to be taking pictures of children on the street!
The picture at right doesn’t show *human* “cuteness” but it also happened to happen on the Cutest Day Yet, so here it is.
Cuteness was sighted in full earnest as we got to the Bad River Reservation in Wisconsin. There came a certain point where Line 5 crossed a community of multiple homes; it was one of the densest areas in terms of folks living near the pipeline, but not as dense as Indian River, MI or Marysville, MI. As we reached out to folks in the neighborhood, one little girl repeatedly interrupted her mother from speaking with us because she wanted to show her something she was doing close to a trampoline. As she realized her mother’s attention was taken, she wandered off and started doing her own thing.
As we rounded the corner, we noticed a traveling crowd of ~5, just wandering. One of the five was pushing a child in a stroller. They were a ways away, so we hadn’t engaged with the group just yet. As we continued to canvass, there was another home where we spoke with an adult, and in the background one little kid popped out from inside the house out of curiosity, then his little sister out of curiosity too, both just staring.
A few houses later, a boy on a bike (let’s call him “Rolling”) came up to us and engaged us in conversation. He was curious about a lot, where we were coming from, where we were going, why… At some point Rolling was interested in traveling with us:
Chalk: “You should consider getting a helmet. If you travel a great distance like we are, it would be safer.”
Rolling: “Can I go with you?”
Chalk: “Yes. But only if you get a helmet. And if your parents say you can come.”
Chalk: “…But just a fair warning, they’ll probably say you can’t.”
Rolling: “Yeah I think you’re right.”
Rolling: “What are you going to do when you get there?”
Chalk: “I may bike back, Iona’s getting on a bus. Actually, Iona won’t take his bike with him so we have to figure out what to do with it. Maybe I can bring it back here and you can have it!”
Chalk: “Actually, I’d have to ride it back like this” (Chalk shows Rolling what ghost-riding the second bike would look like) “and that wouldn’t be safe, so I probably can’t”.
Rolling continued to converse with us for a bit longer, then we proceeded door-to-door as he watched from the roadside. Soon after, the crowd of 5 came along, who all appeared to be friends of Rolling, whom Rolling helped bring over after biking off for a bit. I hadn’t realized until just then that they all were little kids, including the girl pushing a younger child on a stroller. They were very curious what a pair of bikers with flags were doing in their neighborhood, so we told them about what we were up to in simpler terms than we were used to telling. I proceeded to pass off literature to all the kids, telling them to read it if they could, and if there were words they couldn’t understand, to show their parents and ask them to explain it to them. The girl pushing the stroller told me matter-of-factly “I can’t give this to my parents right now but I can give it to them later today.” One of the kids was so young it seemed they would hardly understand what they were given. But I figured they might become sad if they perceived others getting a “gift” and them not getting one too, so I gave a pamphlet to the child anyway.
The aforementioned community was fairly decidedly opposed to the pipeline, but we did come across at least one person for pipelines in general, and passively for Line 5. We spoke with him as the evening set in, and his daughter popped out to meet us. She had a bright smile and was excited to meet visitors. Conversation went sort of like this:
Girl: Peeks out from behind father’s leg and says “HI!!”. Goes back to hide behind father’s legs.
Chalk (to the girl): “HI there!”.
Chalk (to the dad): “we’re opposed to the pipeline because it’s 63 years old and crosses through the Straits of Mackinac. It’s operated by a company with a terrible safety record.” (etc…)
Dad: “well I support pipelines…”
Girl: jumps back out from behind father’s leg and smilingly says “HI!!!”
Chalk (to the girl): “HI AGAIN!!”
Chalk (to the dad): “we’re not oblivious to the fact that we still all use oil, but no infrastructure lasts forever, yet Enbridge wants Line 5 to.”
Anyhow, by that point yesterday was definitely already the cutest day yet, but there was yet more childlike innocence we came across just before the sun set. And just after it, we got to Ashland, WI and camped on the shore of Lake Superior for our first time so far. Almost done… there are fewer than 100 homes left to reach out to.
Addendum: two days later, at sunset on Thursday August 18th, at the end of Zach’s first day of community outreach with us, the daughter of a supportive community member offered Zach some flowers. We were able to capture the moment with her parents’ consent: