Rubbing sleep from our eyes at dawn, we dragged ourselves out of bed and strapped on our helmets, arming ourselves with annotated printed maps and a plethora of granola bars. We were ready to take on the first day of canvassing. We split into two groups; one crew with Iona, Kevin and I, and the other with Chalk and Fred. The latter group had a bit more ambition and biked a full 16 miles to Reese while we biked around half the distance to Munger in order to reach out the community that lived along Line 5.
Our hands full of stickers, pamphlets, and petitions, we eagerly awaited on each stoop to spread the message about Bike the Line. After some unanswered doors, at the third house we met a man who didn’t know the pipeline ran directly next to his property that listened intently to us and commented, that you never could trust companies to do what they say when they are motivated just by money. He took a couple stickers and asked us extensively about the risks of a pipeline and our journey to shut it down. Each supporter built our confidence, and we approached each new house with vigor. The vast majority of people we talked with were not only interested but immediately wanted to know what they could do to contribute. A wonderful lady affirmed that although Enbridge kept in contact with her household regularly, she thought the vulnerability of a pipeline directly under the Straits was far too much of a risk for the precious Great Lakes. After enthusiastically signing our petition, she sent us off with some freshly made salsa, BBQ chips, carrots, and ice-water. There were, of course, a few people that did not feel too fond of strangers showing up at their lawn and told us we should be doing something better with our time—but the receptiveness and support from so many community members showed far outweighed the few negative responses. House after house shared our same concerns for a potential leak in the Straits to destroy thousands of livelihoods in Michigan.
We stopped for a couple minutes when Kevin spotted some Lamb’s Quarter, a relative of spinach, growing alongside the road. We picked it for our daily greens before stopping at our last home for the day. The last man we met was quite familiar with Enbridge’s spotty safety record because his sister-in-law previously worked as the head of the clean-up for the Kalamazoo River spill. She subsequently quit in utter distaste of the company’s half-hearted efforts to mop up the million gallons of oil spilled–and now works for the Environmental Protection Agency.
Heartened by the last supporter, we headed back to town to slice up watermelon for our afternoon press event. Our generous hosts, Lauren and Patrick, warmly greeted us back home and had already prepared a feast of spinach salad and bean dip. We packed their car up and headed together to Winona Park for our afternoon press event. Once we arrived, a table was already chock-full of desserts (including a vegan apple cake!) set up by the Bernie supporters that were helping us organize the event to reach a higher turnout. The press arrived as people mingled around, talking politics, bikes, and oil spills. Each of us participating in Bike the Line stood up to explain what our goals and motivations were for Bike the Line, and why we felt so invested in the project. We all shared the common thread of feeling the need for another avenue outside electoral politics to enact the change we need in the world. People generously dropped their cash in the helmet we laid out on our info table for our food costs, and the Lone Tree Council, the organization our hosts were a part of, spontaneously decided to donate $150 to our cause! We left feeling invigorated by others’ support and filled with immense gratitude for all of the people that make this trip possible for us to continue. Onward towards the Straits!