I like to think of myself as a decent person. I care about stuff, and try to stay informed. I sign the petitions and donate to the campaigns. I pester my MP about things that don’t affect me personally.
But when I hear the words ‘climate march this weekend’, a black wave of icy dread crashes over my soul.
It’s not that I don’t think marching a good idea – quite the opposite. I want to want to do it, and I envy the people who can dance and yell and wear novelty hats without a care in the world.
But as a card-carrying introvert, walking through the middle of a major city in broad daylight, shouting, chanting and – god forbid – lifting my arms above my head isn’t something that comes naturally.
I know I’m not alone in this. In a country where ”don’t make a scene” is practically the national motto, it’s no surprise that lots of us are conflicted about an event where the whole point is to make a scene.
I envy the people who can dance and yell and wear novelty hats without a care in the world.
But here’s the thing: marches are useful. As powerful, large-scale displays of people giving a damn, they embolden everyone who’s working to move things forward, and make life harder for those trying to hold up progress. It’s called a demonstration for a reason!
And if you go about it the right way, they can actually be fun, even for the incurably shy. These four tricks have come in useful for me, so I’m sharing them with all the Shy Types out there.
Bring friends. But choose carefully! Like a night out, the trick is to go with people who are up for doing roughly the same thing as you. That way you don’t end up being beckoned up to dance on the metaphorical bar at three in the morning.
Bring a sign. Not keen on chanting? Say it with paint! Bringing a homemade sign gives you something to do with your hands, and lets you add to the atmosphere without having to do any reluctant half-hearted shouting. If you’re stuck for a slogan, feel free to steal my failsafe formula:
[BIG RED HEART]
[CLIMATE SOLUTION OF CHOICE]
Enjoy the walk. If you’ve ever walked through your city and wondered what it’d be like without all the traffic, now’s your chance to find out. The police always close the roads for a big march, and there’s nothing quite like strolling down the middle of Park Lane in the sunshine with no cars in sight.
Enjoy the talk. It sounds weird, but one of the things I like most about marches is the conversation. Daily life doesn’t offer that many opportunities to talk about climate change in any depth, but marching gives you a few hours out of the normal routine with good people and nothing much else to do, and that can spark some really memorable conversations.
So if you do muster the courage to march , come find me and we’ll shuffle along together with our eyes lowered and our hands hidden in our sleeves. See you there!