12 Bi-College students spent Saturday afternoon trekking from Haverford to the Reading Viaduct in Philadelphia as part of the People’s Pilgrimage, a global movement in which individuals participate in environment-themed walks to raise awareness of climate change.
The students left the Campus Center at 12:20 p.m. and arrived at the Viaduct just under four hours later.
Diana Schoder ‘17, an environmental studies minor, organized the walk. According to Schoder, the purpose of the walk was for “students to get involved in more global issues.”
Although Schoder noted that the walk was “not as meaningful as creating practical solutions to climate change,” the junior believes that the People’s Pilgrimage is a way to “connect us to people all around the world who are making a statement.”
The People’s Pilgrimage was started by Yeb Sano, a former Filipino climate ambassador, who is currently hiking 1500 kilometers from Rome to Paris just in time for the UN Climate Change Summit this December. The summit, one of many since the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, aims to achieve a legally binding universal agreement on climate.
Sano began the walk this year on October 1st and recently crossed the border from Italy into Switzerland. He hopes that his walk will attract the attention of world leaders, whom he asks “to have the courage, imagination and generosity to work through difficulties and bring the world to a meaningful climate agreement that makes our future safe for our children, and is powered by 100% clean energy.”
Due to illness, Schoder was unable to attend the walk, which was consequently lead by Anna Saum ‘18. The group encountered little difficulty until it reached Philly, at which point the directions became more complicated and the group was forced to surrender to modern technology (namely Google Maps) to guide them to the Viaduct.
Students take part in the People’s Pilgrimage
The Viaduct, which stretches 10 blocks from Callowhill Junction to Chinatown, holds the remains of a railroad constructed in the 1890s. Since the 1980s, the Viaduct has slowly become abandoned, and the former railroad is now overgrown. There are plans to turn it into an elevated park, similar to that of the High Line in New York City.
Schoder chose the Viaduct as a destination not only for the location (the nine miles being “something doable, but…somewhat challenging”), because she sees it as “a symbol of Philadelphia’s old industrial past.”
Josh Moses, Schoder’s environmental studies professor, suggested the original idea for Haverford’s contribution to the People’s Pilgrimage: a walk from Philadelphia to New York. Schoder rejected this idea, though, saying that “practically speaking, I’m not sure how many people would be able to go.”
Maybe next year?