New Paltz welcomes pipeline protesting perambulators

Buddhist nun Jun Yasuda (holding No Pilgrim Oil Pipelines sign) and Water Walk for Life participant Megan Kylee McLean (smiling, holding drum on left) enjoy the feisty welcome New Paltz rolled out for the Walk on Wednesday, July 26.

Heralded by a bright orange safety flag, a tall purple Japanese banner and a light blue “Water Walk for Life” banner, a dozen walkers led by Buddhist nun Jun Yasuda entered New Paltz on day five of their 170-mile, 13-day walk. On Wednesday, July 26, the walkers, carrying drums and “Stop Pilgrim Pipelines” signs, walked 12 to 13 miles, from Walden to New Paltz, where they were greeted by New Paltz Village Mayor Tim Rogers, New Paltz Town Supervisor Neil Bettez and Rosendale Councilwoman Jen Metzger, at the Friends (Quaker) Meetinghouse.

The Water Walk for Life’s purpose is somber — to protect the Hudson River and 256 other rivers and streams, as well as 296 wetlands, from being harmed by stopping the proposed Pilgrim pipelines. But the atmosphere was festive as Amy Trompetter’s large Earth puppet and a few drums and brass instruments from the Rosendale Brass Band greeted the walkers. Jun-san, as Jun Yasuda is affectionately known, led the combined celebrants in a brief parade to Main Street and back from the Friends Meetinghouse in New Paltz. After a circle in which about 50 people had a chance to introduce themselves, a feast which had started small, with New Paltz Climate Action Coalition members providing deviled eggs and farm-fresh produce, grew into a spread including three dishes provided by Youko Yamamoto of Gomen-Kudasai restaurant.

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“The welcome greeting in New Paltz was the biggest we experienced yet on this walk, and the most festive,” said Water Walk for Life participant Jim Suriano. “It gave the walkers a boost as we finished day five and began our walk to Kingston, a 15-mile walk, on July 27.” All three elected leaders spoke at the potluck, where, as Supervisor Bettez said, “it’s people like you working for clean water that reminds us all what’s most important.” Mayor Rogers mentioned his work urging the New York State Comptroller to divest from fossil fuel investments, including Ares, the financial backer of the Pilgrim pipelines. And Mayor Rogers led the walk out of New Paltz ceremonially at 8 a.m. Thursday morning, trundling his bicycle alongside.

The Water Walk for Life arrived in Albany on day 12, Wednesday August 2 after walking from Bethlehem. In Albany, they stayed with the Unitarian Universalist Society at 405 Washington Avenue. Day 13, the final day’s walk, took them from Albany to Troy, where they stayed at 36 Cole Lane. On August 4, they will work at Grafton Peace Pagoda to prepare for the Hiroshima Day Ceremony at Grafton Peace Pagoda on August 5.

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