15 Aug In Solidarity with Charlottesville – The Joy Trip Project
On Sunday August 13, 2017 community organizers in Madison, Wisconsin gathered citizens together at the State Capitol to stand up against a climate of hate. The day before in Charlottesville, Virginia a group of white supremacists lead a march to protest the removal of a monument to the Confederate Army General Robert E. Lee. The event tragically resulted in the deaths of two Virginia State Troopers Berke M.M. Bates and H. Jay Cullen, whose helicopter crashed while providing public safety assistance when the demonstration became violent. Heather D. Heyer, a paralegal and social justice activist, was killed when an Ohio man drove his car through a crowd of counter-protesters.
These events rallied the collective conscience of Madison to come together in solidarity with Charlottesville. With less than an hour’s notice I grabbed my camera and headed downtown to capture the mood of this impromptu assembly in a series of photographs.
My life as a journalist seems often fraught with glaring contrasts. Earlier that same day I met with friends to climb Lapham Peak in Kettle Moraine State Park. At 1,233 feet above sea level it’s no mountain. The path to the summit is really more of a gentle hike along sections of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. With just my iPhone the quality of my photographs was rather limited, but the experience still impressed upon me how simple it is to find peace and solidarity of purpose through the simple act of walking.
As much as I specialize in telling stories about outdoor recreation and environmental conservation at the core of my work is a deep desire to bring people together. The Alt-Right march in Charlottesville was a misguided attempt to unite a group of disaffected caucasians in an expression of social outrage. While I respect their right to free speech and lawful assembly I draw the line at tactics that spew hatred and violent intimidation. That we must not abide. To gather peacefully in solidarity requires the good intensions of everyone involved to share their point of view and honor the thoughts and opinions of those with whom we disagree, no matter how deeply offensive or even repugnant we might find their beliefs.
To gather and walk united in a shared understanding of common purpose, in resistance to physical violence, profane rhetoric or armed conflict, are far more effective tools of social change. The death of innocents and the destruction of property are merely indications of flawed moral logic and proof of one’s failed principles.