By: Amanda Menas
During the Mother Earth Project’s ‘Parachutes for the Planet’ Exhibition at Georgetown Waterfront Park, 28 U.S. states, 30 countries, and six continents were represented. The Mother Earth Project encourages communities to create several ‘Parachutes for the Planet’ exhibitions.
With a backdrop of the Potomac River, Kallan Benson stood with butterfly wings for a cape surrounded by nearly 200 parachutes from all over the world.
The most moving for Benson were the three from the Marshall Islands. They were the first international parachutes received, with moving stories about how climate change is impacting residents.
What started as a way to educate children about environmental issues transformed into an international movement, joined by groups like the Mother Earth Project and the Citizens’ Climate Lobby.
Benson, 14, has been an environmentalist since joining others in the first People’s Climate March. She created the first parachute featuring a butterfly at 24-feet in diameter to represent the voices of children in her city during the rally. When she attended the second annual march, it had over 1,600 signatures from students in the DMV area.
When the movement joined Barton Rubenstein and his family, the founders of the Mother Earth Project, and the creator of the Mother Earth sculpture on the waterfront, conversations with schools around the world started slowly. But when Parachutes for the Planet came into being, the potential of educating youth on a mass scale by sending parachutes across the world took off.
Philip, a woman from the Maldives, an island nation in which 90 percent of the territory is ocean, discussed the recent UN climate report. “We now know we have a window of opportunity,” she said. Between calls to register to vote, and advocating to representatives to move toward renewable energy sources, the event portrayed an optimistic view of steps individuals can take to help the environment.
In introducing three Girl Scout troops from Pennsylvania, Rubenstein said, “Collectively, you are speaking to the world.” Exclusively to be part of the movement in its D.C. location, 27 Girl Scouts and family members came from Pittsburg, ranging from Daisies to Cadets, and brought their six parachutes. Each took a turn speaking about creating a recycling program and community garden at their schools.
In addition to those present in Georgetown, additional parachutes appear at a similar rally in Ottowa, Canada on October 15 by the Citizens’ Climate Lobby Canada. There are 266 parachutes around the world. The goal is to reach 400.
Many young families stopped to listen to speeches, watch performances from the Kirov Academy and One Way Out, and dance under a 100-foot parachute. Rubenstein said, “This movement to save the planet is about having a positive approach to it.” The ‘Parachutes for the Planet’ was an informative event to attend.