Jeff Light, our National Lawyers Guild attorney, representing us pro bono, entered pleas of not guilty on our behalf and we all got dates to return one more time for final disposition. We'll have to promise not to get arrested and not to return to ERM (see my previous post) for six months, and may get a fine and/or community service hours that we can fulfill at home.
Then we had to present some mail to confirm our address and take a drug test, which involved peeing in a cup in a bathroom while a court employee watched us so we couldn't switch urine samples (how would you like that job?!). We were out by around 1 p.m., so that was a minimal part of my trip. I figured since I was going to D.C. anyway, I might as well stay a little longer and have some fun.
Jane, a D.C. resident and fellow arrestee, hosted a dinner for 20 of us the night before, where we all got caught up and also celebrated Lilly's 20th birthday. She was the young woman who locked down with us in front of the elevators at ERM. She's been "adopted" by the rest of us, who are old enough to be her mother or grandmother. She shared a beautiful letter she had written to one of her professors, thanking him for getting her interested in justice issues, including justice for the earth, and he wrote back an equally moving response. One-on-one is how effective change seems to happen most often.
After court, Jane gave me her key to the D.C. bike share, and I managed to find one near her house (most of the bikes were out at all the bike kiosks I saw, confirming that it's a very successful program). I rode with my other new friend Laura (pictured above as she helped pedal the Bullitt cargo bike along the C&O Canal trail during the Walk for Our Grandchildren) several miles down Rock Creek Parkway to Georgetown and the beginning of the C&O trail (Lock 1), which those of us who were arrested on the last day of the walk never made it to. It was a beautiful day and we felt like riding up to our stopping point 12 miles up-river, but we didn't have time. We stopped for a cold drink by a beautiful new waterfront park.
On the way back I mentioned that the air along the parkway didn't smell fresh, but kind of chemical-ly. Laura responded, "Sewage." Of course. It had rained a day or two before and then the sewage spilled out into the Creek. In fact, just before I returned the bike, we passed a big sign that said, in big letters, "SEWAGE: Do not make contact with water in Rock Creek after a rain."
Our infrastructure nationally is approaching third world conditions, and I hope I'm not insulting those "developing" countries. Laura Bilmes and Nobel Laureate in economics Joe Stiglitz wrote a book called the Three Trillion Dollar War about U.S. investment in the Iraq War, but heaven forbid we should invest a smidgen of that in fixing our roads, bridges, tunnels and water systems.
The American Society of Civil Engineers has given the U.S. an overall grade of D+ on its infrastructure for 2013. I've thought about using their report as the basis for an in-depth piece on the subject, but I go over too many bridges and through too many tunnels from New Haven to D.C. -- I think I'd rather not know how bad it is for fear of raising my anxiety level even higher.
And what does the ASCE say it will cost to fix everything by 2020? $3.6 trillion. Gee, I wonder where we could get that kind of money.