Sunday, March 4, 2012

Day 3 of the 99 Mile March

Saturday -- the third day of the “The 99 Mile March for Education and Social Justice” -- was a relatively low-key day. We started late with the walking, which gave us some time in the morning to have our second General Assembly of the trip. At the GA we talked about decision-making and logistical issues concerning the march. We also had an extended discussion about one of the marcher's flags, which was an upside-down American flag. Ultimately the group came to consensus to ask him to tape the slogan “Education in Distress” onto the flag, because the upside-down flag is a code for distress.

We then gathered at Solano Community College and had our conversation with some students who had provided us with lunch. We went around and everyone explained why they were marching and what had inspired them to be involved. Some of the students from Solano Community College talked about how cuts to classes have turned what were four or five year plans for graduation into seven or eight year plans for education. Other people talked about the debt loads they were taking out or paying off. Others talked about marching for their younger siblings or marching for currently undocumented students. It struck me how the ground of the march was being articulated and also stretched insofar as many of the reasons why people were participating pointed toward broader social conditions and political struggles than public education narrowly understood.

For most of the day we marched on freeways or trails that cut between people's back yards or that were adjacent to the highway. Our view was often blocked by fences and sometimes people would wave or call out to us from their rear windows or porches. We ended up walking for a number of hours after dark on access roads or trails. We ultimately arrived into Vacaville, where we were offered food and a place to stay at a local church. We were also joined by a number of Occupy Vacaville activists, one of whom marched with us for the last couple of miles, carrying a set-up tent.

We've had many curious encounters with animals at different points along the way -- particularly on our third day, since we were walking on so many parks and trails. I thought it might be interesting for me to enumerate these encounters.

A Bestiary of the 99 Mile March:

* On the second day we saw a group of four wild turkeys running along the side of the road with what looked like neckties of feathers. At one point one of the turkeys lost its way and had to chase after the group up the road. When they re-converged, everyone cheered.

* After we passed by the oil refinery on the second day, we entered into a small valley where a group of sheep were grazing on an enclosed pasture. The pasture was surrounded by single-story houses and looked barren.

* On the third day, when we were having trouble finding the trail head, a jack rabbit ran out of the forest and along a fence that had a cutaway entrance to the trail head.

* As we were marching on the third day we passed a group of cows that came over to the path and licked one of the marchers on the hand. Everyone called them "Occu-cows."

* Down the greenway a little bit there was an orange cat with scruffy fur sitting on a downed panel of the fence. She ran under the fence when we approached.

* At a couple of spots along the greenway there were massive, lightly colored, quirky bird feeder/birdhouse contraptions that had wacky, iron, painted birds affixed to them.

* At night, as we were walking down an access road, off to the right there were the sounds of frogs croaking while we could hear the sounds of highway traffic to the left.

* So far today we've entered into farmland. Just as we entered we passed by a small farm with more than two dozen peacocks that were running around the farm and jumping on the roofs of farm buildings. They were being chased by a group of cats on the farm.

Right now we're about three miles away from our lunch stop on the fourth day, paused by the side of the road with highway 80 in the distance and fields stretching in all different directions. We will continue on until we reach Davis tonight.

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