Benicia Herald: May 17 Healing Walk – wide coalition of sponsors

Repost from The Benicia Herald

Groups plan ‘healing walk’; call for end to crude by rail

May 15, 2014 by Donna Beth Weilenman

A “healing walk” organized by several area environmental groups is expected to attract participants who will carry banners Saturday as they walk from Martinez to Benicia to the sounds of Native-American drumming and prayers, said Roger Straw, a member of one of the groups, Benicians for a Safe and Healthy Community.

 A HEALING WALK will be held from  Martinez to Benicia on Saturday. Courtesy photo
A HEALING WALK will be held from Martinez to Benicia on Saturday.  Courtesy photo

The event will begin with a prayer and a rally with speakers from Martinez Environmental Group and Idle No More. More prayers will be said near the Shell Refinery in Martinez and later near the Valero Benicia Refinery.

As participants cross the Benicia-Martinez bridge, engaging in prayer and conversation, a flotilla of canoes and kayaks are expected to be on the Carquinez Strait below, Straw said. Depending on weather, the boats may travel from Martinez to Benicia’s Alvarez Ninth Street Park for concluding activities.

Walkers will stop at Vista Point for prayer and educational talks, then continue toward the Benicia First Street waterfront by way of the city’s ballfields on East H Street, where restrooms are available.

The next stop on the way to the waterfront will be at the corner of East B and First streets, where parking and restrooms are available and food and beverages will be available for purchase.

Walkers will then proceed to Alvarez Ninth Street Park, where they will hear speakers at a concluding rally and can express their thoughts on pieces of muslin that later will be sewn into a quilt and displayed.

Support vehicles will accompany the walkers to give them an opportunity to rest, but lunch will not be provided, Straw said. Water will be available for those who bring refillable water bottles.

Straw said the walk is backed by the Sierra Club, Martinez Environmental Group, Benicians for a Safe and Healthy Community, Crockett-Rodeo United to Defend the Environment, Sunflower Alliance, Asian Pacific Environmental Network, Communities for a Better Environment, The Global Monitor, CREDO Action, Greenpeace, 350.org, the Center for Biological Diversity and other organizations.

Pennie Opal Plant, spokesperson for Refinery Corridor Healing Walks, said this is the second in a series of four San Francisco Bay Area “Connect the Dots: Refinery Corridor Healing Walks” to bring attention to the Keystone Pipeline System in Canada and the United States and its fourth phase of construction, as well as concerns about living near refineries and what Plant called “a just transition to clean energy.”

“This walk is in conjunction with the May 17 Day of Action against Dirty Fuels, to ask the president and local officials to reject the Keystone XL pipeline and other dirty fuel projects that threaten our communities and destabilize our climate,” she said.

“The Refinery Corridor Healing Walk will be one of hundreds of synchronized events with Hands Across the Sand/Land and other partners to raise awareness about the dangers of dirty fuels and the need to speed the transition to available, affordable clean energy solutions,” she said.

Plant said the actions are in response to the State Department’s announcement that it would extend its review of the Keystone pipeline.

The first walk was April 12, when participants walked from Pittsburg Marina Park to Martinez Waterfront Park.

The timing was near that of the “Reject and Protect” encampment on the National Mall in Washington from April 22-27, when farmers, ranchers and members of various Native-American organizations spent the week speaking out against the Keystone pipeline and tar sands crude.

The starting point was chosen because Pittsburg is a proposed site for an oil terminal that would bring up to 100 rail cars of crude daily for distribution. Martinez has two refineries, Shell and Tesoro.

Plant said “Connect the Dots” walks will take place monthly for four months. There is no charge to participate but walkers are asked to donate at least $5 to defer costs, and additional contributions will be accepted, she said.

This second walk will start at 8:15 a.m. Saturday with a prayer for water and a rally at Martinez Waterfront Park at Court Street at the north end of Ferry Street, Martinez, and will conclude with another rally at the end of the walk at the Alvarez Ninth Street Park.

Future walks will go from Benicia to Rodeo June 14, and from Rodeo to Richmond July 12.

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