By Amelia Tarallo
Hometown Weekly Staff
If you drove or walked by First Parish Church on Saturday, September 12, you would have been a bit thrown back by the sight. From 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., observers spotted rows and rows of shoes decorating the lawn and steps of First Parish. Though it may have been an odd sight for those passing by, the shoes did their job. The many pairs were placed there for a "shoe-in" demonstration to raise awareness of climate change. The event was sponsored by Medfield Environment Action (MEA) and First Parish Church.
Many observers going by found themselves walking between the rows, reading some of the signs in the shoes, each one written on recycled advertisements and cardboard. Signs in a pair of cowboy boots sitting on the steps urged readers to “Give fossil fuel the boot,” and “Wildfires, drought, heat wave, floods: it’s not Armageddon, it’s climate change.”
A tiny pair of shoes sitting at the informational table hit it home for New Englanders: “I want to keep Cape Cod for my future. And less sharks, and jellyfish.” At one of the front rows sat a pair of blue and black swim flippers. “Sea levels rising, I don’t want my GRANDCHILDREN wearing these to school!” was written on the flippers’ cardboard sign.
The walkway beside the shoes was decorated with signs displaying explanations and information on climate science. One sign explained climate justice and acknowledged that not everyone will feel the direct impact of the changing weather patterns, rising sea levels, and destruction of ecosystems. “What is climate justice? It begins with the idea that the adverse impacts of a warming climate are not felt equitably among people,” it read. Another sign quoted Neil deGrasse Tyson, noting: “I’m often asked whether I believe in Global Warming. Now I just reply with the question: 'Do you believe in gravity?'”
With COVID-19 going on, protesting and demonstrations have become a bit hazardous. As a result, the shoe-in served as a perfect replacement for a traditional event, with shoes representing their owners who would be standing at a demonstration, if at all possible. “The shoes stand for people who would be here if we could all gather safely and socially,” explained one of the organizers. While many events have been postponed or rescheduled, MEA sees the shoe-in as a crucial event to raise awareness. “The climate can’t wait, it’s a climate emergency.”
At the end of the event, most of the shoes were donated, keeping up with the idea to reuse and recycle items to reduce waste and to help take pressure off of the environment.
Even with the lack of in-person demonstrators, the shoe-in raised awareness and helped people learn about the ongoing climate crisis. Using information provided by MEA, visitors left with ideas on how to shrink their environmental footprint and make the world a little better.