New England Yearly Meeting

A community of Quakers and Quaker meetings across New England.

Climate Change Witness


Tuesday, December 12, 2017 (All day)


U.S. District Court Building
156 Federal St
Portland , ME


Dear Friends,

For the past couple months, I have been sitting with a spiritual leading, and today I’m feeling ready to share it with you, my community.

At midnight on December 12, the second anniversary of the signing of the Paris Climate Treaty, I plan to walk a circle around the federal building in downtown Portland, the local seat of our national government.

Over the next 15 hours or so, I’ll repeat this loop 195 times, once for each country that is an active signatory of the Paris treaty. Then, around three in the afternoon, I will undertake a final lap walking in the opposite direction. Because there is one country on the planet, and only one country, going backwards on the treaty.

This will be a walking vigil. I—we, if you’d like to join me—may walk with grief and tears at times. But I imagine walking with joy and hope as well. I intend for parts of the walk to be silent, contemplative, meditative. Other times I may fill the air with conversation, song and laughter. One lap and one country at a time, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, I plan to honor the world coming together through the Paris accord, showing its resolve to address the biggest environmental challenge we have ever faced. And in the face of our home country’s abdication of responsibility, I will hold the world, our country, and ourselves, in the Light. 

We will walk through the night, into the dawn, all morning and most of the afternoon. Through sun, snow, or come what may. We will live out a vigil in the literal and figurative meaning of the word: a period of keeping awake during the time usually spent asleep, especially to keep watch or pray. It also seems fitting that the 12th is the first night of Hanukkah, a holiday celebrating a miracle of light in the dark.

If you don’t know what to do about our changing climate, but you feel that you must do something, then join me. Walk with me as you are able and as you feel led, whether for all 195 laps and 30 miles, or just for a few minutes on your lunch break.

I am not launching a major publicity and organizing effort around this vigil, as I want to keep my energy focused on the spiritual aspects. I am actively exploring whether this vigil will be a precursor to a similar but much larger, more public event, perhaps some time in the spring. For now, I am inviting you, my friends and family and my immediate spiritual community of Portland Friends Meeting to accompany me and/or to hold me in the Light.

I also invite you to pass this invitation on to anyone who, like me, is feeling overwhelmed about climate change. To anyone who feels paralyzed and lost at times, but who yearns to do something, even if it is daft and quixotic, such as walking in circles for 30 miles through the darkest and coldest time of year. That is to say, if this message has found you, then I trust it is for the right reasons and I welcome you to join me on this particular journey at this particular moment in time.

What will this walking vigil accomplish? I have no idea, and maybe nothing at all. But I feel led to do it, as an experiment in truth, and that’s reason enough for now. Solvitur ambulando.
If you are interested in taking part, please let me know and I will fill you in on details in the week or so leading up to the vigil. [See Additional Details, below.]

Yours in Spirit,
Rob Levin

Contact Information

Rob Levin
(207) 774-8026

New England Yearly Meeting of Friends

901 Pleasant Street, Worcester, MA 01602

(508) 754-6760 - [email protected]