Pacing the Planet -- Update

We had a surprisingly effective and enjoyable walk today (we being: Dana, Gavain, and Tillwyn), weaving our carts in and out of traffic around the town of Kirksville, MO. Kirksville is 25 miles from our house, and is the nearest city with a population greater than 10,000 people. We brought the cart and wagon in by truck today (I'll explain why in just a bit), and paced around the town square, and over to the local super-market, about 1.5 miles away.

We did a bit of shopping in the grocery store, and for the occasion, we strapped a dry-erase board to the front of our cart, which read: "Do you know that a climate catastrophe is underway? Talk to us!" Mostly, for our troubles, we received a bunch of frowns, and some dirty looks, but one kind man did stop us in the parking lot, ask us where we were planning to pace, and wondered if we had yet received any media attention.

Afterwards, we walked our wagon and cart back the 1.5 miles to the square, where we encountered the homecoming parade for the Kirksville school system, just as it was warming up. Two marching bands, majorettes, a fire truck, floats with football players and prehistoric reunions, not to mention cameos by the Adair County Republican and Democratic election committees. We found a suitable spot by the sidelines, where our carts nonetheless drew considerable attention, and we had several valuable conversations about the climate.

At the end, we requested help loading our wagon and cart into the truck from some high schoolers who are volunteering for the Democratic candidate for State Representative of District 3 in Missouri. Dana had a chance to talk just a bit with the candidate herself, Rebecca McClanahan, and share with her about Pacing the Planet, and our concern with global warming. Ms. McClanahan was appreciative and supportive of our project.

We have modified our strategy this fall, so that we will be bringing our carts to special locations in our (soon-to-be) vegetable oil powered pickup truck, and then pace locally at those spots. Part of the reason for the change is that Dana is experiencing some health challenges that have been sapping her energy recently, and we need to take care of her. We also are valuing the practice for a more extensive endeavor in the spring.

Thirdly, we are evaluating our progress working with Jemma and Sasha, the donkeys; we believe that, with some more time for training, we can feel more confident in our relationship with them, and we believe we can train them to walk faster with us. (It is also possible that we will decide that the donkeys require more care and logistical support than they are worth to the project for the help they provide, but we haven't reached that conclusion, yet).

Last, we have so far found that, particularly since we are traveling with children, we have needed the help of a vehicle to ferry us supplies at the end of the day. If this is to be an implicit part of Pacing the Planet, we want to do it responsibly, by using our truck that can run on vegetable oil we reclaim from our local restaurants, and we need a driver (or drivers) who would be committed to the project, as well.

On Wednesday, Dana and I presented at Truman State University, in Kirksville -- our first college campus talk, with many more to follow, hopefully. I gave a revised version of the presentation I have previously delivered in Edina and at the Possibility Alliance, with more useful information on the basic mechanics of global warming, so that audience members will be able to explain it to others (as well as solid reasons and evidence why the leading "theories" of climate-change contrarians cannot explain the data). I also shared a detailed action plan of what we need to do, as citizens, to save our planet.

That was followed by an exercise called "What Brings You Joy," which helps people identify what they are passionate about and where their gratitude for living really resides. We concluded with a discussion, and Dana read her essay from this blog, entitled "Because I Want to Be a Granny."

There were tears in the eyes of a few participants, and genuine discussion. Although there are several ways we can improve the seminar, it seems that what we did share this time was well-appreciated, and about 20 college students (not all science majors, by the way) left with a focused awareness of the urgency of our planetary situation.

Next stop: University of Missouri, Columbia...old Mizzou!


  1. I don't know that you're ever going to make a miniature donkey walk FAST - their legs are short. But . . . I notice in your photos that you're hauling your donkeys instead of leading them. I know, when you hear the word "lead" you think "walk in front" but it doesn't work on equines. They pull back and slow down. You need to walk next to their neck and shoulder where they can see you.

    This is a BIG project for tiny donkeys! Once again, I strongly recommend you consult a trainer. Maybe the person you got the donkeys from can recommend someone?

    1. Yes, we don't know if we'll be able to trot the donkeys, or how long the donkeys will be good for trotting with a cart. We know we can train them to trot with a cart, and that they can work up stamina...we just don't know their capacity for stamina. I agree that we are not leading them properly in these pictures (though if you mean "hauling" as in pulling or dragging, that is an illusion of the photograph). When these were pictures taken, and still today, we are very much at the beginning of our relationship with these girls as well as the beginning of our personal learning curve for donkey handling. Recently, Gavain found a great free online equine-whispering book, which he and Egon (our 10 year old) read "cover-to-cover". We have started from the beginning of training with them and are focusing on what the book's author called "groundwork"<--I don't even know if that is a standard term or one specific to the author. I appreciate *very much* your feedback, as well as your willingness to voice your concerns, so that we might be able to glean from your experience.

      Due to some health concerns, mostly associated with my current pregnancy, we have scaled back our short-term vision for the project, as I suppose you have read, so that this fall and winter we'll be sticking close to home (and focusing on communicating with/training the donks--learning what the donkeys are really ready for/capable of). We will consider rehoming them if we determine that they are not up to the task, or that we aren't. For now, we've got their winter housing up, their training pen constructed, and a daily training practice with them.
      :) - donkily - Dana

  2. I was sorry to hear about your health concerns, and I hope the winter treats you well. Certainly, spending the winter training and conditioning the donkeys will be better for them and better for the project than charging out the door tomorrow.

    Ground work is a standard term, and is what your donkeys will be doing all the time, since they are too tiny to ride. And it looks like you won't be driving them (which is sensible - people are heavy, save donkeys for cargo) so once you have good communication on the ground you should be able to get right into conditioning.

    Best wishes to you and your donkey friends!


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