Parisians placed 11,000 pairs of shoes in The Place de la République to silently protest inaction in the face of a warming planet.
After the Paris terrorist attacks on November 13th, the French government cancelled demonstrations in the city for security reasons.
Unable to rally in the streets, climate-change protestors found another way to make their will known: with their shoes.
Among the many represented was Pope Francis, who added a pair of shoes bearing his name and the inscription Laudato Si (“Praised be”).
According to Emma Ruby-Sachs, deputy director of Avaaz, a global organizing movement that began the shoe collection, the “Marching Shoes” installation was meant to show the commitment of French people on climate issues.
The collection represented “a collection of millions of steps marching toward the same direction.”
Some of the pairs were decorated with flowers, and others wore messages such as “Stop to ecocide” and, “If we have to fight for something, let’s fight for climate.”
The shoes represent an appropriate symbol of sustainable development, noted Françoise Ploquin.
“People should walk more, take the car less,“ Ploquin stated. “We’d stop the global warming much more quickly and efficiently.”
United Nations Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon also contributed a pair, with the message “As the world gathers in Paris to stand up for climate action, let us also stand in the shoes of all the victims of terrorism, war and persecution,” written on a piece of paper.
Other recognizable names include Laurence Tubiana, France’s main representative at the climate talks, designer Vivienne Westwood, and actress Marion Cotillard.
Not only did the thousands of ‘marching’ shoes draw worldwide attention to an important issue, all serviceable pairs were donated to local charities afterward.
What a creative – and safe – way to draw attention to an issue that matters.
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