A carpool load of 8- or 9-year-olds rolls by me every weekday morning as I stand out in front of the L.L.Bean corporate offices. I imagine they are on their way to the Mast Landing School here in Freeport. The first few mornings they went by, the vehicle’s passenger side windows, both front and rear, would be rolled down and the children inside would be reaching out, waving and smiling enthusiastically.

For the last several weeks, in addition to the waves and smiles, the children hold out signs, handwritten in crayon that say “Protect Earth” in reflection of the banner I am holding that says “Protect Mother Earth.” Thoughts of these children’s future are what keep me standing out there, these children’s future and their generation’s future.

When these children arrive at school I imagine that they talk with their fellow classmates and their teachers about this guy with the banner and sign standing out in front of the L.L.Bean offices. The banner “Protect Mother Earth” they can understand. Who would not want to protect the earth? But the sign “Bean bucks help finance climate chaos” is difficult, if not impossible, for them to understand. Their teachers are in a difficult, if not impossible, situation, in trying to explain to their students the dimensions of the climate crisis without leaving them with feelings of hopelessness and despair.

We adults are the ones, in theory, who have the agency to effect change. More than any one adult, L.L.Bean and other corporations have far greater leverage to effect change. L.L.Bean is currently associated with Citibank, a bank that continues to finance new fossil fuel infrastructure to the tune of $342 billion since the 2016 Paris Climate Accord. L.L.Bean could use its well-earned reputation of being a good steward of the environment to enlist other large retailers such as Costco who together could encourage Citibank to clean up their act. The children of Freeport deserve nothing less.

William Rixon

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