Blue Line March

“Blue Line March” Marks Sea-Level-Rise Shoreline in Downtown Olympia


Saturday, October 24, 2009 (International Day of Climate Change) 

Olympia’s city government has focused attention on the local effects of climate change, including the predicted Sea-Level Rise that would inundate downtown. Olympia Climate Action and other community groups are holding a “Blue Line March” to trace Olympia’s future downtown shoreline, on Saturday, October 24th, an international day of awareness around the climate crisis.

The Blue Line March will start at Farmer’s Market at 1:00 pm, walk down Marine Drive, and then zigzag through downtown streets (past the old and new City Halls), pausing to paint Blue Lines in chalk where they have been marked out in advance with signs. The mobile public artwork project, will end at the 4th-Street Bridge around 2:30 pm.

We’ll be joined for part of the route by the Artesian Rumble brass band ! Marchers will also be carrying some of the Procession of the Species blue wind socks, fish, and a mylar “whirlpool.”

Organizers envision a festive atmosphere in the march along the city’s future “beachfront,” with participants asked to dress in blue clothing, carry blue umbrellas, and fly large blue flags or batiks. Marchers who attend this peaceful, family-friendly event could wear blue bathing caps, goggles, swim suits, boots, snorkels, and costumes, and carry beach balls, pails, flotation devices, and mock sea creatures. Children are welcome, especially if they bring blue chalk or blue ribbon.

Olympia Climate Action Chair Barb Scavezze says, “The Blue Line March will dramatize the possible effects of the climate crisis on our city, but more importantly inspire our community into doing something about it. Knowledge of global climate change can leave people feeling fatalistic or powerless, and less inclined to take positive steps towards solving the problem. Through a creative and celebratory event we hope to energize and empower citizens to get involved locally. We also want people to call their Senators and President Obama right now, and demand they pass a comprehensive climate and clean energy bill, and to negotiate a strong global climate change agreement when world leaders meet in Copenhagen in December.”

In coastal cities around the country, public artists are joining with climate action groups to mark a “light blue line” on city streets to delineate future shorelines resulting from sea-level rise. Citizens in New York, Washington, Honolulu, Santa Barbara, Santa Monica, Ventura (Calif.), and Portland (Maine), are creating their Light Blue Lines at a 7-meter (23-foot) elevation, documented at .

Olympia’s Blue Line March will use the map issued by the Olympia city government that overlays a similar tidal elevation, 22 feet, on downtown. This figure reflects a moderate sea-level rise of only 4 feet, over current 18-foot extreme high tides. Olympia Climate Action board member Jack Zeiger says, “Scientists agree that even this moderate sea-level rise will result in very destructive coastal flooding. The area indicated on the Olympia map is a conservative estimate, not taking into account the possibility of a storm coinciding with a high tide, which would make matters much worse. It includes much of the capital city’s prime real estate and many businesses–properties that will be lost unless society successfully curbs carbon emissions.”

Zoltan Grossman, a Blue Line March organizer and geography professor at The Evergreen State College, says, “With media and government finally paying attention to the climate crisis, climate change is quickly becoming an institutional concern. Yet much of the public assumes that government officials or industry will somehow take care of the problem. Throughout history, a well-informed public able to organize to support local solutions and pressure policy makers has been the most important force driving needed change. We need dramatic and visible public statements to bring this about.”

The October 24 event will coincide with “350: A Planetary Day of Action.” People around the nation and world will be responding to the climate crisis, by focusing on 350 pm (parts per million)–the safe upper limit for atmospheric carbon dioxide. Hundreds of events are being held to rally citizens around solutions before the December meeting of the United Nations climate change conference in Copenhagen. A “Bike and Walk for Climate Change” will be held at 10 am-12 noon along the Chehalis Western Trail, converging from all directions to Bush Park in Lacey for a program that starts at 11:20 am, featuring County Commissioner Sandra Romero.

Route from Farmer’s Market:

Left (E) on Market, Right (S) on Marine Drive, Right (S) on Plum, Right (W) on State, Left (S) on Cherry, ]Left (E) on 5th (past new City Hall), Right (S) on Plum, Right (W) on 8th, Right (NW) on Jefferson (becomes Adams), Left (W) on 5th, Left (S) on Capitol, Right (W) on Legion, Right (N) on Water, Left (W) on 5th, Right (N) on Simmons, Left (W) on 4th, End at 4th Street Bridge 


Blue Line March poster

See photos on Flickr from

More photos on Flickr by Laura Killian

Blog and photos by Janine Gates

Climate change parody of “The Olympiun”

Olympia Climate Action

About Olympia Climate Action

Light Blue Line

350: International Day of Climate Action

Transition Olympia

Pacific Northwest Sea-Level Rise Report (National Wildlife Foundation)

Sea Level Rise in the Coastal Waters of Washington State (UW Climate Impacts Group)

California Coastal Erosion Response to Sea Level Rise (Pacific Institute)

Conduct a Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment (includes maps)

The Independent on new 1.5-meter sea-level rise projections

New Scientist on new 1.5-meter sea-level rise projections

Bike and Walk for Climate Change

Climate Change ­ Olympia is Concerned

City of Olympia’s Sea-Level Rise Map

Sea-Level Rise Map with Blue Line March route

Olympia photos on Flickr

Laura Killian on Flicker

Janine Gates Blog & Photos

Climate change parody of “The Olympiun