Climate strike organizers talk planning, involvement, and next steps
September 22, 2019
Plans have been in the works for the Sept. 20 climate strike since July, co-chair of MN Strikes Back and sophomore at Spring Lake Park high school Juwaria Jama told The Rubicon.
“We started planning for the strike in July, and planning took a lot of us partnering with a lot of different organizations, we’ve been working closely with Friends of the Earth, MN350, and a lot of these are organizations that came together to help us delegate tasks, things that we needed,” Jama said.
Using social media to spread the word was a large part of the preparation for the strike, as well as planning events to drum up awareness prior to the day of the protest.
“We did a lot of work on Instagram and our Facebook and our Twitter, and we worked with our partners to do a lot of volunteer work. We had a couple of events planned before the strike that included things like an art build, we had a workshop in July, and so we’re doing a lot of this work to educate people about the climate justice movement and what the climate crisis means, and get them involved in strikes like this and beyond,” Jama said.
At SPA, senior and recruitment captain Paige Indritz helped SPA students interested in the strike get organized by telling them what to bring and how to get there, as well as communicating with the administration about the Sept. 20 plan. She became a recruitment captain for the strike after a friend she had made at her 2018 semester away program asked her to help organize.
“A recruitment captain is someone who helps spread the word about the strike. And technically a recruitment captain is supposed to get ten other people and another recruitment captain so that that recruitment captain can get more people,” Indritz explained.
Most protesters, like Indritz, had heard about the strike from friends.
“My friend Isabelle is the co-financial director for the strike, so she’s obviously very invested in it and she really talked to me about how we’re rescuing the climate, essentially, and how important it is to our lives. And that’s how I got involved. I became my school lead for organizing the event,” junior Jacob Dereje, the school lead for Apple Valley high school, said.
Everyone has a different story of how they initially got involved. Junior Gavin Kimmel felt pressure from the increasing presence of climate change in the news, as well as from his environmentally-minded younger sister.
“I think we’ve been seeing more and more things coming up that are like, it’s a crisis and I think this is a good call to action. My sister has also been harping on my family to become more eco-friendly and sustainable and so I think continuing to do anything I can to promote the well-being of our planet,” Kimmel said.
Co-financial director and junior at Apple Valley High School Isabelle Wong was inspired by her work in politics.
“I intern with Senator Greg Clausen and Representative Erin Maye Quaide and I know [events related to climate change] are happening, so I wanted to find an outlet to promote awareness about these things and find a solution that everyone would be able to accept,” Wong said.
Wong’s family also inspired her to take action.
“In Indonesia, already, 40% of the population is being affected by the climate crisis. And since I have family there, that really concerns me. And one big thing that’s happening in Indonesia is that they are trying to figure out a way to move the capitol because Jakarta, the capitol of Indonesia, is sinking,” Wong said.
The leaders are hoping for the strike to become a pattern of action.
“One thing that I’m hoping after the strike is that people continue staying involved,” Jama said.
Kimmel hopes that people will think about the responsibility that both individuals and corporations have to be more environmentally friendly.
“I think that people need to realize two things – one is that a lot of things that are happening to our planet are because of corporations, so not to beat yourself up because you’re not being as eco-friendly as you could or should be, but also taking that step because it’s still important to take action yourself, and change things in your daily life to better the planet,” Kimmel said.
Dereje said he wishes people knew “how easy it is to go out of your comfort zone. Just try something new. Just try to do one different thing to aid the climate as a whole.”
Just try something new. Just try to do one different thing to aid the climate as a whole. — Jacob Dereje, school lead for Apple Valley High School
Just try something new. Just try to do one different thing to aid the climate as a whole.
— Jacob Dereje, school lead for Apple Valley High School
Indritz called for an open dialogue about climate change.
“What I want to have happen next is that everyone can have a conversation about the implications of climate change, what we can do to change it, and how we can promote this change within the government,” Indritz said.
Wong expressed hope for a specific change in policy.
“After today, I really hope that the Green New Deal is passed because that’s something really helpful and it just unites everyone against the climate crisis,” Wong said.
The rally in St. Paul was one of more than 3,000 planned in 120 countries. Other climate events in Minnesota included gatherings in Duluth, Bemidji, and Minneapolis.
One thing is for sure.
“This isn’t the end,” Jama said. “We’re just getting started.”