Charleston’s Climate Strike

An Inside Look

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Charleston’s Climate Strike

On Friday,September 20th, over 300 students and parents joined together on the College of Charleston campus to protest a lack of political and economic action on climate change. This protest is a part of a larger global movement of similar protests that took place in cities across the world. Greta Thunberg, a 16 year old from Sweden, is the main proponent of these demonstrations. This growth is huge for the young activist. Just last year, she protested alone outside of the Swedish parliament. Merely 13 months later, her movement is boasting 2,500 events in over 130 countries.

I spoke with an organizer of the event to find out why they chose to be involved and how their experience was. For private reasons, they asked to not be named.

 

Did you have an experience in activism or environmental activism prior to this strike? 

“Yes, I’ve always been very politically involved, it’s just the way my parents raised me. I took major efforts in organizing the March For Our Lives [a gun rights protest] after the Parkland shooting last year… While I’ve only participated in one environmental strike before this, I still see myself as an environmental activist. I’m extremely involved in my school’s environmental club and frequently write to my representatives and make social media posts on various environmental issues.”

 

How did you hear first about the strike? What about other attendees?

“I first heard about the strike a few months ago from a friend and fellow activist who saw something on social media. I think that most people first heard about the strikes on social media. While I’m sure word of mouth was a big part of it, social media was the main focus… it’s also how we got the majority of our information and details to the public… social media is such a huge advantage to events like this, it enables us to spread word faster and wider and really just makes everything so much easier”

 

In your opinion, what was the biggest push for people to come? 

“For me personally, it was just that simple love for the environment and activism. I think a lot of people would agree with that… I also think that this strike was relatively easy for people who aren’t consistently involved to attend. You get a lot more people at big events like this where it’s just a strike and march and speakers than you would at a smaller event that’s only the usuals.”

 

Did your school give you any trouble for missing classes on Friday? 

“I had some, but definitely not as much as other students did. My administration is pretty strict with absences but they agreed to mark it as excused because of my leadership in the event. I’m pretty sure they did the same for everyone else who asked but didn’t advertise the opportunity so kids would skip… I wouldn’t be surprised if kids got punished for missing though, some administrations aren’t very forgiving with that kind of stuff”

 

Can you tell me about the event itself?

“The strike was pretty straightforward. Everyone gathered at around 2:00, there were tons of signs and t-shirts, important people spoke, lots of chants, lots of love and hugs and all that… But even though it was simple and straightforward doesn’t take away from its meaning at all. I think it was still very impactful for everyone who wast there. Just being there was a very meaningful experience”

 

Many people believe that the younger generations- kids that are in high school and college right now- have a low level of civic engagement compared to the older generations at their age. Do you agree with this?

“Absolutely not. I think obviously the protests of the civil rights movement were much greater in number and attendance but this isn’t really something you can compare. Those issues were important then and these issues are important now. Its all relative. I do think that events like the climate strike have a big impact on the youth and their level of civic engagement… it just get people involved, it gets them to care more… and that shows at events and more importantly the polls.”

 

Any comments on Greta Thunberg? 

“Hero. Literal hero. God I love her. She’s 16, on the spectrum, hated by many world leaders and continues to work hard to see what she believes in become a reality. She is amazing… I think she is exactly what this climate change movement needs: a young, brave face… And her speech at the UN was spot on. Her tone was tough, but it was necessary. People need to realize that it’s our future world they are [messing] up and that it is not okay at all.”

 

Through this interview, many details became clearer about the inner workings of the event and the inspiration behind it. No matter what you climate change we can all agree on one thing: activism like this is great to see.

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