Striking in the Youth Climate Strike

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As a college sophomore who joined youth activists in striking this Friday, I found myself in a unique position. I’m not young enough to be in the category of high school strikers, who bravely gave up a day of education and threat of school punishment to march to the capitol building this past Friday. I am fortunate that as a Neighborhood Sun Intern who works on Fridays, I was encouraged to strike and given the opportunity to participate in an event that many others were unable to. Yet, I am still in the generation that has been given the enormous responsibility of fixing the course of climate change given the lack of representatives and officials who are willing to shift policies. The power of this movement is that it gives young people like me a voice where we have never been given one before. The frightening reality of this movement is that these same young people who are given a voice are sacrificing their education because they are terrified that if they do not play a part in this movement, they will instead sacrifice their future.  

On the metro ride back home from the capitol on Friday, I asked a friend who had joined me in striking and had missed a class to take part if she thought attending the strike was worth missing her lecture for the day. She told me that she felt that attending a powerful event that energized people and brought awareness to the issue was more crucial, informative, and important than attending an hour-long lecture. Her response made me question how we are even expected to participate in college courses that aim to prepare us to change the world if the world may change beyond repair in the next 12 years. It may seem like a bleak outlook, but I see it as a call to action. After participating in the September 20th Climate Strike, My hope is that we don’t have to wait until the younger generation is able to be in office to see change. My hope is that those in office today listen to the demands of the 2019 Global Climate Strike and to the powerful words of Greta Thunberg’s speech to the United Nations Summit. Yet, until this happens, I believe that change can and will happen at an individual level. I also believe that I took part in something powerful on Friday and that the young people leading the way in this movement are truly a force to be reckoned with.

In addition, during the strike, we saw many Neighborhood Sun partners and environmental activists one being Mike Tidwell who wrote a powerful piece about the continued protests that shut down DC intersections this past Monday. To read about his experience and the Shut Down DC movement, visit here.

Sophia Rivard

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