EMILY TRELSTAD/SAGAMORE STAFF
Maybe you walked out after B-block on Friday, Sept. 20. Maybe you made signs. Maybe you wore black in solidarity or posted about it on Instagram. Whatever your role, you are probably wondering: what’s next?
The beauty of the fight against climate change is that there’s so much that you can do. There are three major avenues of action most accessible to students at the high school. You can get involved in organizations, put pressure on your elected politicians and make changes in your own life.
You can attend more events like the Boston Climate Strike. These are often youth-led campaigns, so follow their social media pages and keep up-to-date on actions happening around you. Attend local events, or even events far away. It is crucial that people show up to let those in charge know that people care and are willing to fight for action. If you can recruit friends to go as well, you’ve already started your work as an organizer.
You can join organizations that are working to fight climate change. The climate movement is dominated by youth groups, and several organizations in our area are easily accessible. The Environmental Action Club at the high school allows you to take action during your school day. Food Justice and Amnesty International also work in parallel to the movement. Other local organizations include Sunrise Boston, MA Climate Strike, Extinction Rebellion Ma, 350Mass and Mothers Outfront.
These are all groups that are outside of the high school, but that doesn’t mean you lack the ability to be a powerful organizer as a student. Want proof? The entire Boston Climate Strike organizing team consisted of people under the age of 20.
The climate crisis needs to be addressed on a large scale with sweeping reform, but this doesn’t mean your local and state-level politics don’t matter. Local governments are where change can be made quickly. Your voice also has a greater impact on local politics.
Your call to a state representative or a town meeting member can mean a lot. You will be one of possibly ten or 50 calls. Your call to a senator or representative will still have an impact, but you might be one of 200 calls.
If you are 18 and are able to vote, make sure you register and vote. Vote on the issues that you care about, and vote for candidates who are going to take action on the climate crisis. If you can’t vote, talk to your parents, your friends, even neighbors you run into as you are picking up your mail. People will listen to you, especially if you are informed. Encourage people to vote on issues that you care about because those people care about you.
Finally, you can support the movement by reducing waste. You can reduce plastic and trash waste by being mindful of the things you buy and consume. If you’re interested in how you can reduce your personal carbon footprint, look at how often you drive versus how often you take alternative methods of transportation.
Unfortunately, we cannot save the planet with our reusable water bottles. The fault of the climate crisis does not fall on the average person and their use of plastic straws. It falls mostly on fossil fuel executives, politicians who refuse to enact policy action and other people in power who refuse to make the changes we need.
Now, back to the strike. For those of you who weren’t able to go and for those who were, here’s a brief recap of the most important moments: A group of musicians played jazz music and walked through the crowd. There were tables full of enthusiastic allies and partners offering ways to get involved. Students held up posters, often with plays on memes, such as, “I missed the Area 51 Raid for this” or “I am the Lorax, I speak for the trees. Litter again, and I’ll break your damn knees.” Young people danced and sang their hearts out to “We Are Young “by fun. featuring Janelle Monae.
The strike was filled with joy, which is remarkable because many supporters were motivated to attend by feelings of existential dread in the face of the climate crisis. As you take your next steps in the fight for our future, take joy with you. This is serious stuff, but have that dance party.
The world needs you, and you need to fight for a future that you can be happy in. Reframe your work so that you can fight for your livable future, with clean air, water, trees, beaches and whatever makes you happy in this beautiful world that we all continue to call home: a world that we want to call home for ourselves and for generations to come.