Denver Climate Strike Recap — Maddie Belden
On September 20th, hundreds of Colorado youth from schools in the Denver metro area and surrounding counties performed a walkout to demand governmental action on climate change. This mobilization composed of indigenous voices, students, and individuals of all generations and backgrounds exhibited our movement’s commitment to inclusivity in the pursuit of climate justice. The Denver Climate Strike was one of approximately 2,000 protests in 125 countries. Over 7.6 million people joined strikes across the world.
Prior to the Denver march, Rene Millard-Chacon led a prayer and indigenous youth set the stage for the march with a dance. As sage burned and the energy grew, students of various schools gathered together discussing the intentions of the march with one another and with the press. The march presented an opportunity to exchange words of anger, fear, and disappointment related to the actions of our government, but most importantly, to reassert our power as youths to change legislation and collaborate to manifest our intentions in actions. After one voice yelled “Planet over profit” it echoed down the legions of marchers and empowered all to communicate their hopefulness and initiative.
Once the march arrived at the capitol, speaker Thomas Lopez Jr. — mentor and member of the Indigenous Youth Council — commenced the message of the strikers. Thomas acted as the MC introducing each speaker and serving as the cumulative voice to the demands of the strikers. His presence amongst other indigenous leaders presented a key voice to what has been a conversation dominated by the white and wealthy, especially the voices of the most corrupt.
As we know, the fight for social justice is an intrinsic part of the pursuit of climate justice. Many of the speakers addressed this by drawing attention to the frontline communities of climate change to raise our concerns about those most adversely impacted, but with the least impact on climate change. When demanding action from the government, our strike honored these social elements of progress towards legislative change. Voices, including that of indigenous elder, Dr. Maria Michael, invigorated the crowd with the simplicity and power of a message urging everyone to protect the land they live on and cheering on the initiatives of the youth. Dr. Maria Michael was one of many voices and supporters demonstrating the importance of intergenerational and intersectional action in mobilizations like the Global Youth Climate Strike.
Every speech addressed an aspect of our strike demands including a Green New Deal, respect of Indigenous lands and sovereignty, environmental justice, protection and restoration of biodiversity, and implementation of sustainable agriculture. 8-year-old Madhvi Chittoor, the founder of non-profit, Madhvi4EcoEthics, currently “spearheads a paradigm shift to advocate EcoEthics enabling sustainable choices in lieu of non-green convenience and greedy economics”. Madhvi spoke at the climate strike to urge Colorado politicians to ban single-use plastics and Glyphosate. Learn more about her pivotal work here: http://www.madhvi4ee.com/.
Musical performances also played a key role in conveying the message of the strike. A 19-year-old musician, Edden Danielle, provided an outlet to channel the youth’s feelings of disappointment in the engrained attitude of indifference and apathy in our local and national governments through her poignant songs. Here are some of her lyrics:
“Don’t know where to go to. Don’t know how to feel”
Like all youth, Edden’s music shows the value our youth places on preserving and conserving the earth and its resources through environmental stewardship. (Edden’s social media: Instagram @eddendanielle, FaceBook: Edden, and Spotify Edden Danielle)
“The world we love will give us all we need”
Every speaker and performer played a role in rallying the crowd by offering their personal experiences, adding a sense of humanity in conversations often dominated by jargon and passivity.
Notably, in the process of making demands and voicing shared concerns, we also engaged Colorado politicians in the youth-guided conversation. Sunrise Boulder presented the No Fossil Fuels Pledge: a commitment to divest from the fossil fuel industry and, in doing so, move towards 100% renewable, clean energy sources by 2030. ___ signed our pledge — a step in the right direction for Colorado politicians and a significant show of support to our movement.
The voices heard on this day demonstrated the initiative of the younger generations to secure an equitable and just future. Most importantly, it engaged Coloradoans and informed them as to their necessary input and involvement in the climate change conversation. The Denver Climate Strike, in conjunction with other gatherings across the world, provided a crucial stepping-off point for the week of action and was a monumental event in the history of climate activism. We should all be proud of the accomplishments made on the day of the strike and during the week of action and maintain this motivation moving forward with our work!
Colorado Springs – Jenna Lozano
As the Sept. 20, 9:30 class change bell rings at Palmer Highschool students got up and walked out of their classes. They were not going to the next period’s classroom though, they were walking out to strike for their futures. Lead by Taylor Saulsbury, a crowd of 100+ students marched to City Hall. At that same moment, youth from Colorado College and University of Colorado in Colorado Springs boarded metro buses and hopped on bikes to tell world leaders that it’s time to listen to the science. Other schools, businesses, and families came out in support with attendance outside City Hall totaling around 350 people!
There were speakers from 9-year-old Dylan Gray, to adult Scott Harvey. Local community leaders like Claudia De La Cruz James from NAACP and Mateo represented voices of people that have been and will continue to be, most impacted by The Climate Crisis. Then there was Lindsay Fracknitz’s musical performance with the chorus chant “For goodness sake, Close The Drake!”.
In Colorado Springs this action will not stand alone. There will be Climate Leadership and NVDA training lead by 350 Colorado Springs with the help of Colorado College’s Sunrise hub. There will also be other meetings and events to get Colorado Springs Utilities to transition to renewables and close The Drake Martin Coal Plant.