By Rachel Ishizaki – Bay Smart Communities Fellow
The Global Climate Strike that took place from September 20 to September 27 was the largest mobilization of climate activists ever seen and was inspired by teenage climate activist, Greta Thunberg. The week of strikes were organized to coincide with the United Nations Climate Action Summit where world leaders met to discuss how they will meet the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Over 7 million people rose up in defense of the environment to demand that countries enact much more ambitious climate policies.
Carrying a sign that had a picture of the earth and said “I’m with her”, Save The Bay’s political director Cheryl Brown and I marched through San Francisco’s financial district on Friday, September 20. We arrived at Embarcadero BART and were immediately met with a wave of young activists, powerfully chanting and marching. I immediately got goose bumps; what we were witnessing was a powerful effort of thousands of youth who were unified in their concern for the planet. The crowd’s disappointment in our political leaders’ failure to address climate change was visceral.
The San Francisco march was once of 6,135 across the planet. 185 countries and over 7.6 million people participated in the week of climate strikes. Youth vs. Apocalypse (YVA) led the march with seven banners, each carrying a demand aimed at world leaders. The slogans that really stood out to me were “we demand justice and asylum for people displaced by climate change” and “we demand that people, not corporations, influence politics”. Here’s a link to full descriptions of their seven demands.
At the end of the march, we gathered at Sue Bierman Park and Embarcadero Plaza where the waters of the Vaillancourt Fountain had been turned green, the color that embodies the environmental movement. Organizations set up interactive booths, young protestors enjoyed lunch after a morning of marching and members of YVA got up on stage to speak about the state of the environment. There were also guest speakers and a performance by Destiny Arts, an Oakland-based organization that is creating social change through the arts. All spoke to the importance of acting now to create climate policies that keep our future generations in mind. “This is only the beginning”, spoke a YVA member from the stage, a phrase I’ve heard echoed from across the globe during last week’s climate strikes.
What we do here at Save the Bay falls right in line with the climate strike’s fight for a just and sustainable future in which all people, regardless of income, ethnicity, or gender, have access to clean water, housing, and a healthy planet. And this is also only the beginning.
At Save The Bay, we launched Bay Smart Communities a few years ago to go beyond restoring the Bay landscape, and start work to address the biggest challenges facing our Bay community. Through Bay Smart Communities we support sustainable and equitable development practices within cities by advocating for green infrastructure, affordable housing, and a robust public transit system.
Save The Bay’s restoration team, along with their community and education based efforts, have restored wetlands across the Bay back to being functional tidal marshes. Save The Bay, along with other environmental and social organizations, is greatly needed during this time of rapid urban growth and rising sea levels.