On September 20 and again on September 27, Amherst will join communities in 150 countries in a global climate strike. Inspired by millions of young people who have been leaving their classrooms every Friday to call attention to the unprecedented global ecological crisis that confronts us, young organizers are now asking everyone else to join them in action. Climate strike organizers emphasize that the climate crisis is an emergency but we’re not acting like it and that dramatic action is needed. According to the organizers, going on climate strike means people everywhere walking out of their homes, their offices, their farms, their workplaces to disrupt business as usual and to work purposefully to call attention to the current climate emergency and to demand action.
Here in Massachusetts, the main event will be held in Boston on September 20 and will include a rally at Boston City Hall Plaza. There are events scheduled in Amherst for both September 20, and just ahead of a United Nations emergency climate summit on September 27. Local events are being coordinated by the Western Massachusetts chapters of Extinction Rebellion and Sunrise Movement, in collaboration with other local environmental organizations. Local events are still being planned. The latest schedule and details can be found here. As of this writing, they are as follows.
Walk Out: Noon at UMass. The organizers are asking students, faculty, staff, and community members across the region to walk out of their classes and work places and gather in solidarity at UMass (locations tba).
March for Justice: 4:30 PM. March from Sheldon Field in Northampton to City Hall in Northampton.
Rally: 5:00 p.m. Rally at City Hall in Northampton.
Dance for Life: 6 p.m. First Churches Northampton.
March. 9:30 a.m. UMass. The march will start at multiple assembly points on campus and converge for a rally at the campus pond. Tentative assembly points are Northeast Residential Area, Southwest Residential area, the Computer Science Building, The Mullins Center, the University Health Service and the Amherst roundabout.
Die-in: Noon. Die-in in front of the Fine Arts Center, followed by a procession to Whitmore Administration Building, where climate demands (see below) will be read by participating UMass groups. There will also be music, singing, performance, and an announcement of planned next action steps. Similar demands are being made to local institutions at strike events across the country.
- That the government tell the truth about the climate and wider ecological emergency, reverse inconsistent policies, and work alongside the media to communicate with citizens.
- That the government enact legally binding policy measures to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2025 and to reduce consumption levels.
- A just transition that prioritizes the most vulnerable people and indigenous sovereignty, and establishes remediation led by and for communities suffering environmental injustice.
- A national Citizen’s Assembly to oversee the changes, as part of creating a democracy fit for purpose.
The full version of the demands can be read here.
According to Nathalie Tilley, a Smith College student and Art Director for the Western Massachusetts chapter of Extinction Rebellion, an additional goal of the rally is to demand that local institutions acknowledge the climate emergency.
Extinction Rebellion is an international organization that originated in the United Kingdom and uses non-violent civil disobedience “in an attempt to halt mass extinction and minimize the risk of social collapse and in opposition to governments’ criminal inaction on climate change.”
Extinction Rebellion uses creative direct action and artistic demonstrations and interventions. Tilley noted that “art gets people thinking about and reflecting on what’s going on in the world. When we are faced with grave challenges, we can fall into a sense of powerlessness but art leads us to create and to think about new ways of doing things. It’s the artist’s job to challenge what is in front of us.”
Extinction Rebellion’s next general meeting is scheduled for September 9 at 7 p.m. (with a newcomer orientation at 6:30 p.m). at the Smith Campus Center. The public is invited to join the discussion and help organize climate strike events.
Sunrise is youth-centered and youth-directed movement to stop climate change and create millions of good jobs in the process. According to their web site they aim to “make climate change an urgent priority across America, end the corrupting influence of fossil fuel executives on our politics, and elect leaders who stand up for the health and wellbeing of all people.” They note, “We are ordinary young people who are scared about what the climate crisis means for the people and places we love. We are gathering in classrooms, living rooms, and worship halls across the country. Everyone has a role to play. Public opinion is already with us — if we unite by the millions we can turn this into political power and reclaim our democracy.”