by Vivian Rose
(Part 1 of a 2 Part Series) – At the end of March, OHS Senior Vivian Rose attended a climate change rally in Brooklyn. Here, she chronicles her experience.
The Art of Marching
On March 25th, 2022, there was a protest in every major city across the globe demanding change – against climate change to be exact. From the battlefields of Ukraine to the rolling hills of northern Ireland to the heat of Puerto Rico to down under in Australia, people from all over the world marched together to make change for our future.
In mid-January, I was on Instagram scrolling through endless feeds recommended to me. There were posts about the ocean, writing prompts, the occasional cat video, and then there was a bright yellow post with magenta drawings advertising a march for the future.
It was advertised by the organization Greta Thunberg began in 2018 when she was just 15 years old. Now, four years later, in 2022, Thunberg’s activist efforts have captured the attention of the entire world.
Who is Greta Thunberg?
Greta Thunberg is a name I’m sure many readers recognize. She is the young girl from Sweden who makes her voice heard to world leaders imploring them to make more climate policies so the globe can reach a net-zero emissions goal by 2050. She is a climate activist who has called out the world for doing too little when it comes to climate justice. Thunberg has been nominated for three Nobel Peace prizes, was named TIME’s person of the year in 2019, and has begun the #FridaysforFuture (AKA the FFF) movement.
Thunberg grew tired of doing nothing about the climate situation, so in August of 2018 (when she was just 15) she began to sit in front of the Swedish parliament building every Friday instead of going to school. She held a sign that said in Swedish, “School Strike for Climate”. Pictures of her and her iconic sign became viral on social media and people began to look to her for guidance when fighting the laziness and slow progression of politicians when addressing climate solutions. According to BBC News, “By December 2018, more than 20,000 students – from the UK to Japan – had joined her by skipping school to protest.”
Although there have been many climate activists before Greta, her speeches and her constant action have caused an entire movement to be created by the Gen-Z community. Thunberg is young and intelligent and has maintained consistency from the first day she sat by herself in front of the Swedish parliament to the current day as she leads the world in marches for more climate policy-making.
She is far different from people of the past who have tried to begin a movement for climate action – she is not doing this to get attention nor raise money, and she will not abandon this momentum she has started anytime soon. Thunberg has said in many interviews that her firm dedication comes from her Asperger’s. For this, she has been praised time and again for being brave and having a great deal of courage when it has been needed most. I’m sure that Thunberg will remain a prominent figure for decades to come.
I have been to several protests and marches before, all being peaceful and having the best intentions. However, this Fridays for a Future march was different for several reasons.
Usually, marches and protests include both young people and adults, varying from teens to the elderly. However, this march consisted entirely of young teens. From the organizers, the speakers, to the participants, each and every person was under the age of 25 except for one older man I saw who appeared to be in his late 80’s. He held up a sign that was blowing in the wind and I thought he would be a heckler of our youth movement, but once the wind stopped for a moment and his “end climate change NOW” sign became visible, I welled up with tears at the thought that finally, all the generations of the world could unite and rally around this one movement.
Such a sentiment was expressed in a few chants the leaders began during the march. My favorite by far was, “We are unstoppable, another world is possible” and so was “New York State, climate can’t wait”. There was no hate involved, no name calling or bashing. Instead, the leaders chanted “Show me what community looks like”, to which the participants would respond, “this is what community looks like!”
Once a large group of people was crowded around the meeting spot of Borough Hall in Brooklyn, the leaders of the protest began the march across the Brooklyn bridge to Manhattan’s Foley Square.
As we marched over the recently built wooden pedestrian section of the bridge, we heard many people cheering us on from their cars, heads popping out of windows to smile or film, and people honking their horns. Despite the reason for any honk, once we heard one, everyone started screaming with joy. As we reached the end of the bridge, we heard the biggest sound of all – a honking horn from a boat on the East River which received the biggest surge of energy and screams from the protesters.
The finale of the march happened with thousands of people grouping together around an empty water fountain at Foley Square. It was a good place for the young speakers to raise their bullhorns and speak to the mass of participants and anyone else crowding around to listen. As for me and Mehakdeep Kaur, my companion to the march, we climbed inside the fountain and stood just feet away from the speakers. Their voices attempted to carry, but I’m sure many people farther away couldn’t hear the amazing sentiments we did. There were two poets who read their work about our future and our earth. Then, some of the organizers spoke, including one young woman with green hair tied up in small buns all over her head. It was a beautiful sight to see how far people will go to show their adoration of Mother Earth.