Rise for Climate, Jobs and Justice Rally a Success!

Ann Gadwah

On Sunday, September 9, CT Chapter Sierra Club, along with numerous other environmental and justice organizations in Connecticut, held a rally and march at the New Haven Green to Rise Up for Climate, Jobs and Justice. This action was part of a world-wide movement of over 900 events in 97 countries and on all seven continents. The rally in New Haven was well-attended by a diverse crowd of over 300 enthusiastic and dedicated people.

The rally consisted of alternating speakers from participating organizations, environment and climate change inspired art and musical performers. All speakers were passionate about our cause. From Jaysa Mellers, a 13-year old activist who worked to shut down the coal fired plant in Bridgeport, to Jen Siskind of Food and Water Watch, encouraging voters to call their representatives to urge them to support H.R. 3671, The Off-Fossil Fuels for a Better Future Act. We had John Harrity, Union leader, speak of the power of labor to move us toward a 100% clean, renewable energy future. An inspirational Rev. Scott Marks, from New Haven Rising, spoke of the importance of recognizing the intersectionality of our causes and how to work together so we all succeed. An update on the fight to restore the clean energy fund was provided by Leticia Colon de Mejias, CEO of Energy Efficiencies Solutions. Alex Rodriguez of Connecticut League of Conservation Voters/Chispa and the CT Puerto Rican Agenda spoke of his family’s personal experience with Hurricane Maria and its aftermath.

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The beautiful art and music added special effects to the rally. Annie Patterson and Ben Grosscup played and sang environmental and activist songs from a folk inspired background. Wes and Q from Hartford, CT rapped and sang about social justice issues and the hopelessness many young people feel in our cities. Art work included a CO2 balloon cluster and an epic battle between the Fossil Fuel Dragon and the Earth Hero.

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After the rally, participants embarked on a march that lead us through the streets of New Haven to different locations that represent our fight for justice. These included a Sanctuary church where Fatima Rojas spoke of her work for social change and her daughter sang a hauntingly beautiful song called “No Beauty in War.” From there it was onto Chase, one of the banks that continually funds our fossil fuel economy and the detention of those fleeing violence. We then marched to the Plaza behind City Hall, where Giovanni Zinn spoke about New Haven’s accomplishments in working towards a 100% clean renewable energy future. From there it was on to State Street Train Station, where we saw how high the water will lap in the year 2100 if we continue our current path. The need for clean, cheap public transportation to help stem this tide was also discussed. As we walked to these various stops, drummers from New Haven Rising kept us marching and kept our spirits high.

We ended up back at the Green for a grand finale rallying cry from organizers Melinda Tuhus and Diane Lentakis. The crowd then dispersed, feeling renewed and energized to continue the fight for climate, jobs and justice! A drone flew overhead.

Ann Gadwah is Political Committee Chair, CT Chapter Sierra Club.