Youth Climate Strike in Hartford

June 2019

Ann Gadwah

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On May 3, 2019, students from across the state gathered on the steps of the state capitol to protest the inaction of the government to address the greatest existential threat to their generation: Climate Change. Inspired by Greta Thunberg from Sweden, the event was enthusiastic and engaging, a true call to action.

Organizers Kira Ortoleva of US Youth Climate Strike, Alexander Rodriguez of Chispa/CT LCV, and Mitchel Kvedar of Sunrise Movement, put together a fantastic program of speakers and environmental advocates that was both inspirational and aspirational. Kira Ortoleva gave a welcome and a call to action. Sierra Club’s own Martha Klein, former chair and current member of the Executive Committee, gave a rousing speech on the importance of youth throughout history in advocating for and creating change. State Senator Julie Kushner praised the strikers, saying they were our future. It reinforced the notion that we need to listen to our youth, it is their future in our hands.

After the rally, students then marched to the old Appropriations Room in the State Capitol, where the Progressive Caucus was holding a press conference on the importance of protecting the Energy Efficiency funds and stopping the upcoming $54 Million diversion due to happen in June. (The budget passed in 2017 diverted $155M of the funds collected for energy efficiency measures to the General Fund.) The students then marched, along with Leticia Colon de Mejias of Efficiency for All, to the Governor’s office. They presented a petition signed by 2,000 people from all across Connecticut to Governor Lamont, asking him to please help stop the impending diversion of the energy efficiency funds. It was a wonderful, engaging, inspiring moment.

All in all, the day was an amazing mix of a rallying call, a wake-up call, and direct action. We look to these youthful and engaged leaders to show us the way out of our current climate crisis. Please support them and show solidarity in any way that you can.

Ann Gadwah is Chapter Chair, Sierra Club Connecticut.

Photo credit: Ann Gadwah and Jennifer Dionne