December Climate Strike
Updated: Jan 4
On December 6th, 2019, Chico joined nearly 300 other cities in a nation-wide climate strike to demand that transformative action be taken to address the climate crisis. This strike was the most recent wave of climate strikes - the last wave in September brought almost 8 million people to the streets around the world. Friday’s strike was the strategic next step of Sunrise Movement’s plan in place to mobilize 11 million people in the US in 2021 in order to usher us into the decade of the Green New Deal.
During the Chico climate strike on September 20th, we heard words of encouragement (and questionable promises) from elected officials and candidates, were surrounded by 10+ tabling organizations, and stopped business as usual for a convenient 2 hours. On Friday, we flipped the last strike’s approach on its head - and loved it. No stump speeches, 1 tabling organization (Sunrise Chico) and 7.5 hours of held space (aka occupied Mechoopda territory) featuring an opening meditation, entirely youth voiced rally with 45 minutes of open mic, a class disrupting campus march, songs from a talented soloist, a set from local band thin air, viewing of AOC and Naomi Klein’s inspiring video “A Message From the Future”, Chico Green New Deal discussion led by Vice Mayor Alex Brown, Chico Green New Deal listening Session, paradigm shift teach-in, and a brazilian drum beating downtown march. The strike was Chico’s most complex strike of the year, organized exclusively by Sunrise Chico (with support from our community partners and donations from GRUB CSA Farm and Tender Loving Coffee). To save money (we’re a young, youth-led, grassroots movement - donate here) and, most importantly, to bring the conversation to the people who need to be leading it, we held the strike on Chico State’s campus from 9 am to 4:30 pm to connect, educate, engage, and build community.
We started the day with a group meditation led by one of our hub leaders in order to ground ourselves and start the day with positive energy.
Just after 10 am a crowd of 100+ chanting, sign-holding high school students came marching towards us - and the rally began. After a land acknowledgement we heard from exclusively young people. High schoolers, college students, and community members courageously took the stage to share their thoughts, fears, and inspiration with the roughly 200 strikers who joined us.
After a 45 minute open mic period which featured nearly a dozen young people, many of which were speaking for their first time at a rally, we marched around the campus to re-energize and invite folks to join us. Our march weaved through campus and found its way into Kendal Hall, Butte Hall, and the Meriam Library (complaints rolled in, BUT climate change must be an unavoidable issue in order to tackle it) and was even joined by Chico State President Gayle Hutchinson.
At lunch we fueled up on peace, bravery, and justice sandwiches (shoutout to the CAVE volunteers who prepared them), homemade vegan chili, fruit, and deserts. During our lunch we jammed out to soloist and promising musician Serena Faith Kuhn and local band thin air.
Our first teach-in was led by the Associated Students Sustainability Affairs Council and taught us about, and engaged us in a conversation on, the Green New Deal. After watching AOC and Naomi Klein’s inspirational video “A Message From the Future”, Vice Mayor Alex Brown walked us through her newly released Chico Green New Deal. We finished by engaging in a listening session around that plan to have our ideas, suggestions, and proposals recorded.
We then had a teach-in around paradigm shift and the ways in which we can be the change. Reducing our waste, ditching fast fashion, prioritizing collective action, and supporting the project to harness the power of tribal ecological knowledge to manage Butte County’s forests were all taught by our hub members and friends.
The day crescendoed in a roar of brazillian drums marched in by sunrisers and led by musician, educator, and inspirer Jean Chistopherson. Jean doesn’t mess around - she brought our her drums, cowbells, bean-filled cans, tambourines, and more. After strapping up our drums, finding a beat, learning inspiring songs from jearn we marched and sang around campus and down W 2nd street.
And WOOHOO, by 4:30 pm we had stopped climate change!
Fun and games aside - I’m scared. How we interact with ourselves, our fellow beings, and with our earth is terrifyingly destructive. The world’s leading climate scientists have told us that we need rapid, far reaching, and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society by 2030 in order to avoid climate catastrophe (yet global emissions have gone up since that report came out last October). Donald Trump is president. Private prisons, pharmaceutical companies, and student loans are enslaving us. Three white men have as much wealth as half of our country. Racists, suicides, drugs, and shooters are killing us. We are facing crises everywhere we look. We need a new vision to guide us forward. A vision that understands the interconnectedness of these crises and offers a holistic approach to tackling them. The Green New Deal is that vision. The vision to tackle the climate crisis AND the economic and social inequalities which are plaguing this country. The only vision bold and ambitious enough to meet the scale of the crises we’re facing. The five main goals of the Green New Deal vision laid out by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey are:
1. To achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions through a fair and just transition for all communities and workers.
2. To create millions of good, high-wage jobs and ensure prosperity and economic security for all people of the United States.
3. To invest in infrastructure and industry of the United States to sustainably meet the challenges of the 21st century.
4. To secure clean air and water, climate and community resiliency, healthy food, access to nature, and a sustainable environment for all people of the United States.
5. To promote justice and equity by stopping current, preventing future, and repairing historic oppression of indigenous peoples, communities of color, migrant communities, deindustrialized communities, depopulated rural communities, the poor, low-income workers, women, the elderly, the unhoused, people with disabilities, and youth.
Some call the Green New Deal a vision, some call it a plan (And some, like our very own good-ole-boy Doug LaMalfa, call it “an affront to the very principles upon which our great nation was founded upon and has flourished under”). If nothing else, the Green New Deal is hope that we may one day live in a nation with liberty and justice for all.
The existential threat of climate change is our wake up call to live in line with the earth, to right our wrongs, and to secure everyone’s most basic human rights. Sunrise Movement is answering that call. Join us.
//Steven, Chico Hub Coordinator
December 9th, 2019