On April 29, 2017, more than 300,000 people in Washington D.C. and across the country joined together in a powerful demonstration of unity for jobs, justice, and climate action. Among the attendees were students, workers, community organizations, environmental groups, and faith communities.
“The Climate March was a march for climate, jobs, and justice. We marched to acknowledge the urgency of the climate crisis and celebrate the planet,” Senior Jenna Arvidson said.
Arvidson was one of 21 Gustavus students that made the journey to Washington D.C. for this eventful day. These Gusties were joined by Gustavus professors, St. Peter community members and students from the University of Minnesota, St. Olaf, Minnesota State University, and Carleton for a 22-hour bus ride to the nation’s Capitol.
“Gusties went to represent our passion for the environment. It was incredible to be able to travel to D.C. with my peers for a cause I’m passionate about,” Senior Zack Allison said.
Coinciding with Donald Trump’s 100th day in office, the protests are taking on the President’s environmental policies, which have generally prioritized economic growth over environmental concerns.
“Change is inevitable, and only we can solve it — the impact is just changing the way we live,” Senior Olivia Gori said.
People of all backgrounds, education, and experience attended the march and acknowledge a crucial issue.
“I went to express my feelings about how urgent climate change is and to surround myself with others. It was an empowering experience to be in a mass of people who care about the environment as much as I do,” Arvidson said.
Demonstrators braved temperatures above the 90s on Saturday to participate in the march.
“For that time of year, D.C. was about 20 degrees hotter than average. It was a muggy, sticky, and unseasonably hot day and the perfect backdrop to all of the signs that said, ‘the Earth is melting’ and ‘It’s getting hot in here!’ It was as if the weather itself proved the point of the march,” Allison said.
“We marched to acknowledge the urgency of the climate crisis and celebrate the planet.” – Jenna Arvidson ‘17
The march began at 12:30 p.m. near the Capitol where demonstrators planned to move to the White House and end up at the Washington Monument.
“It was a surreal experience. People were marching down Pennsylvania Avenue chanting things like ‘keep it in the soil, can’t drink oil!’ and ‘water is life’,” Allison said.
The protest continues the trend of heightened liberal activism since Trump’s election, as seen in the Women’s March in January and the protests at airports countering the administration’s travel ban.
Many are citing this monumental event as a movement rather than a march. Demonstrators will have the opportunity to join the organizers, the Sierra Club, for a Climate Resistance Telebriefing where participants will discuss the state on climate resistance and launch a new initiative to create local climate resistance groups.