As pictured, students protesting for climate action at last year’s Groundswell.

Global Climate Strike reaches Gustavus: Gustavus students take part in worldwide climate strike

Friday Sept. 20, will be a day of action for Gustavus as well as the rest of the world. Starting in the morning the Global Climate Strike will begin. The world-wide event was sparked by the inspirational rhetoric of Swedish environmentalist Greta Thunberg. The increasingly popular movement caught the attention of Gustavus’ own Environmental Action Coalition (EAC) and Building Bridges groups. As a result, these Gustavus organizations will be sponsoring events to promote the Global Climate Strike.

“The Global Climate Strike started in the summer of 2018 when Thunberg protested outside of the Swedish Parliament in the name of climate justice. This movement started small, but now has become a global call to action,” Senior Building Bridges Member Greta Dupslaff said.

Thunberg was called a leader of the next generation by Time magazine and was even invited to speak in front of the UN Climate Change Conference in 2018. In order to find time for protests, Thunberg began taking time off school. Every Friday, Thunberg would rally the group which became known as Fridays for Future to protest.

“We not only want to bring awareness to this global movement, but we want to emphasize the necessity of acting in the here and now,” Senior ECA Co-President Brianna Jol said.

Gustavus, as well as thousands of other schools around the world, have felt the urgency of climate issues and adopted the Fridays for Future tradition. The total number of organized climate strikes scheduled for today is over 3,500 around the world.

“As the Interfaith Program Coordinator in the Chaplains’ Office, I work with students to plan Daily Sabbath in the Multifaith Center. In that role, I invited Building Bridges to plan a weekly activity centered around climate justice, since caring for the natural world is an essential value in many religions,” Dr. Broida of the Chaplains’ Office said.

The Multifaith Center hosted their first Fridays For Future event last week during Sabbath. This time was spent discussing the religious connections to caring for the world we live in. Poetry is planned to be an important aspect of these meetings. Last week, Broida read a poem in response to the massive Amazonian forest fires.

“Where were you when the Earth was burning?” Broida asked the group of students who attended the Sabbath. While the Chaplains’ Office has no official position with the climate strike, they are very open to supporting such student-led movements.

“The Chaplains’ Office fully supports climate justice. Last year’s Groundswell climate event activity started off in Christ Chapel during Daily Sabbath, and this year’s climate event will do the same,” Broida said. The first event of the day will begin with a strike leading from the Chapel immediately after the Sabbath break.

“Following daily sabbath there will be an array of events happening in the campus center that encourage both reflection and empower us to move towards action together,” Building Bridges Member James Miller said. Throughout the day, there will be multiple small events taking place.

“One of the events involves asking people to write their concerns and commitments [regarding climate change] on ribbons and displaying them at different spots around campus,” Broida said. The ribbon campaign is just one way event organizers are planning to spread awareness about climate strike. Informational videos regarding the changing climate will be played in the Evelyn Young Dining Room, an interactive photo campaign will be held, and EAC members will have tables set up outside the dining room to answer questions and further spread awareness. The rally will certainly be the main event of the day.

“Gustavus students who wish to attend are encouraged to meet outside of Old Main at 5:30 p.m to walk alongside others from our campus community who are attending the rally. There will also be multiple car shuttles available for transport,” Miller said. The rally also has a color theme. Organizers have asked participants to wear a blue shirt to show unity in the crowd.

“We want this to be an opportunity for the campus and community to come together and recognize that we are all global citizens, we have a responsibility to our home, to our neighbors, and to ourselves,”Jol said.

Gustavus students as well as the general public are invited to attend the rally, which begins Friday. Earlier this week, the EAC had tables set up outside the cafeteria where students could RSVP for the rally. The EAC has not been the only group setting up this community rally. A local activist organization known as the Minnesota River Valley Climate Action has also been involved in planning. On the group’s website for the event, they state that by reserving a spot, participants agree to follow the law. Organizers want the event to be a positive and inspirational one where no violations of the law can be found.

The evening will feature handmade signs for participants to hold while rallying. After the crowd has gathered in the park, speakers from the EAC will give talks on climate change. There will be much discussion on what is causing the climate to change, as well as a positive message of what can be done to help. To cap the night off, Captain Gravitone & the String Theory Orchestra will perform for the crowd. The band is a quintet that plays roots music inspired by jazz, folk, rock, and other types of music. The band has been in collaboration with organizers to make sure the climate strike ends with a bang.

“All in all, climate change is something that affects us all. We hear about it every day in the news and we see it play out right before our very eyes,” Dupslaff said.