Portland youth activists are planning to participate in a global climate strike Friday to call on city leaders to stop the burning of fossil fuels and to take other action against climate change.
Student activists say they will walk out of class and arrive at 10:30 a.m. at Portland City Hall, where they plan to hold a rally and read out a list of demands.
After the City Hall rally, students plan to walk across the Hawthorne Bridge and head over to the Eastbank Esplanade, where a Climate Strike Festival will be held. There, they will be able to have more opportunities to meet with other organizers in taking action for climate justice.
“The hope is we’re kind of uniting as a global movement but also recognizing that there is a lot of work to be done locally and in small communities and that everyone really does have a small role to play,” student activist Holly Rolfs said.
Rolfs is a senior at Lincoln High School. Over the summer, Rolfs says, she was inspired to become a climate change activist after taking a three day environmental activism camp.
“Portland is a really an instrumental place for like setting trends for like the rest of the country because we are so like progressive and so many people are so connected to the nature out here, it would really be setting an example for the rest of the country,” Rolfs said.
About three dozen student activists met last week with Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler at City Hall, where they were given a tour and discussed the upcoming strike in a Q&A session.
After the visit, Wheeler said in a statement, “those with the most at stake are young people who now must contend with the mistakes of older generations. They are aware of and responding to the urgency of this crisis, knowing that the policies and decisions made now will influence climate and sustainability for generations to come. We would all do well to listen to and follow the lead of young people and respond to the climate crisis in kind.”
Last spring, a similar climate actions was held in Portland and other cities around the world.
This time student organizers are encouraging adults to participate to help pressure leaders to make changes.
“It’s a call for them to have the same commitment that the youth have for their futures and to take that bold step,” said Elijah Cetas, organizer for the Center for Sustainable Economy. “If we’re serious about the emergency that we face and we’re serious about the transformation that our economy and our society will need to undergo, then we need to start building at solidarity right now and we need to start showing ourselves that we can do it.”
Portland Public School Chief Engagement Officer Jonathan Garcia and Director of Community Engagement Shanice Clarke said in a shared statement that school administrators will be made aware of the planned strike. Elementary school educators will be encouraged to participate in a developmentally appropriate ‘climate change awareness’ learning-based activities program.
Meanwhile, middle school and high school students must make arrangements in advance with their teachers or principals for addressing any missed school assignments and inform school administrators on the day of, that they will exit the school.
Garcia and Clarke also announced they will be the first school district in the country to launch a new support role for students as a climate justice program manager will be made available to discuss the student-proposed climate summit in the spring.
The Portland Police Bureau said it is aware of the rally and will have the resources available to ensure a safe and successful event.