“Quite a lot of us are of voting age and we will run for workplace quickly – if leaders aren’t taking local weather motion critically, they’ll lose their jobs.”
— Ukiah Halloran-Steiner
Come to the Local weather Strike simply eager to skip math class, depart riled up and knowledgeable about freeway expansions and company villains. The organizers behind at this time’s Portland Youth Local weather Strike (PYCS) protest need to get folks concerned in local weather motion nevertheless they’ll.
1000’s gathered at at this time’s march, strolling as a gaggle from Portland Metropolis Corridor throughout the Burnside Bridge earlier than stopping at Revolution Corridor the place they had been greeted by attendees of the Portland Local weather Pageant. The aim of the strike was to take purpose at Portland’s ‘local weather villains’ and construct the local weather motion. The power was potent – aided by tons of of inventive protest indicators and a few costumes, in addition to some much-needed solar overhead – and organizers hope it would result in progress.
Because the final local weather strike in Portland, the youth local weather motion right here has solely grown. The youth-led marketing campaign towards the Oregon Division of Transportation’s Rose Quarter Freeway Growth has made nationwide headlines, stirring up highly effective conversations concerning the impression of freeway expansions that had been beforehand area of interest and firmly within the grownup area.
So, although this 12 months’s strike didn’t collect as many individuals as some prior to now, organizers assume it made an impression.
Adah Crandall, who organizes with the Youth vs ODOT marketing campaign and helped plan this protest, advised me she sees this strike as being a catalyst to one thing greater.
“The one in 2019 was greater, however I feel this one was extra intentional,” Crandall mentioned.
After I talked to Ukiah Halloran-Steiner, one other member of Youth vs ODOT who additionally helped arrange this 12 months’s strike, she mentioned she’s excited to see how many individuals are prepared to hitch the ranks to demand motion.
“It’s actually nearly seeing how many individuals are mobilizing and placing stress on politicians to take daring local weather motion. Quite a lot of us are of voting age and we will run for workplace quickly – if leaders aren’t taking local weather motion critically, they’ll lose their jobs,” Halloran-Steiner mentioned.
One of many functions of this march was to have native politicians signal a pledge promising to steer on local weather motion, and take actions like opposing “new investments in fossil gasoline manufacturing and infrastructure at each potential alternative.”
Portland Metropolis Commissioners Jo Ann Hardesty and Carmen Rubio, Multnomah County Commissioners Susheela Jayapal and Sharon Meieran, Milwaukie Mayor Mark Gamba nd state representatives Maxine Dexter and Khanh Pham all signed the pledge, although Hardesty and Jayapal didn’t make it to the occasion in particular person.
Halloran-Steiner mentioned she hopes everybody who signed this pledge votes to oppose freeway expansions just like the Interstate Bridge Alternative Program, which goals to develop I-5 from Portland to Vancouver throughout the Columbia River. She additionally hopes extra adults will go from merely supporting the youth, to protesting with them. “Younger persons are purported to be out dwelling their lives,” Halloran-Steiner mentioned.
Whereas teenagers headed the group, there have been loads of adults within the crowd. Amongst them had been members of nonprofit advocacy group Bike Loud PDX, who joined the ‘bike corking’ group to assist block off the streets from folks driving vehicles so folks collaborating within the protest can get via safely.
And though lots of the youth leaders have been targeted on transportation reform, ODOT wasn’t the one topic of the PYCS contributors’ ire. Together with the division of transportation, the group additionally got here out towards different ‘local weather villains’: fossil gasoline utility firm Northwest Pure, crude oil storage and transport firm Zenith Power, and the Portland Enterprise Alliance, which protesters say has lobbied to stop native local weather motion.
Throughout one level within the march, Grant Excessive Faculty instructor Suzanna Kassouf (above) took the megaphone to offer a fast rundown on NW Pure, saying the corporate makes use of greenwashing techniques to make it appear to be their product isn’t contributing to carbon emissions.
“There isn’t a such factor as renewable pure fuel,” Kassouf mentioned. “NW Pure: we’re going to take you down.”
Michael Fairhurst, who’s a member of the local weather motion group Extinction Rebel, spoke concerning the Portland Enterprise Alliance (PBA) exterior their constructing, asking them to take accountability for financially supporting polluting tasks, particularly concerning their involvement with the Portland Clear Power Fund.
“There are not any earnings on a useless planet,” Fairhurst mentioned, addressing the PBA.
After the march, folks had been invited to the Local weather Pageant at Rev Corridor, the place they might hear audio system and hearken to dwell music. Environmental teams like 350 PDX, 1000 Mates of Oregon, Past Toxics and No Extra Freeways had cubicles arrange the place folks may study extra about their missions and get entangled.
To Danny Cage, a youth activist who spoke at first of the pageant, one of many functions of a gathering like that is to point out folks they’re not alone.
“You’re supported in your battle for local weather justice,” Cage mentioned.
Taylor has been BikePortland’s employees author since November 2021. She has additionally written for Road Roots and Eugene Weekly. Contact her at email@example.com