Nashelly Chavez & Kevin Fixler, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
High school students from across Sonoma County walked out of classes Friday and converged in Petaluma, Sebastopol and Santa Rosa to join youth-led demonstrations worldwide demanding action in what activists call a global climate crisis.
Tens of thousands of students across the country are expected to participate in the coordinated March 15, grassroots rallies, NPR reported.
In Santa Rosa, about 150 students from across the North Bay and supporters waived homemade signs during a noon march from Old Courthouse Square to City Hall. An open mic session preceded the short, chant-filled walk, where organizers and others skipping school sang songs, read poems and gave environmentally-charged speeches to encourage protecting the earth and accepting the science behind climate change.
“It’s ridiculous, we’ve got to face the facts,” said Lea Fabian-Davies, 17, a senior at Petaluma High School. “We need to save the bees. We need clean oceans. Every small step counts.”
Four local teens, all part of a fellowship program run by the Bay Area chapter of 350, a global environmental group that supports reducing carbon dioxide emissions and investing in clean energy, organized Sebastopol’s rally planned for the town’s Central Park at 12:30 p.m., said Eleanor Jaffe, 17, one of the organizers.
“We need to act fast and have huge action to ensure a future for generations to come,” said Jaffe, a senior at Analy High School. “I think Sebastopol has long been a hub for environmental change and people in our community are excited and engaged about what’s happening environmentally.”
Momentum for today’s protests began last summer with Swedish teen Greta Thunberg, who during a speech at the United Nations climate change summit in December told a group of world leaders that they were not doing enough to stop climate change.
Another driver of the youth rallies in the United States is garnering support for the New Green Deal, legislation introduced by U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York, in February that aims to combat climate change by transitioning to sustainable energy.