As the clock struck 8:45 on Friday, September 20, students across the Aspen School District, and the world all rose from their seats and headed out the doors of their school buildings. Holding signs spouting messages like, “You’re burning our future”, and “If you did your job, we’d be in school,” ASD students marched to Paepcke Park, followed by City Hall, demanding action on the issue of Climate Change.
Fridays for Future were started in August 2018 by Swedish Climate activist, now 16-year olf Greta Thunberg. Thunberg began striking Fridays to draw attention to political inaction to climate change happening in her home country of Sweden. More than a year after the movement’s creation, over 2,500 events took place in 163 countries on September 20th to fight for climate change mitigation, with a strike happening locally in Aspen, Colorado.
The event was spearheaded by the Aspen Young Environmentalist along with others. The group, comprised of middle and high schoolers, were inspired by Greta Thunberg to organize the strike.
“We just really felt like we need to fight for our future. It’s important that we take action in things like this today because this is how we get our voices heard,” said the Aspen Young Environmentalist.
Students from fifth to twelfth grades joined together to exercise their right to assemble. Even though most students are not allowed to vote, they still wanted their voices to be heard. Sophomore Ava Cherry participated in the strike from school“We’re not of voting age, but it’s our still civic duty to fight what we believe in,” said Cherry.
Crichelle Brice, a substitute teacher in the ASD and activist, agrees with Cherry that students still have power, even though they may not be of voting age.
“I think it’s really important to never underestimate the power of being annoying to people in authority, and I think kids don’t always realize the power that they have before they’re allowed to vote, when, actually, you can do so much by annoying people in power,” Brice said.
After leaving the school, students marched together on the pedestrian paths to Paepcke Park chanting things like, “no more gas, no more oil, keep that carbon in the soil.” The group consolidated in front of the gazebo in the center of town were joined by adult community members and heard speeches from Tullis Burrows, Josh George, supporters of Bernie Sanders and members of the Aspen Young Environmentalists. Zala Smalls, an eighth-gradee member of the Aspen Young Environmentalists compared lawmakers to mean popular kids in middle school\; the crowd cheered as George, AKA ‘The Chemist’ shouted into a megaphone.
“We need to collectively make a change and save not only our wildlife or ourselves but also our future generations,” George said. Following the rally in Paepcke Park, students and community members made their way to City Hall to make requests of Mayor Torre and City Councilman Ward Hauenstein. Students asked Mayor Torre to support the declaration of the Climate Emergency. Torre responded to requests by saying he would support the Declaration of a Climate Emergency along with the rest of the council.
“I’m speechless. When I was over at Paepcke park this morning listening, tears. Your sentiment is heard here in City Hall. We want to support a resolution that supports action\; we’ve done a lot of climate action, but we can do more,” said Torre.
Tullis Burrows helped lead the Fridays for Future strike and is excited about the declaration of a Climate Emergency along with the turnout for the strike. However, he feels there is still more to be done in the fight against climate change.
“While I am satisfied on a local level, write your congressmen. Vote. Get politically involved. I love the local stuff, but the time scale doesn’t add up. Change needs to come from national leadership. That being said, stay hopeful. Don’t let the nihilism seep in just yet, ” Burrows said.