I’ve always pictured extreme air pollution as something that only happens in China, where coal power plants, manufacturing, and insane car traffic create suffocating smog. Not until I was diagnosed with exercise-induced asthma in 2013 did I consider the role of air pollution and air quality in my personal health. Inhalers help me manage my asthma, but I still occasionally struggle with shortness of breath.
When I learned that my representative to Congress, Keith Ellison, would be hosting a forum on air pollution and asthma, I knew I wanted to attend to learn more about how I can personally campaign for cleaner air.
Despite many being under the legal voting age, a contingent of high school youth gathered at Governor Dayton’s office on Friday November 21st to deliver over 1,000 public comments and photo petitions in support of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan before the December 1 comment deadline. The students, part of the Will Steger Foundation’s YEA! MN high school program, joined MPIRG and Minnesota Interfaith Power & Light to thank Governor Dayton for his clean energy leadership and urge him to keep Minnesota on track for further carbon reductions as required by the Clean Power Plan.
Over 400,000 marching - more than three times the expected number! Some were actually finishing the march at the same time others were beginning. This extraordinary turnout might be attributed to the distributed organizing strategy, with 1574 participating organizations, or the inclusive and empowering messaging. I believe a key component was a growing common urgency in the populace, as people realize that climate change touches everyone and its already here. The question I asked myself was, what does our movement need now?
Rumblings of the People's Climate March sifted through my inbox, my Facebook news feed, and casual conversations for months leading up to the day of the event. The invitation was to call for strong action on climate from international leaders at Secretary General Ban Ki Moon's UN Climate Summit. I was keeping an ear to the ground on the progress of my fellow youth climate organizers, but I had really no idea what to expect in New York. No one did.
Hi, my name is Lucy West and I'm a senior at St. Paul Central High School in Minnesota. I am also a co-president of my school's environmental club, Roots & Shoots. I went to the People's Climate March with a group of high schoolers from around the Twin Cities as part of the YEA! MN youth delegation – a program of the Will Steger Foundation. The People's Climate March was a huge gathering of people in New York City of 400,000 people calling for immediate climate action.
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