Back in June, the YEA!MN steering committee and I took our year-end retreat to the Lake Country Land School in Wisconsin. We came up with lots of big plans for our projects during the 2014-2015 school year, one of which was the Youth Climate Action Now! (Youth CAN!) conference. At the time, it was hard to picture what the event would look like and how we would go about making it happen. But many hours of hard work by the planning committee payed off, culminating in an empowering conference on November 8th that exceeded all of our expectations.
I remember a hot, sticky day in mid-July in Washington DC sitting on my friend’s roof on a conference call with all my friends and committee members back in Minnesota, straining to hear what they were all saying. I couldn’t really hear what was happening but I could hear passion through the phone lines, people were getting ideas, and getting excited. We were brainstorming ideas for an event that would later develop into Youth CAN! (Youth Climate Action Now). This event took place November 8th at El Colegio High School. We had students from all over the Twin Cities metro-area, Wisconsin, and even Northfield and Worthington.
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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.
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