Marching down Market Street in San Francisco, singing harmonious songs, chanting empowering words, and carrying creative and thoughtful signs, I felt connected with the thousands of people around me as we all marched to achieve the goal of environmental justice. Environmental justice is not simply about the environment, it is interconnected with all areas of social justice including racial, economic, and environmental justice. This is why 30,000 people marched in the RISE Climate March in San Francisco, held on September 8, together with thousands more across the world. People from all different background, ethnicities, and religions all joined together in the march. The O’Dowd students that marched together met near Embarcadero Center and walked down Market to Civic Center. The group we marched with, entitled “We Rise for Democracy,” was made up of many different religious groups. We joined together, singing hymns from many different backgrounds and seeing posters of different religions supporting the same cause. It was so inspiring to see everyone put their differences aside in order to fight for a cause that is affecting all people. We all wanted to show our leaders that we understand the impacts of climate change and there needs to be something done about it.
It was amazingly impactful to me to see so many O’Dowd students marching for a topic that I am so passionate about. It proved to me how much our students care for our community and the entire world that we would come together on our own time to fight for such an important issue. We are willing to stand up to our leaders and demand change. This was also an extremely important event for the Eco Leaders, as we made it our mission this year to educate students about sustainability and to make an impact on a greater scale. Mobilizing the O’Dowd community to attend this event, in unison with Solidarity in Action, was very significant to our group as it is a major step forward in our quest to make change. I hope that Eco Leaders, along with all the other students who attended this event, will be able to bring their experience back and inspire others to continue to fight for what they believe in.
After marching on September 8, I attended a One Planet Charter writing event on September 9 with students from all over the Bay Area and experts in their fields of study, such as sustainability, zero waste, water conservation, and more. We used a design thinking process to write ten principles around the subject of environmental justice. All the students brought these principles to their school and their own communities. The following Tuesday, we attended the Coal and Ice Summit in San Francisco where we were able to talk to leaders in the environmental community and present them with our charter. At the Summit, I heard solutions and ideas that will lead to a more sustainable planet, and I also heard an inspiring interview with former Vice President Al Gore. He spoke about environmental issues, the ways he has been able to make change in the field, and advised us on how to create a difference in our own lives. I hope that I can bring the impactful feelings of the RISE Climate March, the principles of the One Planet Charter, and the new ideas from both events back to the O’Dowd community.