The conversation around climate change is one that has invoked interest in schools, social media, and day-to-day life internationally. Over the summer, amidst a global pandemic and economic crisis, a group of CA students participated in a Wide Awake Leadership Program run by the Sunrise Movement. The goal of the program was to draw attention to climate justice and a Green New Deal. This program, consisting of middle and high schoolers across the country, hosted six seminars during August about the climate crisis and ways to help. Not only did it provide valuable resources and information, but it also taught students action planning and fundamental skills such as communication, press, and media that are key to creating long-lasting change.
Since coming back to CA, students have continuously met with their Sunrise coach, brainstorming ways to integrate the knowledge they attained over the summer with the altered schedule and precautions resulting from the pandemic. Although COVID-19 has changed many of our daily habits, it is obvious that the climate crisis is not waiting for anyone, and needs to be addressed.
A “Wide Awake” is the name of an event where young people are given a voice and platform to ‘wake up’ politicians who are unfazed by the realities of climate change, both complicit and ignorant to science. Typically, a Sunrise Hub will gather by the house of a person in power and chant slogans such as “No Justice No Sleep,” “Vote for Our Future,” and “Look Us In the Eyes” during the middle of the night. These actions have occurred all over the country for the past couple of months, and have gained traction in the press – furthering the agenda to “wake up” those unaware or doubtful of the ways that the climate is shifting, in addition to those who turn a blind eye to its significant impacts on the world that we know today.
Over the past few weeks, a CA student group had been planning their own Wide Awake in Boston. Despite its majority liberal audience, CA students directed their attention away from a particular politician and instead focused on the surrounding community, raising awareness to the Sunrise Movement, the Green New Deal, and climate-policies that will be enacted with each presidential candidate. From 6-8 pm at the State House Plaza, roughly fifteen students arrived, enthusiastic to instigate change in a city that they call home. Sarah Collier ’22, one of the Hub coordinators, recalls how “The Wide Awake went as well as I could’ve ever hoped for! It was truly such a fun, committed group, and the two hours filled with hanging up art, and writing in chalk went by so quickly.”
In order to stay safe and follow COVID-19 guidelines, students remained masked and socially distanced. Sarah says, “I was worried about how this event would function in COVID, but we were able to successfully deliver our message while being safe and mindful of the virus.” Posters covered with letters in thick yellow and black, containing eye-catching and thought-provoking statements, decked out the stairs to the State House. People walking by felt the eagerness of this CA-run group as they shed light on the conversation around climate justice in Boston.
This event is the first of many, so it’s important to keep up the excitement, frustration, and even anger regarding the way that the climate is being dealt with in the country today. Whether it’s getting educated, attending Green Club, or going to Concord Hub meetings, there is so much more work to be done in order to save the planet.