‘We need action now’: Residents converge on Greenfield Common, Shelburne roadside for climate change protests

  • Protesters gather along Route 2 in Shelburne as part of the Global Climate Action Rally on Friday. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Protesters gather along Route 2 in Shelburne as part of the Global Climate Action Rally on Friday. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Protesters gather along Route 2 in Shelburne on Friday as part of the Global Climate Action Rally. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Cory Woodard waves a flag of planet Earth while protesters gather along Route 2 in Shelburne on Friday as part of the Global Climate Action Rally. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Protesters gather along Route 2 in Shelburne as part of the Global Climate Action Rally on Friday. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Cordelia Woodard, 8, left, waves a flag of planet Earth while protesting with her mother, Katy Eiseman, and brother, Lysander, 6, along Route 2 in Shelburne on Friday as part of the Global Climate Action Rally. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Protesters gather along Route 2 in Shelburne on Friday as part of the Global Climate Action Rally. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • A peace hand protrudes from the war machine on the Greenfield Common, site of a climate change protest on Friday afternoon. Staf Photo/Paul Franz

  • Greenfield Center School was just one of the local schools that were out protesting climate change on the Greenfield Common Friday afternoon. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Students from several area schools took time off to protest climate change Friday afternoon on the Greenfield Common. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Students line Bank Row to protest climate change Friday afternoon on the Greenfield Common. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Students from several area schools took time off to protest climate change Friday afternoon on the Greenfield Common. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Charlotte Roberts, a junior at Four Rivers Charter Public School, organized a bus trip to Boston as part of the Global Climate Action Rally on Friday. Two buses with more than 100 passengers left from the Big Y parking lot at around 8 a.m. Contributed photo/Emily Greene

  • Charlotte Roberts, a junior at Four Rivers Charter Public School, organized a bus trip to Boston as part of the Global Climate Action Rally on Friday. Two buses with more than 100 passengers left from the Big Y parking lot at around 8 a.m. Contributed photo/Emily Greene

Staff Writer
Published: 9/20/2019 10:48:52 PM
Modified: 9/20/2019 10:48:37 PM

GREENFIELD — With horns honking, waves and thumbs up, about 60 activists along Route 2 at Bittersweet Herb Farm gained attention as part of Friday’s Global Climate Action Rally.

Mohawk Trail Regional School students and concerned residents said they lined up by the roadside to promote awareness and immediate action to curb climate change.

“There’s no pretending that our climate isn’t changing,” said Connor Bailey, 16. “People need to know.”

Similarly Meckenzie Sarage, 17, said her hope is that the rallies — which were held worldwide on Friday — will promote change.

“I hope this makes legislation combating climate change pass because we need action now,” she said. “Our planet is dying and climate change is going to hit people who can’t escape it.”

The 300-foot-long roadside protest was started by David Wallace, owner of Bittersweet Herb Farm, who said he was following the topic of climate change and couldn’t find a rally nearby online. So, he decided to host his own.

Then, he found out about the newly formed Franklin County Global Climate Action Network, which organized much of Friday’s local events, and “decided to coordinate to raise awareness.”

At the Greenfield Common, more activists gathered from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 5 to 7 p.m. with signs and chants about climate change and urged governmental action, with the earlier rally consisting largely of Franklin County students and the later rally including music and art demonstrations. At the same time, more than 100 people, mostly students, traveled to Boston to participate in a rally there.

Bittersweet Herb Farm employee Rose Watson said Friday’s various rallies not only promote awareness and education, but are an effective way of enacting change.

“Some of the groups involved on a global scale, including Extinction Rebellion, 350.org and others, know how to protest in a non-violent way,” Watson said. “A cohesive protest really gets the word out faster. If you get 1 to 3 percent of the population — whether it’s the U.S. or the world — to protest, it facilitates change.”

Sixteen-year-old Charlotte Roberts, a junior at Four Rivers Charter Public School and lead organizer of the bus trip to Boston, which departed from Big Y at 8 a.m., couldn’t agree more.

“Growing up, protest has been presented to us as a key tool in creating change,” she said. “People in our generation, with the support of the adults in our lives, are using that tool to fight for climate advocacy — the thing that is going to shape our futures.”

Four Rivers Principal Peter Garbus said the school used the day for learning and action on climate change.

“Because our school mission says we are to teach our students to understand and think about issues of sustainability, we embrace the spirit and purpose of the climate strike,” Garbus said in a press statement. “Our business as usual is, in fact, to help young people get ready for the very actions our world needs in order to reverse climate change.”

Standing along the side of Route 2 in Shelburne, 16-year-old Oliver Flynn said he hopes sustainable changes can be made so people don’t have to rely on fossil fuels for energy.

“We have other means. Not everything needs to be run on fossil fuels,” he said. “We’re not doing the planet any favors and it’s done so much for us.”

Hawley resident Sienna Valente-Blough said she believes the matter has a sense of urgency and importance that cannot be ignored.

“I’m here because people need to understand this,” Valente-Blough said of her participation in the 300-foot-long roadside protest. “We need to reduce carbon, methane and refrigerants from the climate.”

Coming to advocate on behalf of his children and grandchildren, Tom Campbell, of Charlemont, said he wants his descendents to live, breathe and have sunshine.

“My youngest granddaughter is 6 years old, and by the time she is 36 the planet could be done,” Campbell said. “That’s a scary thought. We have to act. Everyone should be doing this, every day. We all have to do something.”




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