Activists to demand climate action through Friday rallies

  • Greening Greenfield held a climate change rally in October 2018. The organization is now one of several involved with planning rallies on Friday to urge government action to phase out fossil fuels and speed the transition to sustainable, renewable energy. Staff File Photo/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 9/17/2019 6:54:29 PM

GREENFIELD — Local activists will bring attention to climate change and urge governmental action on Friday as part of the Global Climate Action Rally.

Area students and others will travel to participate in the climate rally in Boston, while supporters will also hold events locally, culminating in a 5 p.m. rally on the Greenfield Common.

The rally, organized mainly by the newly formed Franklin County Global Climate Action Network, is set for three days before the United Nations’ Climate Action Summit, according to a press release about the event. Participants want to urge government action to phase out fossil fuels and speed the transition to sustainable, renewable energy.

The Franklin County Global Climate Action Network has already counted scores of supporting groups, including the League of Women Voters, Pioneer Valley Women’s March and the Wendell State Forest Alliance, along with the founding groups: Franklin County Continuing the Political Revolution, Greening Greenfield and the Traprock Center for Peace & Justice.

In Franklin County, the day will start with a send-off for the bus to Boston at 8 a.m. in the Big Y parking lot. Then from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., students from Greenfield Center School will rally and speak out at the Greenfield Common, inviting all who are interested.

Sixteen-year-old Charlotte Roberts, a junior at Four Rivers Charter Public School, and lead organizer of the bus trip to Boston, said, “Growing up, protest has been presented to us a key tool in creating change. 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.”

Kris Nelson, a Greenfield resident and Charlotte’s mother, will be on the bus, too. She said she supports the youth’s actions.

“Sometimes I find it startling that the young people I know, in the space of a year are, on the one hand, organizing school walkouts to address rampant gun violence and, on the other, to force us to wake up to the climate crisis,” Nelson said. “But they’re not unrelated issues. Organizing is a lot of hard work and they’ve been doing amazing things. Young people are stepping up and I think this is what we need — an absolute insistence that we pay attention and take action.”

Next, from 1 to 4 p.m., people are invited to join a “300-foot-long roadside protest” along Route 2 at the Bittersweet Herb Farm, 635 Mohawk Trail in Shelburne Falls.

David Wallace, owner of Bittersweet Herb Farm, said he was following the topic of climate change and couldn’t find an event nearby online. So, he decided to host his own.

Then, he found out about the Franklin County Global Climate Action Network, and “decided to coordinate to raise awareness.” He said the stretch along Route 2 is a visible spot that’s “perfect for the action we’re doing.”

“I’m doing this for my children and grandchildren,” Wallace said. “You read about climate disruption, a title which stresses it is a human-caused activity. We’re in a dire situation and all of us need to change and demand the government to do the same. It’s so we can have a future, habitable planet.”

After the 300-foot-long roadside protest, the Global Climate Action Rally on the Greenfield Common will be held from 5 to 7 p.m., featuring music and art, with groups highlighting different aspects of the climate crisis and how to take action.

The excitement for the day’s events witnessed so far is inspiring, said organizer Bob Armstrong.

“We quickly got enough donations to send a bus from Greenfield to Boston for the day, and support is growing,” Armstrong said. “People of all ages are welcome to participate.”

Plans are also set for a 5 p.m. rally in Northampton’s Pulaski Park to welcome returning buses there, with a rally supported by more than 50 co-sponsors. For more information, visit climateactionnowma.org.

Reach Melina Bourdeau at 413-772-0261, ext. 263 or mbourdeau@recorder.com.


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