By Mindy Keskinen
December 26, 2019
Some Como Park Senior High students were among about 400 young Minnesotans who swarmed the State Capitol on Dec. 6 for the Youth Climate Strike.
Two seniors, Morgan Nichols, of St. Anthony Park, and Emma Wolters, of St. Paul’s Eastside, heard about the strike through the school’s environmental club and the Minnesota-based nonprofit, Climate Generation.
“I went to make my voice heard, to spread awareness and to make adequate change at the Capitol,” Morgan said.
At this strike—the fourth in a series of nationally coordinated actions—the students rallied, held teach-ins and visited state politicians’ offices. Their targeted messages: support a Green New Deal; stop the Enbridge Line 3 oil pipeline in northern Minnesota; divest the state’s pension funds from fossil fuel companies.
Learning and making connections
Guided by trained youth leaders, dozens of strikers crammed into the office suites of Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, Secretary of State Steve Simon, and State Auditor Julie Blaha. Morgan and Emma joined the group that trekked over to Simon’s office with the divestment message.
“Once we arrived, Simon wasn’t in,” Morgan said. “But his deputy promised a meeting in the future”—a commitment strike leaders said they hadn’t been able to secure previously. She added, “We need to hold him to it!”
At the Capitol, a teach-in on environmental racism focused on the social injustices of a fossil-fuel-driven economy.
“While climate change is affecting us all, people of color face the brunt of the impact,” Morgan said afterward. “They are in the communities where the waste is being dumped, where the incinerators are being put. This affects the air quality, the value of the property and the lives of these people. . . .They are also the people that often get ignored in places of power.”
Youth have the most at stake
Reflecting on the strike, Emma stated she drew inspiration from the “youth leaders, some no older than myself, standing tall before crowds of high schoolers and adults and addressing topics our society often skirts around. This level of courage is not only a trait I aspire to, but also one I believe more of us should seek in our daily lives.”
Morgan agreed. “It debunks the idea that ‘you’re too young to understand’ or the thought I have often, ‘I can’t do anything about this.’ I plan to try and be more involved in this movement and attend future strikes.”
How can citizens get started?
“Become aware of your impact,” Morgan said. “Be educated with what is happening around the world or just in this state. Take time to realize that you can make a difference and take that next step. Reach out to organizations like Climate Generation or the Sunrise Movement. Come to a meeting!”
Mindy Keskinen is a book editor who coordinates communications for Transition Town ASAP.
Here are action steps for individuals, neighborhoods
Alongside political action, community initiatives can build a sustainable future from the grassroots up. Consider attending these Transition Town—All St. Anthony Park events in January.
• Saturday, Jan. 11, noon–3 p.m.: Potluck Lunch offers good food, climate action options and an all-ages community arts project tied to the library’s “Read Brave” theme. St. Anthony Park Library, 2245 Como Ave.
• Wednesday, Jan. 15, 7–8:30 p.m.: Transition Your Money welcomes all to learn about investing in a sustainable economy. Guest is Christina Jennings of Shared Capital Cooperative. Lori’s Coffee, 1441 N. Cleveland Ave.
• Thursday, Jan. 23, 7–8:30 p.m.: Visit our Ideas & Planning group to help with projects for a smaller footprint and a stronger community. CoCreatz, 2388 University Ave. W.
• Friday, Jan. 24, 7–8 p.m.: Year-Round Salad Greens Workshop about eating local! Bring home sprout-ready trays to grow on a windowsill: no equipment needed. Lee Olson shows how., $5 supply fee. St. Anthony Park United Church of Christ, 2129 Commonwealth Ave. RSVP to SustainableFood@TransitionASAP.org.