by Miranda Willson
The People’s Climate Movement, the organization that organized last September’s historic People’s Climate March, designated Oct. 14th National Day of Action. The PCM called on local environmental organizers and activists nationwide to demand climate action, as the 14th was exactly six weeks before world leaders gather at the United Nations climate talks in Paris.
I attended the People’s Boston Climate March on the 14th with approximately 20-30 other people, ranging from ages 12 to 70+. Most of them lived somewhere in the Boston area, although one couple I spoke with came all the way from Worcester.
We started marching in Kendall Square and made our way to Boston Common, finishing at the Massachusetts Statehouse. The lead organizer of the Boston March, Kenneth Larson, is a retired transportation worker who lives in Arlington. A member of the Sierra Club, The National Resources Defense Council and 350 Massachusetts, Larson decided to organize the event having realized there was no Boston-based action taking place that day.
“I’ve been involved with trying to raise awareness about [climate activism] for at least a decade,” he said. “I don’t want us to be known as the generation of stupid because we did nothing when we had a chance to mitigate climate change.”
According to Larson, this march was only one of a number of event taking place over the next six weeks leading up to the Paris climate talks.
Among the younger crowd were two 12-year-old girls named Emmy and Claire, who missed school in order to attend the march with Claire’s aunt and their neighbor. They had attended the People’s Climate March last year and are involved with a neighborhood cleanup group called “The Green Group.”
“I want to make this place nice for my children and my grandchildren,” Claire said. “I want to make sure they’re not living in a wasteland.”
Two other attendees, Nathan and Tessa, hailed from Worcester, MA, wearing black leather jackets customized with hand-painted patches representing various activist causes. This was the first protest for climate action they had ever attended.
“We’re here to protest the inaction we see in climate change,” Nathan said. “There’s a lot of talk but no one’s really doing anything, so we’re hoping to draw attention to the issue and get people to do something.”
Throughout the march, the attendees mingled and exchanged phone numbers and ideas, chanting, “What do we want? Climate justice! When do we want it? Now!” By the time we arrived outside the Massachusetts Statehouse near Boston Common, a crowd of tourists and onlookers were staring at us from across the street, some of them taking pictures. Liza Sockwell, a senior at Newton South High School who skipped school to attend the rally, shouted across the street in response, “Come join us!”
At the statehouse, State Senator Michael Barrett spoke about his carbon pricing bill and thanked the attendees for their supportive work.
“I’m here on a little bit of a mission myself because I’ve written a bill that would make Massachusetts the first of the 50 states to put a price on carbon,” he said. “But we need your help.”
He announced that there will be a public hearing about the bill on Oct. 27th, at 1 p.m. in the Statehouse.
“We need a turnout that shows the kind of passion you’re expressing today, because Massachusetts could be leading the 50 states in fighting climate change, and we’re not,” Barrett said. “What you guys are standing for today is really, really important. I’m hopeful that our state is capable of showing leadership just as we have on marriage equality and on healthcare for all.”
He concluded with a question: “Can we put fighting climate change up there as a place where Massachusetts leads? With your help, I think we can.”