By Gaby Jadotte
On Friday morning, Dec. 6, over 200 Colorado College and Palmer High School students gathered outside the Colorado Springs City Hall to demand government action on the global climate crisis. Beginning at 9 a.m., students walked out of classes with handmade signs painted with slogans ranging from “The wrong Amazon is burning” to “Denial is not a policy,” and chanting phrases like “show me what democracy looks like, this is what democracy looks like.”
The Colorado Springs climate strike was part of a larger movement that occurred across the United States that same day. Inspired by the Sept. 20 climate strikes, the largest day of action for climate justice in history, Sunrise Colorado College Hub and 350 Colorado Springs, two grassroots climate groups located in the Springs, worked with students from Palmer High School to organize the strike and include students from the Colorado Springs area. According to the Sunrise Movement website, the purpose of the nation-wide strikes was to continue the momentum started by the September strikes and demand that politicians do more than offer praise by establishing new, more effective climate change policies. Last Friday was chosen specifically because it was the day that world leaders were gathering in Madrid, Spain for the United Nations annual Climate Action Summit.
Frustrations articulated on the steps of City Hall were wide-ranging. Some speakers supported the Green New Deal or advocated accelerated decommissioning of the Martin Drake coal power plant downtown. Others focused more on plastic pollution reduction, recycling, and composting. Some called for climate action that acknowledges, accounts for, and counteracts the heightened effects of climate violence on marginalized and geographically vulnerable groups of people.
Despite these differing priorities, the crowd was united in opposition to Andres Pico, a City Council member from Colorado Springs’ District 6. After Palmer High School student Alex Fix invited him to join the strike, Pico’s email in response referred to climate science as “debunked one-sided propaganda.”
A large portion of the strike’s protesters were CC students, but some of the participants were struck by the amount of high school students who left school to march.
“It was really empowering to see so many high schoolers leading the strike and speaking out on climate change,” Brooke Miller ’22 said. “The speakers were extremely impactful, especially Taylor Saulsbury, a sophomore from Palmer High.”
Speakers from Colorado College included Pardes Lyons-Warren ’22, Rosalee Bayer ’22, and Charlotte Schwebel ’21.
Though some of the participants thought the march was a success with a great turnout, others worried that it wasn’t as effective as it could have been.
Adriana Baumann ’22 and Rory Eastland-Fruit ’22 said they “wished more professors cancelled class on Friday because the block plan makes it hard to miss class, especially during the second week of the block.”
Georgia Grellier ’20 worried that even though the march created a lot of buzz on campus and within the community, the strike was symbolic more than anything.
The Sunrise Colorado College Hub is continuing to organize. On Wednesday, Dec. 11, the group held an open follow-up meeting in Sacred Grounds to involve newly interested students and to discuss strategy for the upcoming year. The future of climate action in Colorado Springs remains to be seen, but dedication to the work persists.