Photo by Robin Molina

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Before the crowd proliferated through the streets for the Youth Climate Strike, an event part of the global climate strike and hosted by Operation Climate SA, Public Citizen Texas, Society of Native Nations and Climate Action SA. All organizations gathered at the front of the Municipal Court to hear the youth speak. The speeches were initiated by Frankie Orona, a member of the Society of Native Nations and the American Indian Movement, and as the crowd waited for the first youth to take the mic, another member walked around with burning sage to promote healing and wisdom.

Parth Ghawghawe, founder and director of Defend the Depths, partner of Operation Climate San Antonio and senior at Brandeis High School, organized the event. “There’s a misconception out there that youth don’t have much power, but what they can bring to the table is their ability to mobilize the youth population, their creativity, ambition and familiarity with technology to help spread the message and create change in their community,” Ghawghawe said.

In addition to the Youth Climate Strike, a Bicycle Die-In took place. Samantha Flores, a San Antonio bicyclist, shared her views on climate change, “Sustainable transportation is the way of the future… Every cycle on the road is one less car, 27 percent of all trips we make here in the U.S. are less than one mile, 41 percent of all trips are less than two miles. Until there is justice for our cyclists there will be no peace for city council.” Flores became a voice for the bicyclist community after she got run over by two separate drivers; now she brings awareness to the sustainable nature of cycling. She ended her speech by asking cyclists to lay their bodies and bikes on the ground in order to demonstrate how many of them risk their lives through the lack of infrastructure in San Antonio.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg spoke at the event to bring awareness to the city-led Climate Action and Adaptation Plan, which will be put to a vote on Oct. 17. The plan would put San Antonio on the path to carbon neutrality by 2050.

The march from the Municipal Court to Hemisphere Park was led by the youth and the crowd followed along chanting, “Climate action now! Planet over profit!” Upon arriving at Hemisfair Park, the youth spoke to express their feelings about climate change and encourage those who can to take action.

Paul, a 10-year-old, expressed how his parents have been able to take him on many road trips. But after hearing about climate change, he began worrying that he wouldn’t be able to show his children all he got to see as a kid.

Kayla Price, a student at Young Women’s Leadership Academy and youth organizer with Society of Native Nations, brought awareness to the pipeline that is being built north of San Antonio. “Climate change is heating up our planet, making places hotter than they should be. It’s causing animals to go extinct, same with plants and melting ice caps causing sea levels to rise, but our addiction to fossil fuels is the main reason. We pollute the air and water, creating less livable conditions for ourselves; we breakdown and cut oxygen sources; we continue to invest in infrastructure that has dangerous effects on our water and its quality. An example of this is the permeating high way pipeline being built just north of San Antonio in our beautiful hill country. The pipeline will run through five rivers, three aquifers and over 20 streams that supply over four million people with drinking water. There are many different places where this has happened and we all know pipelines burst, and when this happens we will no longer have clean drinking water, we need to work together to stop these things from happening and work towards making our planet better because there is no planet B.”

Alex, a 12-year-old, expressed, “I’m here because this has always been an international issue and it’s important to show that you have an opinion on these matters, even if people don’t necessarily listen. It’s nice to see all the different types of people, because that shows that even if you are not all part of the same community, you can become a community by sharing similar values. It’s important to speak even if it is hard because somebody else is struggling to speak, and if you’re able to do it than they see that they are able to as well.”

If you would like to bring awareness to climate change by getting involved in your community, visit operationclimatesa.org for more information.

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