From Apple Orchards to the Big Apple, Smith Students Take to the Streets

23 Sep

Smith students rolled into New York City this weekend for the People’s Climate March, leaving the peaceful country setting of the College to raise our voices and join with communities around the globe demanding climate justice.

The People’s Climate March was slated to turn out just under a quarter of a million marchers in New York; the estimated tally after the fact exceeded 311,000, with hundreds of thousands more marching internationally in solidarity with the local movement. Smith sent a contingent of approximately 60 people–students, faculty, and staff who were ready and willing to take their commitment to sustainability at Smith to a larger stage.

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As we stood, packed shoulder to shoulder in the blocks preceeding the start of the route at Columbus circle, I bore witness to dozens of joyful reunions between friends who came from far and wide to converge at the March. All along the route I marched hand-in-hand with close friends who had traveled with Oberlin, Cornell, University of Chicago, and University of Virginia.

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Although students made up a massive part of the March, there were parents with strollers in tow, front-line community members, laborers, teachers, politicians, and celebrities to be sighted along the 2-mile route. Children wearing superhero costumes with cape lettering such as “Super Villain for Climate Justice” swayed on their parents shoulders; many laborers lifted signs demanding fair wages and food justice; there were politicians and celebrities who marched along the front-line.

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This was a landmark event in the Environmental movement. Over the past few years I’ve heard the opinion voiced that effective, long-lasting policy change in terms of the climate will only come in the aftermath of large-scale destruction on a historic level as a result of the rapidly changing environment. I have shared moments working with environmental organizations and with my classmates here at Smith, in which the overall feeling of the group in terms of the movement has been so discouraged that we have just felt lonely, unimportant.

My feelings after the March were that maybe this was the historic event to change everything. I finally felt that we are not alone.

-Lily Carlisle-Reske is a sophomore student at Smith College from Alexandria Virginia. She is studying environmental science and policy with a concentration in sustainable food, and Italian. When she is not working she is probably in the kitchen stirring a pot of soup and baking bread.

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