Community marches for climate action, students lead movement

Ryan P. Cruz, Staff Writer

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This Friday, Santa Barbara community members rallied together and voiced their concerns for the environment while marching down State Street in the second global climate march in as many weeks.

Led by Climate Strike Santa Barbara, this march comes on the heels of a worldwide movement led by younger generations to raise awareness about the impact of climate change.

“The world is our home,” said Thepo Tulku, Tibetan activist and co-founder of the Santa Barbara Tibet Summit. Tulku led the crowd in a series of chants that echoed through the packed courtyard of De La Guerra Plaza, chanting “We have to act; action is stronger than prayer.”

Nearly 1 thousand people of all ages, ethnicities and backgrounds shut down State Street and made the 1.5-mile march from De La Guerra Plaza to Pershing Park, where the crowd gathered, sang and celebrated what was the largest turnout for a climate march in recent history.

Throughout the rally, speakers showed optimism for the future.

“I am inspired and profoundly moved by the youth,” said Luz Reyes-Martin, executive director of public affairs and communications at City College. Reyes-Martin added that “part of the challenge is cutting through the noise.”

Swedish teenager and climate activist Greta Thunberg has been at the forefront of the Fridays For Future protests, a student movement in which children leave school on Fridays to demand climate action from those in power. Thunberg has been leading the school strikes since August 2018, and last week’s youth protest was the biggest one yet.

Local high school student activist Madai Quesada is following Thunberg’s lead.

“I’m skipping my lessons to teach one,” said Quesada, in a speech given in both Spanish and English.

Quesada struck a chord with many students in attendance.

“She gave me the chills,” said Natalie Blackwelder, commissioner of the Student Sustainability Committee at City College.

“You can feel the vibe. I came here to get involved,” said Marisa Toomsen, a first-year student at City College.

At Pershing Park, near the small amphitheater, recent UCSB graduate Maddy Dahm stood, orange skateboard in hand, and reflected on the day’s events.

She is currently fighting breast cancer, and after undergoing chemotherapy Tuesday, she marched for a better world Friday.

Dahm said that the event was “one of the most ensuring and empowering displays” she had seen.

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