Mount Desert Island High School junior Thomas Korstanje speaks during the Downeast Maine Youth Climate Strike.Mount Desert Island High School junior Thomas Korstanje speaks during the Downeast Maine Youth Climate Strike. Credit: Yoi Ashida ’20

Over 100 students and community members from across generations assembled indoors at the YWCA in Bar Harbor, sheltered from howling wind and March showers, where they took in speeches, chanted, sang, and cheered in solidarity.

Kayleen Peña '22 of the College of the Atlantic Black Students Union says that climate change is impacting low income, black, and brown people disproportionately due to living conditions and limited resources.Kayleen Peña '22 of the College of the Atlantic Black Students Union says that climate change is impacting low income, black, and brown people disproportionately due to living conditions and limited resources. Credit: Yoi Ashida ’20“We are striking because our future is uncertain and action must be taken now. We are striking because politicians and corporations are failing to take actions and refusing to accept the severity of the climate crisis. We are striking because we demand future, justice and action now!” Ania Wright, 21, a member of COA’s climate justice organization team, told the crowd.

“I’ve had classmates tell me that they don’t agree with the strike; that missing class to strike for climate change won’t accomplish anything; that we need an education first to change the world. I disagree. Because this is how real change is made, with action,” said MDIH sophomore Isabella Childs Michael as she leaned into the podium. “Demanding change and being part of the change is essential to ensuring a livable climate. The lesson we miss in school is immeasurable to the losses we will face due to climate change if nothing is done.”

Speakers and strike participants went through a list of nine demands, covering both national and local issues. They advocated for issues like keeping fossil fuels in the ground, holding our governments accountable, and continuing to work to make Mount Desert Island energy independent by 2030—a goal set by the regional group A Climate to Thrive.

Students from College of the Atlantic and nearby Mount Desert Island High School join to demand action at the Downeast Maine Youth Climate StrikeStudents from College of the Atlantic and nearby Mount Desert Island High School join to demand action at the Downeast Maine Youth Climate Strike Credit: Yoi Ashida ’20

Rachael Goldberg ’19 addresses COA and high school students and community residents at the Downeast Maine Youth Climate Strike.Rachael Goldberg ’19 addresses COA and high school students and community residents at the Downeast Maine Youth Climate Strike. Credit: Yoi Ashida ’20“We need to be the ones that are pushing the change. We need to push real solutions based on real facts,” MDIH junior Thomas Korstanje told the energetic crowd. “We need to show that you can make money with green energy projects. We need to ban fossil fuels and create jobs in managing wind farms, assembling solar panels, and creating new ideas.”

The Downeast Maine Youth Climate Strike was organized by students from COA and MDIH. For these students, climate change is not some unnamed creature that may advance towards them. They know that climate change is a reality that they, along with every individual on Earth, face. They believe that the only way to make change happen is by acting, now. There is no second chance.

“Walking out of school for one day,” MDIH sophomore Sophie Dowling said, “missing classes and having extra homework is well worth any gesture that I can make to ensure that I have a future on this beautiful planet.”

 

Around 100 people gather for the Downeast Maine Youth Climate Strike, held indoors at the YWCA MDI in Bar Harbor because of inclement weather.Around 100 people gather for the Downeast Maine Youth Climate Strike, held indoors at the YWCA MDI in Bar Harbor because of inclement weather. Credit: Yoi Ashida ’20