Maine Youth Day of Action Rally co-organizer Ania Wright '20 addresses the crowd from the ste...Maine Youth Day of Action Rally co-organizer Ania Wright '20 addresses the crowd from the steps of the Maine Statehouse. Credit: Yoi Ashida ’20

A raw north wind and showers did not keep several hundred students from gathering at the Maine Youth Day of Action rally, standing resolutely outside the Statehouse with handmade signs and voicing demands for climate justice.

The rally was timed to coincide with a committee hearing on LD 1282, a Green New Deal bill that aims to accelerate Maine’s transition to renewable energy in ways that foster equity and economic opportunities for the state’s residents.

After listening to speakers that included fellow students, U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) and Gov. Janet Mills, many students stayed on to meet with legislators and testify on the GND bill. As students from elementary school through college sat waiting in the Statehouse and Burton Cross Building, I spoke with more than a dozen of them to hear what had brought them to Augusta.

A multi-generational crowd assembles on the grounds of the Maine Statehouse for the Maine Youth D...A multi-generational crowd assembles on the grounds of the Maine Statehouse for the Maine Youth Day of Action Rally. Credit: Yoi Ashida ’20

Several talked about their love for nature – “the most beautiful things on earth are in the natural world” – and their passion for animals – “I cry about the polar bear thing.”

“Ever since I was little, the ocean was one of my favorite things” said Vi Walsh, 11, a student at Friends School in Cumberland. But with climate change, “all those species I care about – the fish, porpoises, squid – will be gone.”

College of the Atlantic student Iris Fen Gillingham,19, grew up on a New York farm that experienced – in the span of five years – two 100-year floods and one 500-year flood. She said her childhood, living on land above Marcellus shale, was marked by the “looming threat of fracking.”

Read More…