Covering the steps of the Indiana Statehouse stood students ranging from elementary school to college age, lifting signs that said “Fight for our future” and “It’s getting hot in here,” as a part of a nationwide protest regarding climate change. They were joined by other environmental activists chanting,“The people united, will never be divided,” as well as other chants at the Youth Climate Strike.
The strike took place in Downtown Indianapolis and was organized by 350 Indiana-Indianapolis. According to 350.org, the group has been working on a global movement and organizes days of action since 2008. The strike lasted about four hours on Sept. 20. The event began with an opening statement and welcomed the crowd to stand on the steps of the statehouse.
There were several speakers throughout the event, most of which came forward on their own when the microphone was opened to the public. Some speakers shared their personal accounts on climate change, talking about the effects in the areas they live in, while others came from out of state to speak and participate in the rally. Some speakers shared what they wanted politicians to change, both on the local and national levels. The event organizers had music breaks to allow attendees to cool down and meet with each other.
Students from Carmel High School, Herron High School, Indiana University-Bloomington, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and Carmel Middle School, along with many others, shared their opinions about the current state of the Earth’s climate.
Silvia Leahu-Aluas, a co-leader of 350 Indiana-Indianapolis, has been working in sustainability consulting for over 10 years, and is an engineer by trade, said she has always cared about the environment. After working in the oil industry, she transitioned into working on sustainability.
Leahu-Aluas said that through connections with March for Science, the group was able to reach a younger audience and plan to form a larger coalition. According to marchforscience.org, the group is made up of scientists, advocates, youth, parents and others to have a more sustainable world.
“Each organization might have specific goals, but the ultimate goal of preventing us from going beyond the point of no return on climate is what pulls us together,” Leahu-Aluas said.
According to Leahu-Aluas, the event seemed harder to put on than it was. The group did have their doubts about attendance, however.
“But as usual, when the purpose is strong and everybody’s aligned to it, things will pan out and in my view, things were better than we expected,” Leahu-Aluas said.
The purpose for the strike in Indiana was for people to understand and take action, according to Leahu-Aluas. She also said that they wanted to ask for a Green New Deal, both locally and nationally.
Indiana Democratic gubernatorial candidate Josh Owens was present at the event and said that in his campaign announcement, as a state, Indiana is talking about climate change and innovation.
“…I’m very excited by this younger generation really fighting for climate justice and thinking about what the future of our planet looks like, how we fight for it and how we ensure that it’s equitable and protected,” Owens said.
Another Indiana Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Woodrow Myers, also attended the event and spoke to the audience. Myers said that he came to the event because he wanted to learn more about the movement. As a political candidate, Myers said that he thinks legislation to help fight climate change is important.
“If the question is ‘Would I, could I, should I, must I fight for changes that keep this planet the pristine and wonderful place it used to be or make this planet the pristine and wonderful place it used to be?’ The answer is absolutely yes, and that’s one of the reasons I’m running for governor of the state of Indiana,” Myers said. “…So it’s a government issue, it’s a private sector issue, it’s a global issue and I think Indiana, we’re behind in what we need to do and I think we need to push harder for us to get ahead.”
Among those attending the climate strike were University of Indianapolis Associate Professor of English Leah Milne and Assistant Professor of Biology Marc Milne. Milne said that her professional interest was the rhetoric on the signs and that the signs were interesting in how the issues are framed and how issues are talked about. Marc said he liked seeing how much social activism was taking place at the event. Milne also said that this event was a way for them to get their voice out there about climate change policies.
“We both like to promote the idea that climate change is a severe problem,” Marc said. “It’s an issue that we all need to unite and face and work together to push back against and we need policies that are going to allow climate change to be addressed and right now we don’t have that neither nationally or locally.”