Walnut Creek joins climate strike with park rally


Ethan Anderson

Citizens of Walnut Creek gathered on Sept. 21 at Civic Park to rally in the battle against climate change. (Ethan Anderson/The Inquirer).

Aryana Hadjimohammadi, Staff member

People of all ages joined the growing climate movement Saturday, Sept. 21, in Walnut Creek as the city hosted the Community Climate Rally and Environmental Fair in Civic Park. The rally was one of 40 climate events organized in the Bay Area in support of the Global Climate Strikes.

Youth-led environmental advocacy groups took center stage at the rally. Participants said they believed more young people should be involved in the movement.

“There’s a lot of adults and older people that are currently advocating for climate change but there aren’t many youth involved,” said Niharika Suravarjjala, a junior at Dublin High School. “It’s going to affect us mainly in the future, so we’re trying to reduce that negative impact.”

The rally was organized by Jackie Garcia Mann, an ecologist who has helped lead local strikes. The Global Climate Strikes were inspired by 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg. Last year, she began school climate strikes and inspired millions of students worldwide to walkout demanding action against climate change.

Members of the Sunrise Movement and 350 Bay Area, predominantly made up of students, were the main speakers at the rally, which took place in 90-degree heat. They were promoting sustainability and green energy while expressing concerns over the future of our planet, urging people to be involved in the movement.

“It’s kind of scary, being a high school student, we have our future ahead of us and now (scientists) are saying you have 11 years until your life is basically going to be not what you expect it to be. We’re basically put on a death sentence for everyone,” said Mary Clingerman, a student at Dublin High School.

Some of the speakers demanded urgent action in Washington D.C.

“I think it’s just ridiculous to me that (politicians) don’t care that the landfills are building up, there’s no space and they’re still going to shut off our recycling access just because of the trade war,” said Suravarjjala.

Judy Patrick, a resident of Manteca, said that politicians need to step up when it comes to the climate crisis.

“Greed is hard to fight in politics, but that’s what needs to happen. Our environment, our health, and our well-being needs to become more important,” she said.

For many students and organizers, climate change is a top priority. For some, it isn’t.

Although climate change isn’t something she thinks about every day, Patty Harrington, a member of the Sustainable Rossmore Club, said she tries to live sustainably and supports the climate movement.

“It’s on my mind only because I like to live by example, but it’s not something that I just am anxious and terrified about because I don’t live that way,” said Harrington.

The rally lasted two hours, and while many of the speeches were focused on climate change in general, one speaker, Charlotte, specifically referenced increasing weather problems in California like wildfires, heat, and droughts.

She vocalized how California is being negatively impacted by climate change and emphasized reform and progress.

“California is burning, California is drowning. If we aren’t progressive, we’re screwed,” she said.

As people continue to join the movement, one student leader, Max Wydrinski, wanted to point out what the consequences will be if climate change is ignored.

“Sure, there’s tons of other problems that exist, but this is the one thing that if we don’t get solved, nothing else will matter because we won’t have a planet to live on,” he said.