In the following dialogue, Elizabeth Bisno and Kate Spaulding share the experiences that led them to participate in organizing #LAClimateStrike2021, a student-led action set for noon on Friday, April 23 at Los Angeles City Hall. They are seniors at Laguna Blanca School.
Kate Spaulding: Discovering the threat of the climate crisis made me feel the need to act. There was an urgency to this feeling because the future that scientists have shown to be so likely is unfathomable and terrifying to me. Like Greta Thunberg — we’re the same age — I was confused that more people weren’t concerned about the climate crisis. Why was I the one warning adults about the state of the world instead of watching them take action? But unlike Greta and other concerned young people, I didn’t begin by demanding change right away.
Elizabeth Bisno: For most of us, there’s a separation between the actions we take in our day-to-day life and those that we only dream of taking. Even though we make choices about our friends, or where to go to college, or what job opportunities we seek, we don’t always apply the same effort to shaping the world that we want to live in. Taking action and advocating for the health of our ecosystems shouldn’t be any different.
Kate, before we started organizing the strike, I saw these ambitions as clouds high in the sky, out of reach. But you’ve made environmental actions an integral part of your life, and I think all of us should follow suit. Now I find one right here before me. It’s because of our friendship that I’m now involved in organizing this strike. It’s because of you that this effort became a ‘we.’
KS: We felt stuck, as many people do, and I think this is the reason that so many people don’t turn their concern into action. I thought I was different from all of the well-known activists of my generation, somehow less capable or experienced. However, I’ve realized that what makes an activist is passion. Elizabeth, you helped me realize that I don’t need to be a policy expert or have lived next to an oil site in order to deserve to make my voice heard. But I do need to do something about the existential threat at hand.
EB: That’s why we’ve decided to use our power as constituents to raise our voices and communicate the urgency of implementing certain legislation to our senators and representatives in a form of protest that has become very popular among young people these past few years: the school strike. On Friday, April 23, students, activists, and concerned citizens will meet in front of Los Angeles City Hall at 12pm and demand that our legislators and local elected officials take more robust action on the climate crisis.
KS: We are fighting for our lives.
EB: And for the lives of future generations, and for those already bearing the effects of climate change, and for the wellbeing of millions of species we share the Earth with. Through planning #LAClimateStrike2021, we’ve met many other young people who are passionate about the need for change in the same ways that we are. Working with them has inspired us and shown us that we’re not the only ones in this fight.
Like a lot of people, for as long as I can remember, I have been enthralled by wildlife. Whether I was holding my pet rabbit, climbing a tree, feeding a chipmunk, or trying to rescue a fallen bird, the natural world was a place of endless fascination.
KS: Me too! As a small child, watching squirrels and rabbits made me wonder how I fit into this lively world. As early as elementary school, I learned about conservation and recycling by reading picture books about plastic waste. I presented projects on endangered animals, and I learned that my community valued the environment because the grown-ups in my life expressed the need to care for and appreciate the landscape around us.
EB: It wasn’t until later that I began to grasp the danger that threatened the natural world. When Kate shared with me her passion for protecting the environment, I rode that wave and started to see the bigger picture of how industry-driven human actions tended to harm animal habitats and exploit natural resources. When I learned that rainfall will decrease while California wildfires will become more severe and temperatures will rise, I wondered what this would mean for the future.
KS: When I am older, I don’t want to think that we had the chance to do something but did not. I want my grandchildren to know that we refused to let the tragedy of climate change overcome our world.
4-1-1 | To learn more about #LAClimateStrike2021, visit https://patch.com/california/los-angeles/calendar/event/20210423/1024979/laclimatestrike2021.