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Local teens organize to combat climate change

St. Francis students team up, plan demonstration Sept. 20

Last year, she was a solitary teen protesting on the steps of Sweden's Parliament House, but now Greta Thunberg is inspiring thousands to join the global youth movement calling for action on climate change.

Worldwide, "Fridays for Future" school walkouts in March brought together students from across 112 countries. Among them were St. Francis High School juniors Sindhu Vajrala and Jamie Minden, who co-founded the Silicon Valley Youth Climate Strike the same month, putting together resources to organize walkouts in under four days.

The chapter, which has since expanded to 20 members and five co-leads, is readying for its next march, set for Friday, Sept. 20.

Minden said they are coordinating with 60 public high schools, as well as middle schools, community colleges and businesses to reach their goal of 10,000 attendees.

That includes arranging transportation for students, communicating with teachers unions to avoid testing conflicts on the day of the march and petitioning districts not to reprimand students for participating, according to Minden.

"What's the point of learning for a future that we might not have?" Minden said.

The group also comes bearing a list of demands for local and federal governments, schools and tech companies.

The Silicon Valley Youth Climate Strike is calling for cities to declare a climate emergency and adopt more aggressive eco-friendly building and energy codes. It also advocates for schools to move toward zero-waste and corporations such as PG&E, Amazon and Facebook to reduce their carbon footprint.

"If you think about climate change and the environmental movement, the government has been against the people on this every step only the way," Minden said. "Action has been through citizens ... kids like us lobbying people (for change)."

The group has formed a coalition between local youth-led environmental groups, including Sunrise Movement, 350 Bay Area and Extinction Rebellion, to organize the event and is consulting with adult organizers from the Women's March, March for Science, and Mothers Out Front.

"We're not going to be able to solve climate change with youth alone," said Peri Plantenberg, co-lead and sophomore at Homestead High School in Cupertino.

Plantenberg said the organizers are prioritizing the involvement of people of color and underrepresented groups in the environmental movement.

"One of our main goals is to make sure that we combat environmental racism," Plantenberg said. "It's traditionally a very whitewashed movement. We make it a priority to take a look at who is around us and make sure that we are including different ethnicities and different types of people."

Plantenberg pointed to the largely unrecognized advocacy efforts of Native Americans in protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline and Latin Americans' work to preserve the Amazon rainforest.

Beyond the march, Plantenberg said the group is taking other actions in the interest of fighting global warming.

The group plans to lobby the Los Altos City Council, with the hopes of it becoming the first city in the United States to adopt a carbon dividend act, a revenue-neutral policy that would charge a fossil fuel fees to mines, pipelines and other producers, and redistribute the collected money to citizens.

On Aug. 22, members of the Youth Climate Strike, Sunrise Movement and other environmental organizations held a sit-in at the Democratic National Committee summer meeting in San Francisco to protest Chairman Tom Perez's past refusal to a host a climate-specific presidential debate.

"Our lives shouldn't be political," Plantenberg said.

The three-day committee meeting, open to the press and public, drew 13 presidential candidates and nearly 350 delegates. At the event, the committee voted not to host a climate-specific debate.

Both Minden and Plantenberg said people and governments should focus on actionable solutions to solve the climate crisis.

Growing up during one of the most persistent droughts in California's history, Minden was repeatedly given "disheartening" feedback by surrounding adults, who said that the effects of global warming were unavoidable.

"It's hard to comprehend that we might not have a future," Plantenberg said. "I know that I'm going to regret it so much if I don't take action."

Information

Participants in the Friday, Sept. 20, march should arrive at the San Jose Diridon Caltrain Station between by 2:45 p.m. The group plans to begin marching at 3 p.m. to San Jose City Hall, where the event will conclude in a rally featuring speakers and live entertainment. More information is online here.

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Comments

1 person likes this
Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 1, 2019 at 3:11 pm

It is wonderful that maturing kids /almost long adults / recognize that they can have an effect on public policy. But public marches and certainly on-line email petitions have minimal effect (IMO from 55 years of largely successful community organizing).

You will have the more real effect - not by being march organizers (like a General Strike) - but by being targeted LEGISLATIVE PRESSURE organizers. Target the City Councils and School Boards in your area. Are they helping CO2 reductions? Show un and write individual support letters (not those darn 'petitions'). Are schools not adding Solar Electric ? (MVWSD's and the globe's problem) So, why are you NOT showing up to protest that? [BTW, the MVLA and LASD and City of MV have all Constructed Solar Electric / MVWSD administrators 'just talk' and 'just delay')

Showing up - meeting by meeting. Asking to meet and confer with the individual council members and board members WHO Make The PUBLIC POLICY, will slowly have an effect. And volunteer and walk the voter precincts for local green candidates! Even without a vote, you may affect the outcome of a vote.


8 people like this
Posted by Gary
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Sep 1, 2019 at 4:01 pm

Gary is a registered user.

Well. They did get an article in the Voice. Maybe that hurricane off Florida with help wake up some folks.


12 people like this
Posted by Salt
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 1, 2019 at 4:32 pm

Kids, I'd take Steven Nelson's advice with a grain of salt. Do a search for "Steven Nelson school board" on this very site to find articles with quotes like:

"Nelson's tumultuous tenure in Mountain View Whisman, from 2012-16, quickly hit a low point in 2013, when he was formally censured by his fellow board members for unprofessional behavior, offensive outbursts and violating the code of conduct. He was stripped of his position as clerk of the board as punishment.

Nelson is widely blamed for creating a hostile work environment for district staff, leading to the abrupt resignation in 2014 of then-Superintendent Craig Goldman."

One might contest his rosy portrait of his efforts as "55 years of largely successful community organizing."


13 people like this
Posted by Gary
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Sep 1, 2019 at 5:23 pm

Gary is a registered user.

Not quite the point. But okay Mr."Salt." Tell us about the civic and environmental education offered in the local public schools. Tell us about how an educated and active electorate winds up with a trillion dollar per year deficit, continued dependence on fossil fuels and Donald Trump as President. Half of the American population lives in near proverty. The world could end tonight in a third world war. World leaders agree on little except how they can remain in power Tell us everthing is just fine and dandy. Don't worry, be happy. No sense in ending up like protesters in Hong Kong. Watch a movie instead. How about KING KONG - the latest version?


17 people like this
Posted by Salt
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 1, 2019 at 5:42 pm

Let's be clear, all of the things you mentioned are the fault of your and Steven's generation. These kids have been left holding the bag, and I'm glad they're out there working.

Given Steven's personal track record according to those articles, I don't think he should be lecturing anyone on how to effect positive change in the world.


21 people like this
Posted by Gary
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Sep 1, 2019 at 5:47 pm

Gary is a registered user.

Feel free to suggest what your generation and younger should be doing. Half of adult citizens in the USA do not even vote in Presidential elections. Is that good, bad or you can't be bothered?


5 people like this
Posted by Sodium chloride
a resident of North Bayshore
on Sep 1, 2019 at 9:12 pm

So salty. No solutions, just whining.


2 people like this
Posted by Jerry
a resident of North Whisman
on Sep 2, 2019 at 2:57 pm

The tone of these comments is a little disconcerting. Climate change will require that we set aside all manner of differences of opinion and join together and save our place on the planet. Afterwards we can go back to bickering and blaming each other.

I heartily support the student strikes. I hope you'll extend Fridays to more days of the week, and more weeks in the month. There's little chance of a survivable future for you given our current trajectory.

I suggest you all just camp outside the council chambers of counties, cities, school districts, and water districts. Sit there and demand positive action. Demand that every agency look to how they can scale up from city to county to state to nation-state. Work with organizations like C40.org to spread actions globally. It's your only chance of making it to retirement alive.


5 people like this
Posted by Dan Waylonis
a resident of Jackson Park
on Sep 2, 2019 at 3:21 pm

Dan Waylonis is a registered user.

Alternatively, the kids could stay in school and even take extra STEM classes. With a greater understand of science and technology, perhaps they'll become engineers and scientists interested in power generation and transportation. The way out of burning fossil fuels for power and transit will be through technology. Solar and other renewables are nice to have but nuclear power is the savior. Iit's just sad that the US nuclear power plan has been put on hold for the past 40 years due to a non-incident.


Like this comment
Posted by Sodium chloride
a resident of North Bayshore
on Sep 2, 2019 at 3:55 pm

> but nuclear power is the savior.

No, it's not. It's far too expensive and takes decades to get a plant to generate the first watt. By then, the tens of billions in costs could have been generating massive amounts of power for years.

> Iit's just sad that the US nuclear power plan has been put on hold for the past 40 years due to a non-incident.

Again, no. It's cost. No one can afford it. No one can afford to insure it. Nuclear bankrupts companies (Westinghouse, etc..)

A simple back-of-the-napkin demonstrates the absurd costs.


Like this comment
Posted by Rossta
a resident of Waverly Park
on Sep 2, 2019 at 5:13 pm

Rossta is a registered user.

Hey, back to the kids...
Keep up your good work. Follow the leads and feedback you get from the people you talk to. Conventional methods of getting action on climate change have failed, so listening to other people's experience isn't really very valuable. You guys are smart and can find a path to success!


2 people like this
Posted by A cantankerous curmudgeon
a resident of Willowgate
on Sep 3, 2019 at 11:56 am

A cantankerous curmudgeon is a registered user.

[Post removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]


10 people like this
Posted by MogensLauritzen
a resident of Gemello
on Sep 3, 2019 at 12:58 pm

MogensLauritzen is a registered user.

It is totally cool the younger generation finally is starting to speak out.

Our older generation, especially including Cantankerous Curmudgeon, has utterly failed. But perhaps we can use CC as back-fill to raise our levees or as cannon fodder in the Climate Wars to come!

Nuclear Power is not an option. Too expensive, NIBY. Imagine NP in - say - Sudan, Haiti? Won't happen. And why should it? Plaster a California 20x30 mile area with PV panels and you have all the electricity we'll ever need in the state. Storage? Roll up your sleeves. Batteries are on track to improve by at least 2x in the next 10 years. Long term storage? Make synthetic H2 or CH4 and pump it into our existing natural gas network.

Stop being reactionary, and get your behind in gear. Join the kids!


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