Members of Indivisible MDI lead the Downeast Climate March down Cottage Street in Bar Harbor Saturday. PHOTO COURTESY OF YOICHIRO ASHIDA

Climate march urges action



BAR HARBOR — “What are you willing to do? It’s not good enough just to show up,” Bo Greene, a member of Indivisible MDI, told the crowd gathered on Saturday for the Downeast Climate March.

As she spoke, volunteers in rain gear passed out large paper sunflowers; symbols, they said, of the goodness of the earth.

Some attendees had made their own signs. One read: “There is no Planet B” Another read: “Let’s not frack with Mother Nature.”

“50 years ago we did the unthinkable,” Greene said. “We used science to put a man on the moon. We can use science to save our beautiful planet.”

When their police escort arrived, marchers headed up Mount Desert Street towards the Jesup Library, turned right at High Street, took another right onto Cottage Street, and then walked down Main Street to the town pier where they posed for a photo before returning to the Village Green.

Greene read a statement from Maulian Dana, a Penobscot Nation Ambassador who urged people to defend “our sacred Mother Earth.” Doreen Stabinsky, a COA professor of global environmental politics, reminded the group that by the middle of this century scientists expect “a sixth mass extinction and the loss of our most precious ecosystems, such as coral reefs — 99 percent of which will be gone by 2050.”

Ruth Poland, a science teacher at Mount Desert Island High School, praised the students in the group for fighting for climate justice.

“But we cannot and should not leave all the work and responsibility to the young people of Generation Z,” she told the crowd. “We all have agency and power and we need to wield it.”

Two eighth graders from Conners Emerson School — Lily Crikelair and Molly Dillion — addressed the crowd.

“We need to take action, even if it means sacrificing a day of school,” Crikelair said. “Everyone is busy, I know, but there is no more time to put things off.”

“I fall asleep to the thought of what the world will look like tomorrow,” Dillion said before discussing the steps people can take to address the impending crisis in manageable ways.

Both Crikelair and Dillion attended last Tuesday’s Youth Day of Action in Augusta, an event that included a rally outside the Blair House, speeches by Governor Janet Mills and 1st District Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, and meetings between student activists and state legislators.

PHOTO COURTESY OF HOUSE DEMOCRATS

From left, State Rep. Brian Hubbell, Iris Gillingham and Ania Wright meet at the Statehouse Tuesday during a Youth Day of Action on climate change.

Students who attended the Youth Day of Action were there to voice their support for two bills: Rep. Brian Hubbell’s LD 658, a proposal to “direct a plan for energy independence for Maine” and Rep. Chloe Maxmin’s LD 1282, which would create a Green New Deal for Maine.

Hubbell’s bill received initial approval in the House Tuesday, April 30 and was set to go to the Senate for initial consideration May 2.

According to Crikelair, LD 1282 is important because if “focuses on a just transition to renewable energy which takes into account the struggles that will be faced by workers whose jobs are based around the fossil fuel industries.”

“This day really demonstrated the fact that we, as the youth of the state, the country, and even the world, are taking responsibility for our future,” Crikelair told the Islander after the event.

Ania Wright, a COA student who attended the Youth Day of Action, was impressed by the engagement she witnessed between student activists and legislators. “We’re really lucky [in Maine] to have accessible elected officials,” Wright said.

College of the Atlantic student Iris Gillingham. PHOTO COURTESY OF YOICHIRO ASHIDA

Wright’s COA classmate, Iris Gillingham, also attended the Youth Day of Action. “It was really inspiring to see 400 young people from all over Maine come to the state house to call for change,” she said.

Speaking at Saturday’s march, Gillingham cited the fracking ban passed in her home state of New York as an example of what is possible. “[The ban] proves the power of individuals who come together and demand action,” she told the crowd.

Zack Klyver, president of Flukes International Whale Tours, spoke of the need to reach across the political aisle.

“We have to find ways to reach people who don’t believe in climate change and engage with them. And I don’t mean talk down to them,” he said. “We need to frame the conversation around issues that they can relate to.”

Betsy Sweet, an activist, attorney who runs Mooseridge Associates and former gubernatorial candidate, concluded the event.

Martin Hurley, a fifth grader at Conners Emerson, addresses the Downeast Climate March gathering. COURTESY OF YOICHIRO ASHIDA

“Water is a public trust,” she said. “Not [something] owned by a corporation.”

The sentiment of marchers was summed up by Martin Hurley, a fifth grader at Conners Emerson who took to the microphone before Sweet.

“I’m young,” Hurley said, “but I have seen what climate change has done to our earth, and I don’t like it. I don’t like it one bit.”

Blake Cass

Blake Cass

Blake Cass

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