WHS Strike Circle has big plans for Earth Day
Quarantine isn't stopping local chapter of Sunrise Movement from raising awareness to the climate crisis
April 20, 2020
The Watertown High School Strike Circle is on the rise! This year, a branch of the Sunrise Movement, a national youth climate group, has formed in Watertown High School, led by 11th-graders Leyla Mandel and Lana Taffel. The group wants to bring awareness to the climate crisis, as well as take action to halt the effects of it.
Since the WHS Strike Circle focuses on legislative change to help the environment, it is promoting the Green New Deal. As explained by Leyla Mandel, “We have a limited amount of time to change the course our planet is going, so let’s not waste it. We need radical change starting with a Green New Deal, and that’s why we’re striking this Earth Day.”
The Green New Deal is a proposed package of legislation for the United States. It aims to address climate change and economic inequality. Committing to the Green New Deal means reducing greenhouse gas emissions to zero while also accounting for the people that may lose their jobs in this process.
So far the WHS Strike Circle has put a lot into the cause. These efforts include creating social media accounts, getting students to pledge to strike, and making posters promoting the movement.
“Our goal is to get as many people as possible involved in the movement, and one of the easiest first steps in this is by pledging to strike,” said Leyla.
“Pledging to strike” means getting involved in the group, whether that is through making a poster, or simply signing the group’s letter to Governor Charlie Baker. Students can fill out the form, which can also be found on their website, to pledge to strike and join the movement.
The WHS Strike Circle wants to take its work to a new level this coming Earth Day, which is scheduled for Wednesday, April 22. Though the COVID-19 outbreak has hindered their plans to perform a strike in Watertown High School, the members will not let it stop them from putting their all into helping the environment. The group is choosing to participate in online striking by spreading awareness and getting more people involved. The group has been using resources such as Zoom and Slack in their planning, and much of their striking will be social-media based.
One of the projects WHS Strike Circle is working on is a collaborative video that will be released on ints Instagram (@whsunrise), and is meant to inspire others to help the group in its efforts. The video includes many of the members of the WHS Strike Circle, as well as some of the people that pledged.
Although the group has already gotten students from WHS to pledge for the cause, WHS Strike Circle hopes to get even more pledges from this video, which it is also releasing on its website and Facebook page April 22. They members are also creating a story trend on Instagram, as well as a poster initiative, that anyone can participate in, similar to an in-person art build. The story trend will begin April 22, and continue through April 24, and anyone can participate by using the template on @whsunrise’s Instagram story. The poster challenge on Instagram is also happening on Earth Day, through April 24, under #myearthday2020, where students are encouraged to make and post the poster or art they would have used at an in-person strike on Earth Day.
The group hopes that others join them in creating posters, and they also have printable outlines that can be found on their website. for people who are not artistically talented. The members of the WHS Strike Circle want to convey their passion for the environment, and they believe that in doing so people will support them.
The next steps in their efforts will include sending a letter to Governor Baker. This letter will include personal stories from students who have seen the effects of climate change, as well as a demand that Baker support a Massachusetts Green New Deal, one that would reflect the reality of our state.
The Strike Circle has also formed leadership teams within the group. These include the Actions team, Communications team, Recruitment team, Narrative Team, as well as the Pledge Trackers. Each team has a different task that it must perform while working with the general members. This may include planning the strike (Actions) or handling online presence (Communications).
As students who are part of a younger generation, the WHS Strike Circle strives for a livable future, and they want people to understand the severity of the climate crisis. Environmental scientists have already predicted the horrible effects of anthropogenic climate change (climate change caused by humans). If change is not made soon, these effects may damage today’s youth’s future. The WHS Strike Circle is demanding that the people in power step up and do something about this.
Lana Taffel believes getting more people in the community involved is important to this cause.
“If you’re not sure what to do about this larger-than-life issue, just know it only takes that first step to get involved and make a difference,” she said. “People power is everything in this movement, and climate change is an issue with a ticking time bomb.
“It is a plausible emergency and we need to prepare to deal with its disasters. It will affect you, no matter who you are. We need to stand up for our future as a community and make a change.”
For further information and updates, follow the Watertown High School Strike Circle on its social media, @whsunrise on Instagram and Facebook, or on its website: whssunrisemovement.com.
–April 20, 2020–
Iona Fleming is a member of the Raider Times staff.