GLA alum Mia (Fiji: Marine Conservation Expedition™2019) has always been passionate about the environment, but this year she put her passion into action! As a volunteer in her hometown of Edina, Minnesota, she helps to organize strikes against complacency, inaction and injustice on climate changeAs a volunteer in her hometown of Edina, Minnesota, she helps to organize strikes against complacency, inaction and injustice surrounding climate change. We picked her brain on how and why she got involved in this largely youth-led movement.
Q. Hi Mia! Tell us, what is it about climate change that sparked an interest in you?
A. Climate change has become increasingly important to me because there’s a really narrow timeframe for us to take bold action. After I realized how it affects Minnesota and my home state (we are in the top 10 for fastest warming cities in the US) and how it has already devastated so many countries worldwide.
Q. How did your experience in Fiji play into this passion?
A. Climate change advocacy definitely influenced my decision to go to Fiji. Being someplace that was so directly affected by rising sea levels and the effects of climate change was definitely something I was conscious of as I made my decision. The lessons on marine biodiversity and coral ecosystems made me realize the extent to which CO2 emissions and greenhouse gasses affect the oceans – especially the ones in the global South.
Q. What was the catalyst that got you going? Do you feel like you’re making a difference?
A. I’ve been involved in the climate movement for about a year (maybe slightly more?). After attending protests and bill launches in the Twin Cities and learning more about grassroots activism, I became increasingly more active in organizing protests. I helped organized the March 15 strike in Minneapolis, which had around 1500 strikers. I was the lead organizer for the big September 20 strike, which had around 8,000 strikers in St. Paul alone, likely 10,000 statewide. In between those large events, we organized workshops with Youth Undoing Institutional Racism and created a number of statewide campaigns (launching soon!) over the summer.
Q. What work & thought process goes into organizing a climate strike?
A. We finalize logistical details first; this would be legal issues, permitting, location, and timing. After we complete those things, we establish our policy goals and statewide demands. If these demands require meetings with politicians or other organizers, we schedule those and target specific policymakers and corporations based off of those interactions. The bulk of our time is spent creating strategies – social media strategies, press strategies, community outreach strategies, and finance strategies. We need to create structures that allow community members to get involved and support the movement!
Q. If you had one piece of advice for young people who want to want to protect our earth, what would it be?
A. Get involved in grassroots organizing! We’ve seen for so long how a broken system has damaged our Earth – organizing and activism is a way to fix that broken system in a way that brings the power back to the people. Go to strikes, organize climate protests, and focus on radical climate action!