On March 15, Napa students rallied in support of the international Youth Climate Strike. Student speakers talked about the need for immediate action on the climate crisis to protect their future and the future of our community.
Napa’s student rally drew more than 60 students and adults who walked to City Hall where City Councilmember Liz Alessio and City Manager Steve Potter spoke with them, inviting them to come and share their concerns at upcoming council meetings. Alessio assured the students she wants to work with them.
Shira Sadeh, 17, and Bailey Thompson, 18, both students at the Oxbow School, were the principal organizers of Napa’s student rally. They learned about climate change through Oxbow’s Environmental Science class taught by Alex Keilty.
“We were interested in participating in the Youth Strike, but there was no local event. We’re both interested in social change so we decided to hold a rally in Napa.”
Thompson comes from Alexandria, Virginia, where poster-making parties and protests are a common part of life. Sadeh is from New Hampshire, where, she said, “No one’s speaking up, so I started reading the news and got passionate about it.” Sadeh’s family has a farm and is very concerned about climate change; her mother had sent her information about the Youth Strike.
In May, Sadeh and Thompson will finish their semester at Oxbow. Thompson is interested in continuing to work on climate action, especially with elected officials. Sadeh plans to take courses on social movements and join groups that advocate for change. She said, “We need immediate action now to decarbonize America by 2030. I want to advocate for environmentally friendly solutions.”
Thompson added, “I also want to do it myself, make environmentally friendly choices in my diet and my life.”
Sadeh recognizes that the older generation will be making the decisions over the next 10 years, but “this is our generation’s fight, it’s our future, so we need to speak up.”
“Prior generations have built an unstable foundation for us, but from that I feel empowered,” Thompson said. “We have to do something about it now and make the change.”
Autumn Perry, 18, one of the speakers at the rally, is a Vintage High senior and lacrosse player. She works, like her mother and brother, at Mid-City Nursery in American Canyon. “Horticulture and botany are really my passion,” she said. “I want to be a landscape architect.”
Perry’s introduction to climate change took place at Credo High School, which she attended for one semester. “The first thing we studied was climate change from several perspectives and I learned so much.”
She transferred to Vintage High and got involved in community actions through the Vintage High Sierra Club.
“Last year, we went to the Rise for Climate march in San Francisco and I felt a profound connection. We were at the front of the march and it was amazing to see so many people mobilized.”
Perry went to the sign-making party for Napa’s rally. When asked for a speaker from Vintage High, Perry volunteered. “Coming of age in these divisive and hateful times has really overwhelmed and frustrated my generation. We, in Napa, have felt climate catastrophe with the fires. I want to use my voice, working with others, to make Congress see that we need a change.”
It was 16-year-old Greta Thunberg from Sweden, standing outside her Parliament last August demanding that her government uphold commitments agreed to under the Paris Accords, who inspired students around the world to make their voices heard. The recent worldwide marches involved students from 112 countries, and are revealing the solidarity of young people concerned about the environment, showing that they aren’t alone. Here in Napa, we can be inspired by our students who aren’t afraid to speak up and demand climate action.