She’s Just Starting
Earlier this year all around the globe young voices and activists gathered together for the Youth Climate Strike. Created by young activist Greta Thunberg, the Youth Climate Strike welcomed the voices of many who cared about the earth and who demanded are demanding change. We tapped two of these young voices from the Los Angeles organization who helped create and plan the LA Youth Climate Strike. Below meet Arielle Martinez Cohen a bright and talented individual who shares her real and raw feelings on what exactly went down before, during and after the strike and how nothing is going to stop the younger generation from standing up for what they believe in.
Arielle Martinez Cohen: Singer/Songwriter/Activist
Greta Thunberg is becoming a household name. She is the 16-year-old founder of the Youth Climate Strike movement and was recently nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. When she speaks, she whispers, making the world’s most powerful leaders lean in to hear her words.
My name is Arielle Martinez Cohen, a 17-year-old lead organizer for the Youth Climate Strike in Los Angeles, and the Partnerships Director for the youth-led organization, Zero Hour. When I first heard about the climate strikes, I was excited. I knew that this idea could have the power to change the world. It’s simple, yet powerful. So, I joined the Slack Workspace (for those who don’t know, Slack is a LIFESAVING app for organizers/businesses), and got to work. I had never met any of the people in the group chat before, but we all got along really well, which made organizing the strike a breeze… well, sort of.
We actually had several setbacks along the way. First, going to school for eight hours a day does not make it easy to organize an event from scratch in two and a half weeks. In addition, all of the organizers live in different parts of Los Angeles, making it difficult to meet in person. Since funding was short, we didn’t get a stage or permit until the day before the rally and on the day of the rally, we were met with an anti-government group that was trying to yell over all of our chants.
But, enough about the negatives. While the organizing was stressful, the hard work did pay off. There was one point during the rally when a huge mass of young people came marching into the South Lawn of City Hall, holding their signs above their heads. It was like everything was happening in slow motion, all of the Los Angeles organizers jumping up and down, huge smiles on our faces, cheering like crazy. We were expecting about 200 people---we got over 1,000. And we’re continuing to grow.
Some of the things that I’m proud of:
Our sound system was powered by solar panels.
Our cardboard signs and media passes were compostable.
About 1.5 million students from 123 countries participated.
The team and I are sticking together after the strike. Several more students have joined us, and we’re in the process of planning other actions. On Tuesday, March 19th, we already used our voices to help the City of Los Angeles establish the world’s first Climate Emergency Mobilization Department and to pass a Green New Deal proposal.
I’m also a singer/songwriter, and at the rally, I sang an original song called “The Fire.” One of the lines is “Green, everything is green. It grows through the cracks and it grows in between.” This perfectly captures how I feel about the youth climate movement. We are flourishing. We aren’t going away. We are Re-Generation Z.
Photo Credit to the Owner