Thirteen year old George Hassall kindly agreed to an email interview about the February 15th Climate Strike, the upcoming (bigger) strike on March 15th, and what support adults could give. (See here for answers to the same questions from Emma Greenwood).
Was today bigger than you thought? What was your favourite thing about it?
The event was defo bigger than I expected; having watched the event build momentum on social media, I thought at best we would get a couple of hundred kids striking, but I think the reality was probably 1000+, which was incredible. I was there from early on and I really enjoyed that sense of anticipation as more and more people arrived. I described the Uni protesters as like The Cavalry arriving, when they marched in to St Peter’s Sq. There was this amazing atmosphere and when they led the crowd in chanting, “what do we want, climate justice, when do we want it, now”, I just thought WOW, this is brilliant!
My favourite thing about the protest, was just being with other like-minded young people, who were all as passionate as me about saving our precious planet. I felt like I was part of something monumental, that I could look back and think, ‘I was there!’
When did you first start learning about climate change – was it in school, from your parents? Did Greta Thunberg have a part to play?
I think we touched on climate change at Primary School, which was where I joined a gardening group; here we learnt how to be resourceful in the garden. Now I’m in Year 9 at High School we’ve studied it in science and geography and I’m part of the eco-group there. I was also lucky to attend an RHS Science Lecture about ‘Gardening in a changing climate’, where the lecturer, Professor David Wolfe, said, “Climate change will forever alter the fabric of our gardens, farms and natural landscapes with implications for our eco-systems” – I blogged about it at the time – you can read it here
I’ve loved nature and wildlife all my life and that’s definitely come from my mum & dad; we grow a lot of fruit, vegetables and herbs in our wildlife inspired garden and that’s one of the small steps we could all do, to lead a greener life. I was inspired to strike by the climate activist, Greta Thunberg. My Mum showed me a clip of her speech on the news and I was blown away; I was like, ‘I want to be a part of that’ and strike in solidarity with other young people.
What next – there’s the next Climate Strike on March 15, and then…?
Whilst there’s the Global Strike on 15th March, for me, it’s about how we can all make small changes to our lifestyles. I want to keep on raising awareness about growing your own food, wasting less food, and planting more trees for example. This contributes to a greener lifestyle, helps wildlife and makes you feel happy and healthy.
What sort of help/advice/support would you like from your parents, existing activists, adults? How is that best offered (I call it the POG problem – “Piss Off Grandpa/Grandma”).
The best support us kids could have from adults is to be taken seriously. There was a lot of negative comments on social media about kids striking so they could blag a day off school, that many of the kids who attended arrived in their parent’s SUV or that we wouldn’t swap our Ariana Grande gig for a climate change protest, well that couldn’t be further from the truth. There are kids who care, kids with compassion and kids who want to do something to protect our planet
Anything else you’d like to say?
I’d like to thank the organisers for doing such a great job of bringing such a monumental event together – it was totally epic and one I’ll never forget.
In May 2014, aged 8, George was crowned RHS Young School Gardener of the Year, a year later he was made the first RHS Young Ambassador in order to inspire other children to share his love of gardening and the natural world. Late December 2018George became an RSPB Nature Star in the RSPB’s Big Garden BirdWatch campaign.
George keeps a regularly updated blog visit greenfingeredgeorge.com