Some thoughts on what the climate strikers and their allies and supporters could do to sustain morale and momentum after the May strike
On Friday May 24th the next climate strikes happen around the UK, and presumably the world too.
There’s plenty that adults in Greater Manchester can and should do to support the efforts of the young people (but that’s another blog post) .
I for one don’t know what is happening after that (1). I think that’s a key question that the strikers have to ask themselves (and I hope/suspect they’ve already started dong that).
I hope that they find time, energy and bandwidth amidst studying for their courses, being teenagers (and younger) (2).
Meanwhile, we adults/old farts have to ask ourselves what WE could propose, what WE could do to offer support to the strikers (3) So, this below is my attempt at sketching out some of the things that adults (whether parents or not) could do locally between June and the end of August.
It’s based in part on a longer blog post that I’ll put up soon-ish.
To start at the simplest level of the average supportive parents.
1. Support your child/children to get together with other climate strikers, perhaps set up a park meet-up on the weekend and try and get parents along too. What do your children want you to do? Perhaps they need your support to be more hands off, to let them get on with it, in which case look at what you could do as adults. Talk about what skills and resources you have, how you can support, what you need to find out. Contact councillors, ask friends to sign the petition….
2. Or if you are already involved in youth groups or climate group, then what about organising a series of meet ups or workshops etc etc. What about having workshops to help the young people amplify their voices? Using photography, blogging? Podcasts and poetry.
3. One thing is to start finding out now the specifics of what sorts of things the young people think that they need. From the interviews with them so far, there have been a couple of themes –
I would like to have some more books about climate change inside libraries to teach people things they don’t already know / I’d like them to make information child friendly because some of the information I found talked down to me and other information I couldn’t understand the language and had to ask for help to know what it was talking about.
So, there is a job of work to be done here, where adults who write could submit their work to kids who could then ‘vet’ the efforts, suggest improvements before final versions were made.
4. Might it be possible to create opportunities for young people (and their parents?) to meet and get to know each other without the stress/adrenaline/noise of a strike, nvda, police and all that that entails. There are lots of venues which claim to be supportive of the strikers (and a subset of those actually are, and would surely be up for hosting regular-ish get togethers). There needn’t be any particular agenda, but surely if the attendees decided they wanted a guest speaker to come along and give some perspectives on, say, climate science, or social movements, or whatever, then adults should be able to find some people, no?
And given that there is going to be some very nice weather (funny how the warm summers keep getting warmer…) then who actually needs an indoor city centre venue – why not use the parks and green spaces that haven’t yet been paved over/flogged off to developers?
5. Sympathetic adults could help young people organise workshops around poetry, fiction writing, song writing on climate change. Indeed, how come there isn’t already a Manchester-based writing competition (fiction and non-fiction) for young people around climate change and what means to them? With best entries published in a book, for example?
6. More ambitiously, I personally think there is scope for a” climate academy”, held at a sympathetic school , where at the end of the day those attending get a certificate of “carbon citizenship” that actually meant something. Such a curriculum might involve people watching short videos beforehand and then coming ready to do activities around…
- Climate science in a nutshell and how to explain it to someone who knows nothing
- Mocking climate denialism into irrelevance
- Spotting false friends who claim to be on your side but are actually advocating business-as-usual, and what to say and do in response.
- Designing and holding decent public meetings
- Public speaking for beginners/advanced
- The real history of social movements and how they have worked in the past
- What was promised but is not actually happening in (Greater) Manchester, 2009-2019
- What COULD be happening in Manchester 2020 onwards
- Who are the local politicians (council, MPs) and what are their positions on climate change
- Your rights when dealing with the police
- Emotional support for dealing with burnout/fear etc
What ELSE should/could adults be doing to help the climate strikers? Please make suggestions in the comments box.
(1) I hope to Gaia not a march in London. Why? I have my reasons, but that’s another blog…
(2) These are KIDS we’re talking about here. If the adults hadn’t absolutely screwed this up, they could actually get on with being kids, but instead they are having to be the adults on the planet. It’s embarrassing. Of course, all over the planet, there are kids working in slavery conditions, dying of easily preventable diseases, starving… but that’s another blog.
(3) Whether the strikers feel minded to take that is another question. It’s not as if we old farts have a whole lotta credibility or moral authority at present, is it?