Missoula Climate Strike

Sophia Geranios, Reporter

Missoula youth from all 5 local highschools, as well as the U of M and Missoula College have helped to organize a week long climate strike to begin Friday the 20th. The strike was inspired by 16 year old Greta Thunburg, a climate activist from Sweden, who walked out of her own school last year to protest politicians’ lack of action on the ongoing climate crisis. The mission of the strike is to protest the education system, “Educating us for a future that doesn’t exist” as Greta phrased it.

Last Friday kicked off the strike with a 10am meeting at Caras park, and activities every day to keep the participants engaged and aware of the current issues surrounding the impending global warming threat; including a poetry slam, showings of various movies at the Roxy, lectures on campus, and a celebration at Free Cycles featuring performances from The Parliament, a collaboration of Missoulian artists, to wrap up a successful ending to the seven day event. 

Friday’s initial strike had a good turnout with a sizable amount of students, as well as a number of adults supporting them. The gathering in Caras Park was headlined by the youth that organized the protest. Each student participant from varying high schools had the chance to address the crowd with their take on the climate crisis. Some read poems, some read Greta Thunburg’s own speeches, and some gave original speeches. One of the speakers was  Hellgate Junior Rosie Powers. She has been working with the group to orchestrate the strike since August, joining a month after the group’s founding in July. Powers said her dad had been previously involved in planning the Missoula Climate Strike, so she had ties to the community already. After being invited to the meetings Powers says she “found a group of like minded people who were just as frustrated as her”. Powers will be striking the full week of the 23rd through the 27th. She, and the rest of the group joining in the strike believe that they will be better educated in facing real world issues by learning outside the classroom and protesting MCPS curriculum. Powers said “I‘m learning more this week than I would be in school, and it doesn’t matter in the long run if I miss some school if the planet is being killed by a system our public school pushes onto future generations.” The youth involved in this strike are fueled by anger and passion for the planet. The frustration caused by the generations before them sitting by and watching as global warming takes effect and the passion they feel from a childhood in Montana, being raised with and in nature. Olivia Vesovitch, another Hellgate junior involved in organizing the strike had an early connection with the outdoors, she recalled hiking with her mom, sister, and dogs by the creek. Vesovitch says wilderness conservation is important to her because “future generations of every living being deserve to enjoy the beauty that can only exist in nature”.

The Missoula Climate strike hopes to educate people, especially youth on what they can do to help stop the rapidly worsening global crisis facing us. They target youth in an attempt to educate them about what the school curriculum doesn’t. Some advice Rosie Powers has for the older generations is to “treat climate change like the crisis it is, and to listen to the scientific evidence surrounding the climate crisis.” Powers further states that “They need to acknowledge capitalism as the main perpetrators of climate change.” Missoula Climate Strike will continue one Friday a month until the MCPS curriculum is changed, and future undetermined demands are met.