Goshen College students joined the People’s Climate March to advocate for climate action on Sunday.
Students and Goshen community members, 23 in all, departed from campus on Friday at 12:30 p.m. and returned Tuesday at 10:00 a.m. During their time in New York, students joined the marchers for climate action, who passed through Goshen on Sept. 15, in participating in the People’s Climate March on Sunday and the Flood Wall Street movement Monday.
Isaiah Friesen, a sophomore, found comfort standing with the many that were making their voices heard. He felt reassured by those “who recognize that there's no such thing as a ‘climate change debate’-that it's an urgent problem long overdue for sustainable solutions.”
Nearly 400,000 people crowded the streets of New York during the People’s Climate March and the Flood Wall Street movement this past weekend. Protestors and marchers stood together, held signs high and chanted "This is what democracy looks like."
GC marchers, along with the marchers for climate action, were housed at the Greenpoint Reform Church in Brooklyn, N.Y. for the duration of their stay.
Friesen, along with other students, had the opportunity to attend a water blessing ceremony on Saturday, hosted by indigenous climate action leaders. During workshops preceding the march, representatives of indigenous communities directly affected by climate change shared their experiences with the marchers.
Kayla Gray, a sophomore, was moved by the presence of indigenous groups at the march and considered listening to these testimonies to be one of the most memorable parts of her trip.
“Hearing from people that are affected firsthand really opened my eyes,” she said. “It allowed me to realize that our capitalistic economy is responsible for causing all of these problems, and that something needs to change.”
Friesen, preceding the trip, admitted that he had some initial misgivings about burning the fossil fuels it took to get from Indiana to New York and back for the event and how people might view a busload of students contributing to climate change in order to participate in marches for climate action.
Despite this, Friesen felt that the environmental impact of transportation would be vastly outweighed by the actions marchers hoped Americans and world leaders would take from their efforts.
“Those 400,000 people would not have been heard the same way had they been scattered about their respective places around the globe,” he said.
Having participated in the 20th anniversary of the March on Washington right out of college, Gwen Gustafson-Zook, minister of worship on campus, reflected on her own experience marching for change when asked about her thoughts on the New York trip.
“There is something very powerful and energizing about being in a group that is diverse in terms of perspective and background, but also united in terms of recognizing that there are injustices that need to be tended to,” she said.
Friesen spoke of the importance of being part of such a historic event and how privileged he felt to have been a part of it.
“I take it as a sign of hope that that many people cared enough to take time and energy to make the trip to New York,” Friesen said.
Gray considered the experience to be one that would have great influence over her lifestyle.
“It definitely has changed my perspective on things; not just about climate action but about the way I’ll live and continue to live,” she said.
Students who weren’t able to attend the New York trip hosted a march for climate action in Goshen to raise awareness and promote an ecologically healthy community. The local march highlighted some of the issues that Goshen as a city needs to improve on. The march took place on Sunday, Sept. 21 at 2:00 p.m.