October 22, 2015

Climate Action Rally: Frankfort, KY

768      This past Wednesday, I attended a KSEC rally at the Old State capitol in Frankfort. As a Kentuckian and an environmentalist, I felt an impetus to push my government to represent my interests and so drove the extra few miles from Danville alongside a couple peers. Having prior education regarding Senator Mitch McConnell's coal affiliations and interference with the implementation of Obama's Clean Power Plan, I was prepared for likeminded (and similarly angsty) teens standing around and... maybe loudly expressing their disapproval? I imagined megaphones and rioting. Angry hippies. What I observed was perhaps different (less torches and pitchforks), but no less powerful. In this well-organized and substantially attended rally, the most dramatic tool employed was also the most empowering--the truth.

     This rally was to coincide with others like it across the nation to emulate the initial climate action march in NYC during this time last year. Yet in Frankfort, we did not gather solely to demand that our representatives act to prevent the climate change humans are catalyzing. We gathered also to demand that all youth have their voices uplifted and represented in our legislation as a source of intelligence and creativity. Too often students are overlooked, underestimated. But we will not be silenced, and so we speak in solidarity.

      The rally began with a well-seasoned singer from Centre College whose songs encouraged the crowd to stand together to demand environmental action and legislative receptivity. The event then included organized speakers from the KSEC ranks. College students, high schoolers, and even one brave third grader ascended to the microphone to lead rally protests, perform symbolic skits, speak of their own experiences of empowerment through KSEC, and to encourage all to feel enabled by the presence of likeminded individuals. The rally ended with an open mic--an invitation that was ravenously accepted by speaker after speaker moved by passion, frustration, optimism, or all. Throughout the duration, we were encouraged to share what had largely been ignored by our legislative representation. We were accepted and comforted with the social facilitation of equally concerned cohorts.

    As a result of the rally, I feel strong. I feel the strength of numbers, of scientific research, of emotion. I am reminded that we have the tools to mold our state and our world into one we would not mind spending the next few decades. In order to capitalize on the momentum built through this gathering, we must continue to call our representatives and demand they seriously consider the Economic Opportunity Act and honor our commitment to Obama's Clean Power Plan. We must lobby and spread awareness to our fellow Kentuckians. We cannot neglect our duty as a constituency and as the concerned inhabitants of a future presently being built.