Combating Climate Change

Clara Wicklund is a recent graduate of Gustavus Adolphus College St. Peter, Minnesota. At Gustavus, she was the co-president of Divestment Campaign as well as the campus contact for the Save the Boundary Waters Campaign. While abroad in New Zealand, she worked with Generation Zero as one of the main organizers of the Wellington People’s Climate March. In the following interview, she shares some of her experiences and thoughts on the Wellington march, the 2017 People’s Climate March, and climate change in general.

1. Describe the process of planning the Wellington People’s Climate March. What was most challenging? What was most rewarding?

ClaraClimateMarchClara: Organizing the march was exhausting, but so worth every second of it when thousands of people showed up on the steps of Parliament. Organizing something like a protest is really challenging work, because it is very emotional. It is really hard to get the cold shoulder from people when you put so much energy into fighting for an issue you deeply believe is critical to address.

I think the most challenging part of organizing the march was the ever-looming question of accountability. People really want to be a part of a meaningful cause and help out, but finding a way to engage those people and hold them accountable can be really tricky. People are busy, have different skills and cannot always commit. I found it helpful to provide a list of ways they could help prepare for the march such as flyering, banner making, taking part in a demonstration, leading a march block etc., and then personally check back in with them. When you have other people counting on you and checking in, it shows they care and I found that to be a motivator for people.

2. Why do you choose to combat climate change?

Clara: An issue like climate change is enormous and encompasses so many other issues of race, class, sex, gender, and geography. Because of all the layers within the issue of climate change, it is often difficult to pinpoint why each person is affected by it and should care. But finding relatability and human connection is key. We need to be focusing on what connects us as humans and living creatures, not what polarizes us. Climate change should not be a political issue, but there are many people who are not past that yet. If we can focus on what connects us as opposed to what divides us, we are headed in the right direction.

3. What were some of your favorite moments during the climate march?

Clara: I think one of the coolest moments of the March was the moment of silence right before we began marching. When I went to the People’s Climate March in New York we had a moment of silence to acknowledge frontline communities and all of the people who’ve lost their lives to Climate disasters or have been severely affected by climate change. The feeling of being surrounded by thousands of people in absolute silence is one of the most amazing things I’ve experienced. Following the moment of silence, the marchers erupted into yelling and cheering. It was the biggest “Go Team” cheer I’ve ever heard and was a fantastic way to begin the march.

4. On a personal level, what does marching for climate change mean to you?

Clara: The most rewarding part of organizing the march were the human interactions I had and connections I made. There are so many amazing people out there! I think everyone should try organizing for a cause at some point in your life, because it is an opportunity to discover the power humans have when they get together. It was so fun to see the vast diversity of people who showed up to march and the interactions between people. There was feeling of, “I respect you and I’ve got your back.” Of course, there is so much more work that needs to happen after a march to keep the momentum and dialogue going, but these actions are essential to movement building to energize and unite people, and apply political pressure.  

5. Why do you think others should participate in the upcoming People’s Climate March?

Clara: I fight for climate justice, because I know we have the technology, resources and brainpower to be doing things differently. We have no right to trash the planet that’s given us so much and there are people and living things suffering disproportionately because of corporate self-interest and unwillingness to adopt new technology and ethical practices. We can do it! We have everything we could ever need and now it’s about pressuring entities of political and economic power to change.

The Minneapolis People’s Climate March begins Saturday, April 29 at 2:30 at the US Federal Courthouse (300 4th Street). If you are not currently in Minnesota but would still like to march, visit the following link to find a march near you:

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