Hundreds of thousands of people gathered on Sept. 21 in over 150 countries to speak out for climate change awareness. Among the locations hosting marches were Ithaca and New York City.
The annual People’s Climate March’s goal, according to the Climate March’s official website, is to mobilize people and bring awareness to the global issue of climate change by building a better environment for the future.
Jeff Bercuvitz, president of Sparks: The Center for Leadership, Innovation and Community, opened the local event, which began outside of the Presbyterian Church on the corner of Cayuga and Court streets, by speaking to the approximately 200 people in attendance about the reasons for marching.
“We come together with a genuine feeling of possibility to say we’re waking up and we’re going to make some noise,” Bercuvitz said.
Bercuvitz blew a Jewish Shofar horn, which is traditionally used for religious purposes, to initiate the beginning of the event and said it is important for people to reflect on why they are marching.
“In some way, we’re trying to fully awaken to climate change and what it could mean for us together instead of waiting for intervention from beyond,” Bercuvitz said.
Brad McFall, an Ithaca Climate March co-coordinator along with Margaret McCasland, said in a press release he wanted to be a part of the Climate March by hosting a march.
“The eco-justice movement, a faith-based combination concern for ecology and justice nurtured in Ithaca 40 years ago, has found its lasting aim in bringing about a permanent response to climate change,” McFall said. “The cooperation of so many faiths and with the public support witnessed at the March really does help to demonstrate that the journey to bring about climate justice may become finished one day not too far in the future.”
Gabriella Ruocco, a senior and social studies teaching major at Ithaca College, said she spent most of Sept. 21 traveling to and from New York City for the Climate March and said it was worth the distance to be a part of something global.
“It was honestly so beautiful and empowering to see so many people from many walks of life fighting for a common goal,” Ruocco said. “It is easy to feel like you are alone in this movement, but the march definitely reaffirms how many people actually care.”
Marie DeMott Grady, a senior nursing student at Tompkins Cortland Community College, said although she couldn’t attend the New York City Climate March to walk with the other approximately 400,000 other people marching, she was happy there was an event in Ithaca to attend.
“I think it’s the most important issues we should be concerned about, so I was excited that something was happening in Ithaca,” Grady said.
Grady said it’s about time people start realizing climate change is a serious issue instead of pretending it is something they cannot change.
Tom Moore, a senior in religious studies at Cornell University, led the procession in Ithaca while holding the main banner and said he was glad climate change is an issue more people are talking about.
“I think it’s always good to raise awareness, and it’s a message I can get behind, so I wanted to show some solidarity,” Moore said.
The march in Ithaca concluded at the Presbyterian Church on Cayuga Street, where participants and community representatives continued to discuss climate change, sang songs and read a statement by Barbara Lifton, New York state assemblywoman for the 125th district, which includes Ithaca.
The statement said people should not have to become bystanders of pollution from big corporations that don’t consult the community.
Ruocco said caring about the future of the earth is something that should be a priority for everyone.
“You do not need to be a radical hippie to care about this movement,” Ruocco said. “You just need to be a person on this earth who wants the human race to keep living on this beautiful planet. In order to change everything, we need everyone.”