A group of Cloverdale High School (CHS) students spent their lunch break on Friday, Sept. 20 standing on North Cloverdale Boulevard trying to call attention to climate change.
The students were joined by local residents and members of Cloverdale’s Indivisible chapter, many of whom showed up to Kleiser Park carrying signs calling on the public to acknowledge the severity of climate change.
CHS seniors Paula Toledo and Elizabeth Ruiz organized the school’s climate strike after hearing that both Santa Rosa and Ukiah were participating in the Global Climate Strike.
“For me, it was important to start this because it (climate change) is noticeable,” Ruiz said. “Sometimes the sky is gray because there’s a fire somewhere and the fire started because it’s getting too hot. Sometimes we can’t swim in rivers that we used to. All of it is always in the news — it gets overlapped and we start focusing on something else. It shouldn’t be like that — this isn’t a race issue, this isn’t something where only one group can focus on it and fix it, this is all of us. If one of us sinks, all of us sink. This is our planet and we only have one that we can live on, and we have to take care of it.”
The Global Climate Strike, while led by youth across the world, doesn’t just involve younger people and tackling issues related to climate change isn’t a task for just youth, Ruiz said. Rather, she believes that everyone — young, old and in between — should be responsible for taking care of Earth and “leaving the world in a better state than it is in.”
The event was the first of CHS’ Environmental Club, which formed earlier this year. The idea to start the club came about two years ago, Toledo said.
In addition to drawing attention to climate change, Ruiz said that there are many things people can do to help prevent climate change from getting worse.
“There are many things you can do — voting, because voting is what gets change done in terms of laws and what happens on a global scale; knowing where your resources come from, where water comes from, where food comes from and being educated on those sorts of things.”
Overall, Toledo and Ruiz both think that one of the most vital components to taking action against this issue is staying educated in regard to how to best recycle, or how to adopt eco-friendly practices.
“Our plan to start an Environmental Club started at the beginning of sophomore year when Liz noticed that our school didn’t recycle properly,” she said. “She contacted Recology and they got recycling bins and after that we started coming up with the idea for our club.”
Both students were surprised and delighted that the event received support from the local community.
“I hope that our community keeps supporting us,” Toledo said.
Toledo and Ruiz were both encouraged by the turnout and expressed an interest in holding similar events.
“I hope that the community knows that the youth cares because if we didn’t do this, the community wouldn’t have known,” Ruiz said. During the event, some attendees said that they had been contemplating going to Santa Rosa for a climate strike in Old Times Square, but decided to stay in Cloverdale when they found out about the strike organized by the students.
“It’s nice that all of these community members came here today,” Ruiz said, gesturing around her to the attendees. “It really shows, at least for me, that it’s not all ‘older people versus young people.’ It’s nice to see that that doesn’t matter when it comes to climate and what’s happening. It’s nice to see all of us connecting and being a community.”