Andi Utter ’20 on her experience at the Climate Strike Rally

As an intern of the Office of Sustainability, and as a student of Dr. Concilio, Friday’s Climate Strike and events across the city of Austin were amazing to participate in.

First I volunteered to help set up a “parklet.” This is when you take what is normally a parking spot for cars and other vehicles and turn it into a community space for others to interact in. We helped set up a mini-golf course for the public to play in, and Great Outdoors donated a plethora of statues and plants for us to make the area much more festive!

Following the setup, my classmates and I went to the entrance of the capitol for the rally itself, which was led entirely by students. Students for Sustainability, our own club on campus, took part in organizing and being an integral part of the rally. The Wednesday before the strike they hosted a poster-making party outside of the campus bookstore, inviting all students to help decorate for the upcoming rally. Student speakers that I was able to stay for included a 7th grade student, who awed me with her courage to get up and speak at a rally, and a high school physics teacher, who spoke on love being the center of what we are doing here: love of the planet, clean water, clean air, animals, etc.

My takeaways from this event, and something that multiple speakers continued to emphasize, is that it is up to us to make this a public and political priority. If we stay silent on this issue and don’t use our rights to peaceful assembly and the right to vote in elections, we will let the current leadership bring this planet to the brink of destitution. Each of us makes a series of choices every day, and those choices can help or hinder our planet. This includes the foods and beverages we consume, products we wear, who we vote for (or do not vote for), and how we get to school and work. Let it more often than not be a good choice we make to better help this planet we all call home.

I also look forward to seeing what other events in Austin take place, and cannot wait to participate more with my fellow concerned peers. Students for Sustainability are the best on-campus way to plug into activism, but for the more daring individual, I also invite them to look at Extinction Rebellion, which does more non-violent direct action work. Either way, there are more organizations than I have fingers and toes for, and I encourage everyone on campus to get involved.

I look forward to seeing you at the next rally, fellow Hilltopper!