People from all over San Luis Obispo County gathered outside the county courthouse to take part in the second global climate strike Friday, Sept. 27.
San Luis Obispo’s strike was part of a global day of action in which over 6 million people participated in rallies across 123 countries, all participating for the cause of bringing an end to climate change. The San Luis Obispo strike included about 500 people of all ages.
“[Climate change] is the most urgent crisis of our time, and climate change is happening right now,” San Luis Obispo climate strike organizer Carmen Bouquin said. “We’re seeing it in the Central Valley, and in frontline impacted communities by climate change … and we need to stop it and halt it.”
The coalition of various environmental groups — the SLO County Youth for Environmental Action, the Sunrise Movement and the Sierra Club’s Santa Lucia chapter — among others organized the event to get the community engaged.
“Community involvement is mandatory,” San Luis Obispo Mayor Heidi Harmon said. “The climate crisis is already and will continue to impact literally every living thing on this planet, so it’s going to demand that all of us take a stand on this issue.”
Harmon said coming together as a community “doesn’t have to mean activism in the way that we’re seeing it tonight,” but does require people paying attention, getting educated and getting involved.
One instance of how community engagement influenced the community was the “Community Choice Energy” program in cities around San Luis Obispo County. The program “brings local control freedom of choice and competition into the electricity marketplace,” according to the City of San Luis Obispo website.
Currently, San Luis Obispo is one of the nation’s leading cities in going green and is hoping to reach its carbon neutrality goal by 2035. However, citizens are fighting to get Community Choice Energy at a county level.
“We hope that the county joins us in this movement and [in] telling our story in a way that more communities hear it and are inspired by it to take action, get involved and join us in our carbon neutrality goal of 2035,” Harmon said.
The coalition of environmental groups urged citizens to go to the county board of supervisors’ meeting Tuesday, Oct. 1 at 1:3o p.m. The board will be reviewing a presentation on a study of the Community Choice Energy program.
“If we get to pass it at county level, communities like mine — Garden Farms, that is just outside of Santa Margarita — would have the opportunity to get rebates on their energy bills and also carbon-free energy, which would put the money back into clean energy,” Rita Casaverde, another organizer of the event, said.
The San Luis Obispo climate strike is a prime example of how something starting off so small by “sending out one email to different organizations” can turn into something so large, according to Casaverde.
“I hope that there is a lot of inspiration to help coming from tonight,” Casaverde said. “We think that you can be inspired, you can be hopeful, and you can look at the new generations and say they’re gonna make the change, but it’s not enough.”