Youth Activism in a Growing City

— Written By Luke Shealy
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2019 was undoubtedly the year of the climate strike. Every month students would strike in the name of the climate emergency. This piece comes from a student in Greenville NC about his experience organizing some of these strikes.

young people protesting

Youth Activism in a Growing City 

My name is Abe Gobellan and I am a 17-year-old climate activist from Greenville, North Carolina. Today I will be talking about my activism and the city I do it in.

The first climate-related event I attended was the global climate strike in March of 2019. I attended because I wanted to raise awareness on the issue and get involved within the climate movement. I have never been passionate about the climate crisis but rather scared and this is why I decidedsign to take further action. The climate crisis will intersect with everything I know and love. It will affect our oceans, my home, and our future. But some people are already seeing the effects of the climate crisis right now. Wildfires,  powerful hurricanes, and extreme weather are all examples of the climate crisis. When things like this happen in my area, POC communities are affected the most. They get the most flooded, most damaged, and most deaths.

I have always had an interest in organizing and advocating for many issues, but activism isn’t really common here. However, after the global climate strike in March of 2019, I reached out to  North Carolina Youth Climate Strike and got involved as an organizer and city lead for Greenville. Being the only organizer here in Greenville was difficult because I was brand new into the movement. After spending a whole day walking and talking to many people around uptown Greenville, I still couldn’t get any permits for my event. Instead of coming home from the disappointment, I came back to the support of my NCYCS members. The support and love from climate organizations is always there and it’s one of the reasons why I love being involved.

protest sign

In the summer of 2019, I got involved with FridaysForFuture USA and Earth Uprising because I wanted to get involved on a higher level. I became a city coordinator for Greenville, NC with Earth Uprising. Then  I participated in an Earth Uprising campaign called “ClimateStrikeSummer” where we striked for 8 weeks and each week was a different theme that caused the climate crisis. Each Friday when I was striking, I was usually alone at city hall. Sometimes it was discouraging but I knew I was apart of a global community by doing this. The reactions I would get would vary to people giving me high fives to people giving me not so pleasant faces.

Being one of the only activists in your area can be hard and make it hard to advocate and organize. Feeling discouraged and lost within the climate movement is also big because you feel like the work you are doing doesn’t matter and you question yourself like “ is this even working?”, but it does matter and it IS working. For the youth activist who are in this situation, we see you and it takes time for change.