By John Larson
A young Tacoma resident organized a local effort that was part of an international call to action regarding climate change on March 15. The Youth Climate Strike here took place from noon and 2 p.m. at Wright Park. It drew approximately 300 people, a mixture of adults and many students who left their schools to march on adjacent streets and gather in the park.
The protestors chanted a number of slogans, such as: “When the people rise up, the power comes down.” A number of people brought signs, many of them expressing opposition to the liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant that Puget Sound Energy wants to construct on the Tideflats. “No LNG in the 253,” was another slogan chanted by the protestors.
The event was organized by Theo Sullivan, a 5th-grade student at Washington Elementary School in Proctor District. He said he was impressed by the turnout. “I expected a lot less people,” he remarked.
Sullivan was inspired by the actions of Greta Thunberg, a young girl in Sweden who held a three-week strike from school to demand that her government take action on climate change. Her movement has spread around the planet. This has led to the resignation of the environment minister in Belgium and caused the Australian prime minister to criticize the strikes in parliament.
In February, Sullivan posted a video online to draw attention to the planned protest. He also reached out to local media outlets, including newspapers and radio stations. Two events were held to make signs used in the demonstration.
Sullivan’s mother, Grace Sullivan, has been very supportive of the effort. Currently working on a bachelor’s degree in molecular biology and biochemistry at the University of Puget Sound, she said conversations about climate change around the dinner table in her home also helped inspire her son. Sullivan and his older brother, Titus, are well versed on the topic. Their mom discussed how Theo learned about the girl in Sweden. In November, he began holding a demonstration in front of Tacoma Municipal Building on Fridays.
“We want people to reduce their use of greenhouse gasses,” Sullivan said. He also expressed support for the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.