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WMU Rally Kicks Off Local Climate Strike

A group of mostly young people holds signs with messages about climate change.
Sehvilla Mann
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WMUK

More than a dozen Michigan communities were set to participate in a worldwide push for action on global warming today. Kalamazoo’s climate strike continues until 6 o’clock this evening at the Arcadia Creek Festival Place. But the day started with a rally at the flagpoles on Western Michigan University’s campus.

The crowd chanted “No system change, no climate change,” “No more coal, no more oil, keep our carbon in the soil,” “not much time left on the clock, corporations got to stop," and "out of the classroom, into the streets."

Alicia McCallum studies biology at WMU. She held a sign that said, “We literally can’t live anywhere else.”

McCallum says climate change is on her mind “all the time,” because “we’re going to die if we don’t start making a difference now.”

A sign on a child's little red wagon says, in colorful lettering "We are with Greta!"
Credit Sehvilla Mann / WMUK
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WMUK

McCallum said watching the Amazon rainforest burn was a turning point on an issue she’d already considered “pretty urgent.”

“That’s kind of the final straw for our climate,” she said. “The Amazon is the lungs of the earth” and a huge part of its biodiversity, she added.

Students from at least three high schools – including one in Muskegon – came to the rally at Western. Portage Northern student Olivia Bagley said she’ll have to serve three detentions since her parents didn’t excuse her absence from school, although they did say she could attend the strike. Bagley brought a sign.

Three young women stand on a platform. One is holding a bullhorn.
Credit Sehvilla Mann / WMUK
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WMUK
Three high school students from Muskegon address the crowd. One said she skipped cheering for a game to be at the rally. "Ten years from now, what's going to affect me is not that I did not cheer the Friday night game, but that I didn't do something about this earlier," she said.

“It says ‘detention isn’t the end of the world. Climate change is,’” she explained.

Emma Hilgart-Griff goes to Loy Norrix High School. She said she’s looking into holding weekly climate strikes with her classmates, and taking the protest to Lansing.

About a dozen people, several holding signs, at the rally.
Credit Sehvilla Mann / WMUK
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WMUK

“Michigan itself needs to make big changes on how we’re using our resources, what we’re doing with the Great Lakes, the carbon emissions we’re letting off,” she said.

Sehvilla Mann joined WMUK’s news team in January 2014 as a reporter on the local government and education beats. Before that she covered a variety of topics, including environmental issues, for Bloomington, Indiana NPR and PBS affiliates WFIU and WTIU. She’s also written and produced stories for the Pacifica Network and WYSO Public Radio in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Sehvilla holds a B.A. in French from Earlham College and an M.A. in journalism from Indiana University.
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