FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Friday, March 10, 2023
Ashland Students Leave School to Demand Climate Action
Youth lead climate march and rally; announce local campaign for electrification
[Ashland, OR] — On Friday, March 10th, hundreds of Ashland High School students walked out of school and urged adults, local elected officials, and community leaders to follow youth leadership and take action to address the climate crisis. Students marched to Ashland Downtown Quad, where they were joined by dozens of community members for a Youth Climate Rally with speeches, and performances—and the official launch of the Ashland Youth for Electrification Campaign.
“Seeing rivers dammed, fish die, and fires spread in California and Oregon; the climate crisis is not a phrase I can define, but an experience I live everyday,” said Te Maia Wiki, Ashland High School Senior. “Youth have grown up with the impacts of climate change as our reality, and we’re tired of it. We’re asking adults to make decisions that will protect our futures and future generations.”
“As an Indigenous person, I understand the health of the land is intrinsically linked to the health and well being of the people. Colonialism has disrupted that relationship, and we need to change the way we treat the planet, especially on a policy level,” said Keeya Wiki, Ashland High School Freshman.
The Ashland Youth for Electrification Campaign, organized by the youth-led Rogue Climate Action Team (RCAT), urges Ashland City Council to pass an ordinance that would require all new buildings to be fully electric. This campaign is a next step for Ashland to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and improve community health, building upon the Ashland Climate and Energy Action Plan that other youth organized to pass nearly 5 years ago to this day, in 2017. RCAT is calling on adults in the community to follow the leadership of Ashland youth, and act now to pass the ordinance for electrification.
“The City of Ashland needs to pass an ordinance that requires all new buildings in our community to be 100% electric for the climate, public health, and affordability. If we don’t act now, it will be more costly for our community down the line when retrofits are necessary,” said Anya Moore, Ashland High School Senior.
“A lot of leaders look at young people and call us inspiring, which sometimes feels like a pat on the back, rather than really listening to our demands and listening to us.” said Tate Oliva, St. Mary’s High School Senior. “We want to see real changes in action and policy.”
“By walking out, we’re uniting our community. We’re all working towards solutions that improve the well-being and health for people in the Rogue Valley–especially people like youth, low-income, and Black, Indigenous, and communities of color who have been disproportionately affected by the climate crisis,” said Kena Robershaw, Ashland High School Junior.
Members from RCAT’s Ashland Youth for Electrification campaign will give testimony at the Ashland City Council Meeting on March 21st at 6:00 PM. Youth leaders are calling on people in Ashland to get involved in the campaign by signing the petition and joining the city council meeting to speak out about why it’s crucial for the city to transition off of using fracked gas in new buildings.