The climate strike movement has been snowballing right across the world over the past few months. What started as the solitary action of a Swedish teenager has lit a fire across the entire globe.The global map of events taking place is truly astounding. Well over 500 events across nearly 60 countries are planned – and counting. Is this the moment the world has been waiting for, and many of us who have been working in this area have been yearning for? It seems the world is finally waking up to the tragedy on the horizon. And because it is children who are leading this planetary awakening, there is precious little chance that it will go back to sleep soon.
Here in Ireland, from a rather slow start, people are waking up too. Over the past few weeks the level of media coverage on the strikes has grown continually – from my own opinion piece in the Irish Times, to a weekend feature by Kevin O’Sullivan. There have been features too in Green News, the Independent and RTE website. This week the student leaders in Ireland took their message and demands straight to parliament. Ahead of this, the Taoiseach appeared to come out in support of the school strikes in Leaders Questions. Tomorrow they will take it to the nation live on TV on the Late Late Show. It is fantastic to see Ireland’s most well known presenter, Ryan Tubrity, continuing to engage on climate change since we spoke back in February about Climate Generation.
Top Tips: Making a Splash on 15 March
Many people have been asking me whether they can get involved in the global strike – and what they should do and how best to prepare. Here is my top tips from my climate strike on what has worked well – and how to make an impact. This applies whether you are 10000 people or just on your own!
A lot of this depends, of course, on who is striking and how many are expected. Bigger events require permits and police should be informed. Smaller local events may not require prior approval, though it is always best to check locally.
Tip 1: Location, Location, Location
Find a public space which is ideally symbolic for decision-makers. For example, it could be a county hall, a political party office, a government department. Think about foot fall – are many people passing by? Ideally you need a steady foot fall to attract attention. Also thing about a busy junction – could you get your message safely over to drivers? One thing that has had a big impact is signage inviting drivers to beep for climate action. Vehicles beeping generates a sense of instant impact – message heard! Of course, it is important to ensure safety first and avoid situations where people might inadvertently distract drivers or step out into traffic.
Tip 2: Signage and Slogans
You need to have great signs and slogans prepared in advance. You will find loads of ideas here. Think about what materials you use – portable and light! A simple sign with black on white is very effective, as are simple drawings of the earth at risk. Have a sign making party and invite friends and neighbours to join in. Avoid pale colours and busy signs as people can’t read them. Make reusable signs if you can – these protests are not just for one day! My sign has been used 15 times so far and counting!
Tip 3: Social media
Social media is absolutely key to making a splash. Our little Dublin strikes of 100 people have reached global audiences of hundreds of thousands thanks to facebook and twitter! You need to use the correct hashtags: #FridaysForFuture #ClimateStrike – and then whatever others you like. Short videos with chanting or singing go viral quicker than static photos. Videos should be less than 20 secs. Think of any cute or funny elements – we had a dog doing a strike a few weeks back and that got loads of hits with #climatedog!
Privacy is really important here – and be sure to ask people for permission to put their picture on social media in advance. If children are involved you need to also ask permission from teachers or parents. Take names and twitter/FB accounts of anyone who would like a copy of the photo.
Tip 4: Local links and media
Once you have your location and time, set about connecting locally to get others involved. Twitter and facebook are great for this – tagging local schools, youth clubs, businesses, media, politicians… watch them all get involved! Our local strike in Maynooth made front page of the local gazette which every householder receives and reads!
Tip 5: Be consistent
Once you decide on your location and time, stick to it. You will be amazed how many people just drop by! You can log your event on www.fridaysforfuture.org map. That way everyone can know about it.
You can also set up a Facebook Event independently and share on the local climate strike group for your country. In Ireland there are several groups, but the one I maintain is Climate Strike Ireland – #FridaysForFuture.
Tip 6: Set some ground rules
As protests and strikes grow, this can be tricky, but it is really important. One rule we have set for the weekly strikes in Dublin is no official banners. So we advise people not to use banners for organisations or political parties. We are all there in our individual capacity and not representing an organisation. This makes the event non-partisan and open to all.
Tip 7: Don’t wait, just do it!
Why wait until someone else starts a #FridaysForFuture protest when you can do it yourself! What is stopping you? You can be part of something great on teh 15 March and beyond.