On Saturday, January 26th, in the Valley Hi-North Laguna library community room, a small but dedicated group of people met in support of the Sunrise Movement. The Sunrise Movement, as stated on their website, is “a movement to stop climate change and create millions of jobs in the process.”

The Sunrise Movement started in 2017 and has a vision in mind of getting elected officials to take climate change seriously on their platform and place it at the forefront. A big part of reaching their goal and changing policy on a grand scale is catching the attention of said officials, so Sunrise is gathering thousands of willful, driven young people from around the country to promote the movement and  put a stop to harmful policies that perpetuate climate change.

With several hubs stationed in several cities around the country, Sacramento is starting to play its role in the movement with facilitator Dennessa Atiles, who founded this city’s hub. She elaborates on why the organization is youth led by saying, “They’re the ones that most have to endure it. As people age, they have less fight, less skin in the game. So it’s geared towards young people to not only engage them in policy change but to say, “Hey, this is our future, and this is our legacy.”

When asked why Sacramento is a good place to run the movement, she explains, “Sacramento is a great place because we are the capital of California, and California is the most populous state in our nation. It’s the 4th largest economy in the world. And being situated at the capital gives us unprecedented access to legislators that have the ability to affect change on a national scale. When things happen in California, other states tend to follow.”

The topic at the forefront of discussion during the meeting consisted of the urgent necessity to have more people- especially young people- take a lead in Sacramento’s hub, and overall ways climate change has badly affected the Earth. For example, according to Nasa, “Glaciers have shrunk, ice on rivers and lakes is breaking up earlier, plant and animal ranges have shifted and trees are flowering sooner.”

Climate change affects everyone and it’s important to get everyone involved, but we hear from Atiles on why doing something to spark change is personal to her. She says, “I am Puerto Rican and after the devastating effects of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, I lost two family members. I’ve been a climate change advocate since I was in high school many years ago, and when Puerto Rico was underwater essentially, I lost several family members and I saw how little our government did and how little it seemed that most of the legislators cared and did anything about it. I was really incensed, and so when I found out about Sunrise Movement, I thought it’s an amazing opportunity to engage people in a way that’s really gonna connect to our communities directly.”

To learn more about the Sunrise Movement and to get involved in the fight to prevent climate change, you can visit their website: https://www.sunrisemovement.org