-Bram Moreinis, Teacher, Burlington Tech Center
When Burlington School District teachers returned to work in August, after a year of training focused on Restorative Practice (building a culture of communication, empathy, and social justice), we took a sharp turn into “Run, Hide, Fight” — preparing classroom responses to active shooters in our school buildings.
The student-run climate crisis response movement started by Swedish high schooler Greta Thunberg is strongly related to both initiatives, as it turns out. Thunberg has been skipping school to organize this movement every Friday because she was moved by the injustice of the North growing rich off fossil fuel economies while the South suffers the effects. She believes the Climate Crisis is something we cannot run or hide from, and she decided to fight.
The “March for Our Lives” movement in response to the school shooter in Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida was also founded on that same raw “fight” response that moves our student (and adult) climate activists. They see is nowhere to run, and nowhere to hide. Both of these student movements express moral outrage at their elders who pursue business as usual in the face of existential threats to themselves and their children.
In a restorative circle recently, one of my students asked, “Why have we not been taught about the climate crisis in school?” Fortunately, the Burlington Educational Association surveyed its members about participating in Global Climate Strike Week and eighty percent said we approved taking the first day (Friday, September 20th) to teach our students about the Climate Crisis, whatever our assigned curricula may be.
This is the connection to Run, Hide Fight:
If I chose to “Run” from the truth that the future I am preparing my students for will bear no resemblance to the one they will actually face, I would not read the scientific predictions, and instead look for opinion pieces that say climate change is natural, has nothing to do with human activity, and cannot be affected by us. That is madness.
If I try to “Hide” from that knowledge — knowing the scientific predictions and believing them, but living as if I have no choice but to pretend I do not know — then my moments of obliviousness will be punctuated by depression with each new superstorm, megadrought, wildfire, refugee crisis, mass famine, etc. That is despair.
I choose “Fight.” I made that choice when I met some teenage Sunrise Movement organizers this summer. I felt the power of their outrage as well as their hope that they could make a difference. They demanded that we adults do something, and I decided I would. I no longer despair: I just do the next thing to help this movement. That is integrity.
If you want to join fellow fighters in organizing for the many rounds of the long bout ahead, I hope you will take Friday, September 20th, off from work and march to City Hall for a noon rally. This is a global movement (see http://globalclimatestrike.net) with a strong Vermont presence (see http://vermontclimatestrike.org).
If you want to be inspired by area students who are ready to lead their elders, the Main Street Landing has generously donated the use of their 200-seat FilmHouse for a “Teach-In” where students will learn how to fight and start organizing together, before and after the march to City Hall. It starts at 8:30 am and runs to 4:00pm.
This will be a long fight. Marching and chanting for a day will be exciting and new to many people, but the Climate Crisis needs much more from everyone. To quote a Sunrise teen: Join me and fight for the future so we can all have one!