The Sunrise Movement

I arrived at the address just as another young couple was knocking on the door.

“Are you here for the Sunrise thing too?” I asked.

They smiled but were spared response when a twenty-something guy opened the door, leaning out: “Sunrise Movement viewing party? Come on in.”

Sunrise is the young people’s climate action movement. It’s led and mostly peopled by high school and college students. The ask? Sweeping climate-based reform for the United States that transforms the economy.

Specifically, Sunrise is organizing for the Green New Deal. According to sunrisemovement.org, the Green New Deal’s goals are:

To achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions through a fair and just transition for all communities and workers;
To create millions of good, high-wage jobs and ensure prosperity and economic security for all people of the United States;
To invest in the infrastructure and industry of the United States to sustainably meet the challenges of the 21st century;
To secure clean air and water, climate and community resiliency, healthy food, access to nature, and a sustainable environment for all people of the United States for generations to come; and
To promote justice and equity by stopping current, preventing future, and repairing historic oppression of indigenous peoples, communities of color, migrant communities, de-industrialized communities, depopulated rural communities, the poor, low-income workers, women, the elderly, the unhoused, people with disabilities, and youth.

My take? It’s the first American reaction on the scale of the climate change crisis that’s being taken seriously.

I showed up at the viewing party to get an idea of the plans, the urgency, and the local community.

The viewing party was at somebody’s house– our host looked up to smile welcome as we came in, then returned to hooking up his laptop to the big screen.

The kitchen table was collecting snacks– veggies, homemade cookies, Tupperware containers appearing as guests began to fill the room. The three couches were full, so I set myself up on the floor, chatting with an older guy who’s also involved in transit reform.

Our viewing party was one of three in the immediate vicinity, and it was standing room only as people continued arriving– we were watching a video panel call, broadcast nationwide.

There were three speakers: Sunrise’s head of training, who took the call from her dorm room; one of the early leaders, who has deferred college for a year in order to devote his time to leading Sunrise in Massachusetts; and Naomi Klein, public intellectual and activist.

They spoke for an hour, describing the need to get climate change as a central topic of the presidential debates in the next election, outlining a plan of mounting pressure on representatives, and urging us to hold our reps accountable for our visions for a better future.

When the call stopped, the room buzzed with ideas: plans to visit offices, art builds for sit-ins, ways to reach out to each other. It’s electric to be in the room– an issue that has been stagnant for so long is finally seeing change, and we feel it.

Groups like this are meeting all around the country: making a plan, taking power. Strangers, introducing themselves to each other to make common cause.

Sunrise is a youth-led movement. They’ve grown from thirtyish college and high school students to a national movement of thousands. It’s Do Something in action, as people realize that the people are us, the moment is now.

If climate change scares you, if regressive politics frustrate you– this is an invitation. Political action looks like individuals, deciding to show up.

There isn’t a Sunrise hub yet in Needham, but there could be one. Go to sunrisemovement.org/hubs and click the “Start a Hub” button– they’ll help you get started fighting back against climate change.

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