A crowd of about 250 people of every age and circumstance turned out for climate action at Fish Creek from midday on Friday afternoon September 20, 2019.
Babes-in-arms, grand- and great-grandparents, primary and secondary school students, families, local business, shop and trades people, farmers and gentlefolk all assembled on the Fish Creek town common in support of the global School Strike 4 Climate occurring simultaneously all around the world.
Many carried hand-made signs and placards reading heart-felt messages such as “We are skipping our lessons to teach you one”, “I stand for what I stand on”, “There is no second planet” and “When leaders act like kids, kids become leaders”.
Musicians, including a brass ensemble, percussionists and singers led the gathering as they learned new environmentally themed songs and simple yet compelling chants like “Waters rise, hear our cries, no more lies, it’s action time”.
Rally co-organiser Elizabeth Collins invited those present to take advantage of the “letter-writing materials” available in the shade of the common’s rotunda to let their views be known to all levels of government.
Cheers and clapping greeted a determined march of young children as they arrived calling for care for the earth.
Foster Secondary College Year 12 student Tamzin Kennedy-Watterson spoke at the rally and she began with a respectful acknowledgement of the location’s traditional custodians, elders, spirits and ancestors.
“The best way to honour these ancestors is by looking after country,” she said.
“It’s amazing to see so many people here today but I have to say that there shouldn’t even have to be such a thing as climate activism.
“We are on the brink of a huge extinction now,” Tamzin said.
“The last mass extinction took place 252 million years ago when volcanoes erupted in Siberia.
“We’re moving gradually towards what is a man-made disaster with only 12 years to make changes in how we look after the planet before the situation is irreversible.
“You might not be around in the future, but your children and grandchildren will be and living with the effects of what happens now.
“Congratulations to you for striking today and already we’re making a powerful wave with people all around the world standing up for climate action,” she said.
“Have conversations about what we can do because if there is enough of us protesting, we can change the world.”
Foster Secondary Year 10 student Bon Maclean also took to the podium on the back of a ute and added his thanks to the people attending the Fish Creek strike
“I personally hope that each one of us can help make a difference,” he said.
“What’s happening now is something for us to say ‘no’ to, and we all need to stand up.”
Bon told the rally that he and other students had recently come back from East Timor where they had seen communities there taking positive climate action including giving farmers carbon credits for planting trees.
“If a country like East Timor can act, in a community like ours we can stand up, too.”
Ms Collins welcomed a number of primary school-aged speakers, each of whom added their pleas for a sustainable future.
“I hope that human beings will rise up and work things out, but if you don’t get organised it’s not going to happen,” she said.
“I’m so glad to see so many people here today; we organised this and you all came.”
Ms Collins introduced Fish Creek graziers Rob and Joan Liley, with their “Farmers for Climate Action” sign held aloft and recommended that people speak to them about their environmentally respectful and carbon neutral farming philosophy.
She also pointed out Corner Inlet district Landcare stalwart Brian Watterson as a valuable source of information about how best to manage and protect waterways and remnant native vegetation.
“Landcare can help arrange tree planting for you,” Ms Collins said.
The Fish Creek School Strike 4 Climate then mobilised for a symbolic march along Falls Road, around past the Fish Creek and District CFA station and the tennis courts and back to the town common via the Great Southern Rail Trail.More music and songs followed before the crowd dispersed peacefully and with more hope than before.