Thousands of people will gather together in San Francisco on Sept. 8, along with thousands more around the world, in a global mobilization called Rise for Climate, Jobs and Justice. I am a 24-year-old Latina Christian environmental organizer, and I’m going to be at the march in San Francisco. I hope you’ll join me, and I want to tell you why.
I am Mexican-American. For longer than I can remember, and for reasons at the heart of my being, I have loved and cared about the natural world. Earth, La Tierra, is precious, sacred and beautiful, and home to you and me. The sounds, colors and smells are powerful and life giving. The sacred text that I love, la Biblia, calls us to live on Earth as a presence and reminder of God’s goodness. This means, loving, serving, living humbly and acting justly towards others. Our families also teach us about how special the Earth is. How many of us can remember with love, a parent or grandparent, who taught us that each grain of sand, drop of water and leaf on a tree deserves respect? Everything is valuable. Nothing should be wasted.
Yet, our common home, nuestra Casa Comun, is being harmed, exploited and poisoned every day, around the world. Lifestyles of consumption and greed, and also of want, put an unbearable demand on the Earth’s natural resources. A global system of extraction in economically poor neighborhoods is depleting our land and communities, creating an impoverished future. The neighborhoods and ecosystems in our midst and in our home countries are in a grave state, and because of this so are we. We watch as the temperatures rise to dangerous levels, as storms get more powerful and droughts more intense. We see more and more of our children suffering from asthma and our elders from exposure to air pollution. We watch as thousands upon thousands of people are displaced from their ancestral homes by a feverish, suffering climate. Climate change is real. It is frightening. We feel it. We see it. We know it.
Together, we must rise to show that we do not accept this system as it is or business practices as they are. We no longer want to see the land bleeding and crying and suffering. We imagine and see a different future on the horizon. We dream of taking less from this Earth and returning more to it through a system that produces energy from renewable sources, like the sun and wind. We see job opportunities for marginalized people in building an economy with abundant, clean energy for all. We dream of air that is sweet and safe to breathe so we no longer choke, suffer and die preventable deaths. We are called and can take part in creating a future that is compassionate toward all, where all people can flourish.
I am marching to give voice to these things that I feel, and that I believe deeply. With others from our city and state, and around the world, I am marching to call our political and business leaders to lead for a better future. In the coming week, in our own backyard of San Francisco from Sept. 12-14, these leaders are gathering for the Global Climate Action Summit. We need to be sure that they hear our voices, feel our prayers, know our unrelenting concern. History has taught us that when we come together, and show publicly and peacefully that we want our leaders to lead, change happens.
So, please join me on Sept. 8. Bring yourself, your familia, and tu barrio. Help us create change because, united, we will win. ¡El pueblo unido, jamas sera vencido! A community united, will never be defeated!
Estrella Sainburg is a Los Angeles-based organizer with the interfaith environmental group, GreenFaith.