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Youth-led staged “die-in” successful in raising awareness about climate change dangers

A staged "die-in" at Santa Rosa mall to demonstrate the perils of climate change
A staged "die-in" at Photo: Sunrise Movement. Santa Rosa mall to demonstrate the perils of climate change

by Gavin Sellers and Amy Jolly

The Climate Center staff members recently turned out to participate in a youth-led climate strike. The action, organized by the Sonoma County Sunrise Movement, began at Courthouse Square in Santa Rosa, where about 50 youth members and supporting individuals assembled at 12:00 pm on Friday, December 6th. The participants marched to the Santa Rosa Downtown Mall, where they staged a “die-in.” Positioning themselves in the center of the mall’s bustling plaza, they lay silent and somber on the ground as if dead to illustrate the catastrophic consequences of climate change. For 11 minutes – one for each of the years that we have left to make changes and avert the worst effects of a destabilized climate – the demonstrators remained on the ground, and then rose exultantly to their feet as organizers spoke into a megaphone, projecting inspirational words across the mall plaza and demanding a livable future. Having aroused the curiosity and in some cases great enthusiasm of shoppers, the assembly burst into song and paraded out of the mall. The event received extensive media coverage in the local newspaper as well.

The event made clear that youth-driven activism with a demand for systemic change is becoming a staple of the suburban American experience– even in shopping malls. Several Climate Center staff members attended the event and former Climate Center intern Christine Byrne was the lead organizer of the action. The Climate Center’s Renewable Energy Program Associate Nina Turner addressed the assemblage during the rally and helped organize the event. Gavin Sellors, the current intern at The Climate Center’s youth program also spoke. 

By empowering youth, The Climate Center continues to build a movement demanding bold climate action through smart policies that will help us rapidly decarbonize to reverse the climate crisis and return us to a safe and stable climate.