May 11, 2021

Earth Day in Salt Lake City

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Written by: Berkeley Loper, Community Development Intern

No more coal, no more oil! Keep that carbon in the soil!

Show me what democracy looks like! This is what democracy looks like!

When the land we love is under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back!

Echos of chanting can be heard across the south steps of the capitol on the sunny afternoon of  April 22, 2021. The passion in voices young and old is contagious. The snow-capped peaks of the Central Wasatch can be seen in the distance, a reminder of the wild lands we love and hope to protect for future generations.  

Earth Day 2021, in Salt Lake City was one to remember. Students from the University of Utah along with middle and high schools around Salt Lake City came together with environmental organizations from the community to celebrate our planet and raise awareness about some climate issues facing Utah. 

I was lucky enough to represent Save Our Canyons at two different events:

Divest U; Held a rally on campus urging the University of Utah to divest from Fossil Fuel development.  

Fridays For Future; A climate advocacy organization led by high school students. Organized a gathering at the Utah State Capitol calling for more legislative action against the climate crises. 

From young children drawing with chalk and joining in the chanting, to older activists who have spent lifetimes fighting for acknowledgement and action against the climate crisis — it seemed that everyone had come out to support the efforts of student organizers. 

Divest U, a student group at the University of Utah, has been working tirelessly for months to build support from the campus community for fossil fuel divestment. Currently, the University invests a portion of their $1.1 billion endowment in corporations participating in or funding fossil fuel development. The intent behind Divest U’s gathering on campus this Earth Day was to raise awareness about where the University’s endowment is being invested, and to inspire students to take charge of how money within their institution of education is being spent. The group’s hard work paid off, and the University of Utah’s academic senate voted to divest the endowment from fossil fuel development and reinvest in sustainable industries the following Monday. 

While promoting Save Our Canyons’ message on campus and at the capitol, I had the privilege of chatting with some folks about the importance of protecting the Wasatch, as well as hearing stories from community members about what the Wasatch means to them.

CLICK HERE to watch what other people in the community have to say about protecting the Wasatch!

I listened to the stories of college students who spend their free time biking, skiing, climbing, hiking, trail running, and frolicking in the beautiful mountain range that frames the valley. I spoke with a mother who wants to protect the Wasatch so her children and her children’s children can enjoy the same solitude and adventure that can be found there today. I talked with residents who value clean drinking water, and believe that protecting the watershed should be the top priority when considering land management strategies in the Wasatch. I heard from people who don’t get out recreating as much as they would like, but still feel refreshed and rejuvenated every morning when they wake up and see the mighty Wasatch Front looming over their homes in the valley. 

I was inspired by the sheer force of young people coming together to make change in their communities this Earth Day. Time and time again, youth have shown up to take charge in the fight against the climate crisis and acknowledging that there is no future unless action is taken right now. We can all learn from the passion, creativity, and humility of young organizers and carry their energy with us in future activism pursuits, whether in small daily actions or larger protests and rallies.

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