The Sunrise Movement Comes to Walla Walla

Emma Fletcher-Frazer

The Walla Walla chapter of the Sunrise Movement, a grassroots youth-led movement centered on climate change, was recently founded. Community members created a new branch of the movement in the past few months in an attempt to bring conversation about climate change to the Walla Walla area.

Community member Meg Duhr helped found the Walla Walla hub of the Sunrise Movement.

“I’ve been following this unfolding climate crisis for a while, and am really dismayed at the way most mainstream politicians and a lot of people are just not talking about it, or [providing] any real solutions,” Duhr said.

Duhr, along with fellow community member Naomi Blinick and several Whitman students, started the hub on Feb. 5, 2019.

Naomi Blinick believes that the Sunrise Movement will help people in Walla Walla talk more about the ramifications of climate change.

“Something I really like about Sunrise is they are really committed to bringing climate change into everyday conversation and putting it at the forefront of people’s minds,” Blinick said.

Some goals of the Sunrise Movement include elevating discussion of the Green New Deal, as well as supporting candidates who are committed to stopping climate change.

The Walla Walla hub of the Sunrise Movement is focused on the agricultural and social implications of climate change, according to first-year Anna Allgeyer.

“Something really important about Sunrise is that it’s not just 100 percent climate-focused, it’s all the things that make up this climate crisis, it’s resources for laborers, it’s promoting justice and equity across all sectors and all intersections, [it’s] the importance of reaching out to everyone who is affected by this [and] realizing that climate injustice will only affect marginalized groups more, and it’s so important to have this kind of intersection,” Allgeyer said.

Members of the group, including first-year Ally Wait, believe that certain parts of Walla Walla, including the agricultural sector and people affected by oppressive systems, will be strongly affected by climate change.

“We are proximal to climate change impacts,” Wait said.

Other goals include expanding the number of people in the group, putting concentrated pressure on elected officials to take action, support local efforts for decarbonization, and set up a town hall on the Green New Deal.

The Walla Walla hub will host a hub launch on Apr. 8, at the First Congregational Church, in order to introduce the movement to the community. The launch will include a history of the Sunrise Movement, the Green New Deal, and climate change initiatives in Washington state.

First-year Karsten Beling encourages everyone to attend the hub launch.

“It’s open to anyone — community members, Whitman students — who want to learn more about the community, who want to get involved with Sunrise,” Beling said.

Getting involved with the Sunrise Movement is more than just an avenue for environmental activists — it’s also a way to alleviate despair, Duhr said.

“I think getting involved in climate activism is the best cure for dread and grief,” Duhr said. “Until I got really involved, and I learned about the Green New Deal and I started really looking into the solutions, you see how many solutions are actually out there, and you realize what a no-brainer it is.”

Blinick agrees, adding that the Sunrise Movement’s rapid growth has only added to the feeling of change.

“There’s already so much momentum, and they are growing so fast, [getting involved] felt like more than just putting your name down on a list or trying to do everything by yourself,” Blinick said.

Duhr believes that the Sunrise Movement and the Green New Deal are the best options for the future.

“Everybody says it’s radical, but what’s radical is doing nothing and letting the planet burn,” Duhr said.