Sunrise Movement SB holds awareness event
Sunrise Movement Santa Barbara, a climate-activism group led by mostly UCSB students, attracted community members to the courthouse lawn Sunday afternoon. They made signs, a poster and a banner proclaiming “our time to rise.”
They called the event “Community for Unification,” and it felt like a celebration of some media outlets declaring a win for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. They planned it Friday when they saw the candidates pull ahead.
“We need to get out here and celebrate that Joe Biden’s gonna win — but also that we’re gonna hold him accountable for what he said he is going to do,” Mikala Butson, spokesperson for Sunrise Movement SB, said.
The group held a voter registration drive mid-October, called and texted citizens all over the country and sent thousands of postcards.
They endorsed the Biden-Harris campaign on social media and expressed support for Mr. Biden’s climate plan, though their ultimate goal is the broader Green New Deal.
“[The Biden plan] doesn’t take as many bold steps as the final vision of the Green New Deal, but it’s huge,” Mukta Kelkar, a volunteer with the Sunrise Movement, said. “It’s a fantastic climate plan.”
The group usually raises awareness for climate change but also has an interest in other issues, including local policy.
“We’re definitely focused on climate action, but we’re definitely pushing for systemic change: racial justice, economic justice, social justice, climate justice, all those things,” Ms. Butson said. “And they’re all so connected.”
Some participants held signs that said “black lives matter.”
A large poster asked: “What are you fighting for?” Some answers were: equity and a livable planet, diversity, respect and compassion and American unity.
“I think it’s so important and so great that you organized this right now,” Santa Barbara County supervisor Das Williams said into the microphone. “We have to encourage Biden and Harris to continue what they promised in their campaign to make climate change the priority.”
The day was particularly important to Ms. Butson.
“The significance of today is not lost on me. Just two years ago, on this very day, my hometown of Paradise, CA, burned to the ground in a wildfire, the Camp Fire,” she said.
She blames climate changes for the lives lost and mourns the destruction of her childhood home.
But she also cares about social justice and the COVID-19 pandemic.
“No moment has been more important than this moment. … The country is more divided than it has ever been before, but the youth are united,” she said as she opened up the microphone to the crowd.
A handful of students spoke to the crowd, excited by the presumed result of the election but also overwhelmed with the change they seek.
“What do we do now?” one asked.
“A lot more,” answered Supervisor Williams.
The crowd clapped for one another, nodding as speakers expressed their desire for social justice and a healthy planet.
And then, they sang inspirational songs like “If I Had a Hammer” and “That’s How the Light Gets In.”
The organization is going to display the “our time to rise” banner sometime this week.