By: Maeve Arthur ’22 (she/her), Louisa Bartkovich ’22 (she/her), Kat Soltany ’22 (she/her) and Azella Markgraf  ’21 (she/her)

Sunrise Movement activists march on Biden’s campaign office in Philadelphia. Photo by Cole Sansom.

Margaret Mead, cultural anthropologist and environmental activist, once aptly stated, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” 

During our time at Davidson, we have witnessed the passion and concern that our peers feel about the current climate crisis. At the same time, we have noticed that, for varying reasons, student-organized climate action groups have proved difficult to sustain. Recognizing the gap between student passion and action, and knowing our collective strength could bring lasting change, we decided to establish a hub of the national Sunrise Movement on campus.

Sunrise is a youth social movement whose mission is “to stop climate change and create millions of good jobs in the process.” Since 2016, the Sunrise Movement has mobilized young people across the country to take action on the climate crisis and bring about the era of the Green New Deal, a governing vision for a just transition to 100% renewable energy by 2030. The agenda of Sunrise is based on the priorities that have been determined by local “hubs,” or chapters. According to the Sunrise website, there are over four hundred hubs across the country, each taking action on climate justice in their local communities and together guiding the platform of the Sunrise Movement at a national level.

Of all the possible steps for climate action, we chose the Sunrise Movement because it strongly reflects Davidson’s values. The Sunrise Movement is founded on community, collective action, empowerment, and climate justice. The Davidson community is driven, intelligent, energetic, service- and community-oriented, and compassionate — traits that compose the most influential climate justice leaders. We are also diverse in thought, experience and identity. We know that people are affected by the climate crisis in different ways, and that people come to the fight for climate justice for reasons. In the Davidson Sunrise Hub, we hope to create a space where all students can come together to share stories, build community, and take action to ensure the health and wellbeing of our planet and its people. 

Another guiding principle of Sunrise is to “welcome imperfection, share innovations, and learn through honest mistakes followed by honest conversations.” One way we translate this value to the Davidson community is through weekly happy hours that are open to all students. The happy hours provide a fun, inclusive, non-academic space for students to discuss environmental justice issues without the pressure of being wrong or ‘sounding stupid.’ Through this event, we hope to provide the ‘sunlight’ everyone needs to grow. 

Alongside weekly happy hours, we will host monthly discussions led by guest lecturers who guide us through a variety of topics that address environmental issues through multiple lenses and disciplines. Among these topics: introductions to the climate justice movement, environmental racism in North Carolina, and the importance of biodiversity, along with analyses of Chicanx artwork and anti-oppression training. We are currently planning action events in accordance with the national Sunrise Green New Deal 100 Days Campaign, as well as providing pressure to our local lawmakers towards environmentally-progessive policies.

Join us on WildcatSync to hear more about upcoming events and stay plugged into the Hub! If you are an organization leader or professor interested in collaborating on events related to environmental issues or climate justice, please reach out to Louisa Bartkovich (lobartkovich@davidson.edu).

In a time of uncertainty and intersecting crises, we are reminded of the words of Youth Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman, “For there is always light, if only we are brave enough to see it, if only we are brave enough to be it.” Only together can we illuminate the path towards a just and sustainable future. We invite you to help us spread some sunshine. 

Maeve Arthur ’22 (she/her) is an Environmental Studies major from Brunswick, ME. Contact her at maaruther@davidson.edu

Louisa Bartkovich ’22 (she/her) is a Biology major and Environmental Studies minor from Exeter, NH. Contact her at lobartkovich@davidson.edu

Kat Soltany ’22 (she/her) is a Environmental Studies major from McLean, VA. Contact her at kasoltany@davidson.edu

Azella Markgraf  ’21 (she/her) is an Anthropology and Environmental Studies double major from Granville, Ohio. Contact her at azmarkgraf@davidson.edu