CLIMATE CHANGE (copy)

Friday's School Strike for Climate includes a march from the Madison Gas and Electric plant at the corner of Blount and East Main streets to the state Capitol, similar to March's climate event, which included students marching from East High School to the Capitol building.

Madison will once again rally in support of the environment Friday with events planned from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The European “School Strike for Climate” will bring an expected group of more than 1,000 downtown in the afternoon, with a march down East Washington Avenue and rallies both inside and outside the Capitol building. The coalition of groups is asking state and local governments to declare a climate emergency and Madison Gas and Electric to “transition completely to 100% renewable energy” by 2030, according to the Facebook event.

Max Prestigiacomo, a University of Wisconsin-Madison freshman who is organizing the Madison event, said that while there are similarities to an earlier rally in March, in which about 1,000 students marched from East High School to the Capitol, he hopes to see more community members out there this time.

“We’re expecting this to be an entire community, no matter your age, no matter your characteristics, we want you out there,” Prestigiacomo said. “We can’t do this alone, we can’t do this just with 2,000 students. We need adults to be showing up for students.”

Madison Metropolitan School District students can be excused from school that day with a call from a parent or guardian, MMSD spokeswoman Rachel Strauch-Nelson told the Cap Times in an email, in accordance with the “normal attendance policy” the district has followed for other similar events.

The Sept. 20 event is inspired by the Global Climate Strike Movement, and will include a livestream of Swedish high school student Greta Thunberg, who is in the United States this week visiting Congress, speaking around 3:50 p.m.

Prestigiacomo said he hopes the event helps legislators understand the severity of the climate change issue and the degree of solutions necessary.

“They need to realize that we need big changes,” he said. “If it doesn’t come now, frankly it scares me that I have to talk about the alternative.”

The likely largest events will be a rally and activities at the MG&E plant at the corner of Blount and East Main streets, followed by the march to the Capitol and rallies there. According to a news release from the organizers, the MG&E portion, which runs from 1-3 p.m., will include large art, educational booths and an inflatable coal plant.

Earlier in the day, there will be a sunrise meditation and yoga event in Law Park at 410 S. Blair St., sign holding along John Nolen Drive and various interfaith gatherings at downtown locations. At noon, Eric De Los Santos will be part of a Concert for the Climate on the state Capitol steps.

The coalition of organizations leading the rally includes the Youth Climate Action Team, Sierra Club, 350 Madison, Climate Reality Project - Madison, Democratic Socialists of America, Extinction Rebellion, People’s Green New Deal - Madison and the Wisconsin Network for Peace, Justice and Sustainability.

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Scott Girard is the local k-12 education reporter at the Cap Times. A Madison native, he joined the paper in 2019 after working for six years for Unified Newspaper Group. Follow him on Twitter @sgirard9.