Community members marched through the Fayetteville Historic Square on Sept. 27 chanting their demands for environmental action at the Northwest Arkansas climate strike, the crowd dotted with paper jellyfish and skeletal animal puppets.
The march began at noon, during which the crowd vocalized their support for the Green New Deal. Five speakers and four local bands such as Handmade Moments and Still on the HIll performed 1-4 p.m.
Kelly Mulhollan, a member of the band Still on the Hill and OMNI Center board president, organized the rally with his wife, who is also his bandmate. Mulhollan organized the strike because he thinks people have not made climate change a priority, he said.
”Our leaders need to see us on the street and see that we do care,” Mulhollan said.
Senior Harrison Hamer, president of the Arkansas Animal Rights Club, spoke at the strike. Hamer thinks being involved in issues can help create real change, he said. His speech was a call to action that focused on animal agriculture and its effect on the environment.
“I think what’s happening to the climate is super messed up,” Hamer said. “It gives me a lot of hope to see all these other people that feel the same way.”
AARC members encouraged open discussion on how dietary choices can affect the environment. By being a vegan, Hamer tries to help the environment on an individual scale, he said.
Mulhollan and committee members for the strike invited local, environmentally friendly vendors who used compostable plates and utensils to prevent the accumulation of waste at the event, he said.
Volunteers set up informative booths at the rally. Fayetteville High School students supervised a waste station, which included a recycle bin, a compost bin and a landfill bin. The Washington County Democrats helped people register to vote and AARC members spoke about the benefits of going vegan. Other booths included a hydration station with free reusable water bottles and a kids area with face painting.
UA junior Meredith Petrus thinks climate change will most affect the future of younger generations, she said.
“We just want politicians to step up and actually do what we want them to do,” Petrus said.
Mulhollan was overwhelmed by the turnout at the strike, he said. A small meeting three months ago turned into passionate volunteers demanding action for climate change. He hopes that the people who came to the protest will actively pursue solutions for the climate crisis.
“Awareness is not good enough anymore,” Mulhollan said.