Climate Strike March: We are running out of time...

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Marchers on the Burke Gilman Trail. Photo by Todd Staheli


Save Shoreline Trees interview with high school climate change activist Marieka Staheli
By Melody Fosmore  

On Friday, September 24, 2021 18 students from Shorewood High School and about 10 adults walked from Log Boom Park in Kenmore to Richmond Beach Saltwater Park, approximately 8 miles. I was privileged to join this group for a couple of miles and was able to walk and talk with several people concerned about our planet. 

Some of the adults who participated in the Climate Strike march. Photo by Todd Staheli.

I was so impressed with the dedication of the high school students I felt this story needed to be told. The student organizer, Marieka, tells us, in her own words, why she organized this Climate Strike March:

Melody: Many of us have been aware or inspired by Greta Thunberg, the high school climate change activist who took the world leaders to task with not taking climate change seriously. Were you inspired by Greta to do this march?

Marieka: I am inspired by the prospect of change. Change in our schools, our city, our country, and our world. I first heard Greta Thunberg speak in a video sent to me of her speech at the UN Climate Change COP24 Conference in 2018, and she inspired me, along with many others, to join her in the struggle for climate action.

Waving at vehicles on I-5 from the 185th overpass. Photo by Todd Staheli

The attention that strikes provoke about any issue have historically led to change, whether it be workers’ wages or climate action. It was obvious that Greta’s school strikes for climate were getting more attention than any science or data ever had, and it was fueling the most change that the climate movement has ever seen.

This was the second Shoreline Climate Strike that I have organized. The first was in 2019 during the United Nations Climate Summit in partnership with the strikes happening worldwide on that day. I was in 8th grade at the time. 

Halfway point at Shoreline City Hall. Photo by Janet Way

Not able to go to the large strike happening downtown, I organized a strike in Shoreline for other people who were in the same situation as me. We marched through Shoreline - from the shores of Lake Washington to those of the Puget Sound.

The purpose of climate strikes is to call on our government to prioritize climate initiatives, particularly in low-income communities and communities of color where climate change hits the hardest. Climate strikes aren’t a fun party that young organizers like to host every year. We will stop when every feasible measure has been taken to ensure a livable planet for everyone.

I call upon this Shoreline school district and city to be bold leaders and set an example for other communities of how a small city can be at the forefront of climate action.

I pray that these words are read by the elected officials in our city government and will be fuel for action where it is desperately needed.

Melody: What do you think high school age students think about the world they are inheriting?

Marieka: I can’t speak for everyone, but a majority of high school students definitely don’t appreciate the state of the planet we are inheriting. It’s stressful. Many students experience anxiety fueled by the climate crisis. 

Marching along Aurora. Photo by Todd Staheli

But for the most part, students, like adults, really don’t want to worry about it. High school students want to think about homecoming, sports, or music -- all luxuries that past generations enjoyed. They want to be thinking about their careers, unrestrained by the looming issue of climate change.

My experience is that (most) high school students will quickly acknowledge that this is the biggest problem that we are facing, but it isn’t something that they consume themselves with. And who can blame them! It really is not their job.

Melody: Marching is inclusive and important to bring awareness. In your view, what else could we be doing to change the way we live in this world to help fight climate change?

Marieka: First, while there are many individual measures that should be taken, the bigger measures and systems in place need to be dismantled and rebuilt in order to obtain the change that is necessary.

Heading down Richmond Beach Road. Photo by Todd Staheli

My primary advice for every individual is to vote. The global strikes that we have seen worldwide over the past few years only work when the people in office are open to these ideas in the first place. 

Also, make an effort to look into the financial effects of green actions like buying electric vehicles, solar panels, and electric appliances. Many homeowners would be surprised by the ways that these sustainable efforts actually make a lot of sense economically in the long run. 

Research also shows that meat production has a huge impact on global emissions. Cut down on meat in your diet. In the United States we consume the most meat of any country in the world which isn’t sustainable or healthy. In recent years, my family has cut down on meat and dairy consumption to eat an essentially plant-based diet, which is one of the single biggest things anyone can do to make a difference

Marieka and Save Shoreline Trees friend
Photo by Todd Staheli

Sustainability is a mindset. These aren’t drastic changes to anybody’s lifestyle; they are small measures that substitute for things that we already do or own.

Melody: If you could have a personal conversation with every person reading this article, what would you want them to understand?

Marieka: Everyone should know that the climate movement will not leave behind the vulnerable populations. While most of earth’s populations are suffering the impacts of climate change, a small minority of people still have the luxury to ignore it. 

It is this minority that should be doing the most. These are the people who have the resources to make the changes that we need to see. We’re counting on everyone to take only what they need and give all that they can to this cause.

Melody: Share, if you are comfortable, your goals, ambitions and hope for your life and the future of this world.

Marieka: I have the obvious and ambitious hope that everyone in the world can be free from the effects of climate change in the future. I especially hope that the poorest and most vulnerable people of the world can be included in these actions, as they are the ones that are most affected by the climate crisis.

Nobody really wants to spend their life working on climate change. But what most people don’t realize is that it is connected to many underlying social justice issues that so many people are passionate about: patriarchy, racism, and colonialism (among others). 

In my life, I hope to work on these social issues worldwide, not just through activism, but through science, politics, conversation, organizing, and initiative.

Final destination at RB Saltwater Park. Photo by Todd Staheli


Climate Change is an issue that affects us all. I am proud of our youth for stepping up. Those of us who are older can step up as well and do our part. Let’s work together to leave this world in a better condition for the generations to come!

Melody Fosmore, CoChair, Save Shoreline Trees, can be reached at

Save Shoreline Trees is a non-profit community coalition formed and dedicated to the preservation and protection of our tall conifers and native trees. We believe maintaining and preserving our tall trees is one of the best things we can do it to fight climate change.

This says it all. Photo by Todd Staheli

Here are a few ways to learn more and get involved:

Candidate forum Shoreline City Council
Mark your calendars! On Oct 5, 2021, the League of Women Voters and Save Shoreline Trees is hosting a Zoom webinar to interview the soon to be members of our City Council about their stance on environmental issues. To sign up for the free webinar visit

Climate Action Plan City of Shoreline
The City of Shoreline is preparing to update its Climate Action Plan. The City has worked to combat climate change since its first Climate Action Plan was created in 2013. However, there is much more work ahead to reduce emissions to the level needed to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. 

The new plan will map out the actions the City will take over the next nine years to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Shoreline. The plan will also include actions to support carbon capture by trees and ecosystems in Shoreline, and to prepare our community for the impacts of climate change that are already here and those that are predicted in the future.

To learn more about the Climate Action Plan update and to get involved, visit, or contact Environmental Program Specialist Cameron Reed at

Shoreline School District
The Shoreline School District reports our three newest school buildings were constructed with solar panels and most other existing schools are being prepared for solar projects. Additionally, lighting upgrades are occurring that use about half of the power as current lighting. We also expect to increase the number of schools participating in an enhanced lunchroom waste program that separates out recyclables, compostable waste and landfill waste. For more information contact Curtis Campbell (he/him), Public Information Officer, Shoreline Public Schools, 206-393-4412.


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