Turning of the Tide in the Battle Against Climate Change

Group of students at the People's Climate March

Students in the photo in no particular order: Autumn Carlson, Megan Forcia, Lauren Lindquist, Hannah McDonell, Austin Tipper, Rebecca Schrupp, Hannah Tuomi, Katy Evanson, Shelby Flanagan, Karen Budig, Zoey Cook, Mason Dockter and Hanah Hemen.

Clean Up the River Environment (CURE) and Minnesota Public Interest Group (MPIRG) sponsored 13 University of MN, Morris students and Erik Hatlestad, CURE’s Public Interest Fellow and MPIRG Campus Organizer, to travel from Morris, MN to New York City and join 400 other Minnesotans to walk in the largest climate march in history, the People’s Climate March. The march occurred on Sunday, Sept. 21st and brought together 400,000 people. The demonstration was an international effort with 2,646 events in more than 150 countries, attended by hundreds of thousands more people. Its purpose was to demand U.N. action on global warming as the U.N. summit on climate change was scheduled to meet the following week to discuss an international carbon-emissions agreement.


Hatlestad explained why the students wanted to drive from Minnesota to New York City in a span of three days just to make it in time to walk in this event, “the purpose of participating in the event was to contribute to the amazingly diverse group of people demanding action on climate from our leaders.” Here is the story of their trip in photos as told by Erik Hatlestad.

Group in Morris about to leave

We departed from the University of MN, Morris at 4 PM on Friday with everyone packed in to two vans.


Next stop was for breakfast in Ohio at 8 AM, where we were shocked to find no hash browns in the entire restaurant (a crime against breakfast).

Scenic beauty

After making our way through the beautiful, wooded rolling hills of Pennsylvania we finally arrived in West Orange, New Jersey at the West Orange Unitarian Universalist Church to rest our weary eyes before heading into New York City.

A place to stay.

For many of us it was our first time being in New York City, which was both intimidating and exhilarating. We boarded the 8 AM train from New Jersey to Penn Station and then boarded the subway towards Central Park to assemble for the march.


Once we arrived in Central Park we knew that this was going to top  anything we had expected.

March crowd

The March was to start at 11:45 AM. We arrived at 9:30 AM and there were already thousands lining the street.  We took our time before the march to explore the city and Central Park, as well as peruse the vendors that had set themselves up near the assembly area.


After meeting some of our fellow Minnesotans back at the staging grounds, we began to take our place in the student block.

student representing MN

Shortly before the protest all 400,000 of us fell silent to honor those whose lives had been affected by climate change, and then with a roar louder than a jet engine, all of us cheered.  It was, as one of the students put it, like a battle cry from a giant army in Lord of the Rings.


We marched singing “This Land is Your Land.” We danced to one of the many drum lines accompanying the crowd. We chanted things like “ban fracking now!” It felt as if that moment was the turning of the tide in the battle against climate change and the corporate masters perpetrating it.

Thank you to Erik and all 13 students for making the trip and sharing their experience with CURE.

Photos by Zoey Cook, Shelby Flanagan and Erik Hatlestad.