One ordinary Monday afternoon on March 11, stuck in Copywriting class for three hours, once again I learned nothing new and got bored. And what do bored students do? They scroll through their phones. I scrolled through mine that day -and changed things up.
I flicked through some news to find an article about Greta Thunberg by The Guardian. I think we all know by now who Greta is – and those images of her in two short braids and a yellow raincoat, sitting on the concrete floor with her black and white Skolstrejk för klimatet (School Strike for the Climate) sign.
Just as Greta never expected things to happen the way they did after she began sitting in front of the Swedish parliament, I didn’t realize what would follow. Upon reading the article anguish washed over me, and I could not have related to anyone more.
As a writer and environmental activist in Bangkok, I know what it’s like to feel so powerless in such a hopeless place, so alone in such a crowded world. Greta did too, but the 16-year-old has taken advantage of her distress and turned it around. After reading the article, 21-year-old me was inspired.
Creating a Facebook event and encouraging people to skip school and work is easy, I can do it with barely any effort. So I did it. In an hour, “School Strike for Climate Change, Bangkok” was set up for March 15, the same day as 2,000 other strikes in 125 countries. I invited all the 995 people on my Facebook friends list, waited, and hoped for the best. My job was done – or so I thought.
I held another march on Saturday for people who couldn’t make it on Friday. People wanted more, and I just had to give it to them. Once again, I just talked, and people listened. Even politicians did – at least those out campaigning for the election nearby. All I had to do to make them listen was speak up, and loud.
My climate strike was a huge success for me: about 500 people were ‘Interested’ in the event and about 100 in total came to join me. Only two of them were friends I had invited. The rest were strangers, who, perhaps, were concerned citizens just like me. Perhaps they too were having concerns in their own homes and in their own heads, until one day, they stumbled upon my Facebook event and thought: Hey, someone’s doing something.I should too.