Thirty passionate people marched from Crescent Beach to St. Augustine’s Bridge of Lions on Sunday March 10 to raise awareness for local and global environmental issues. Their 10-mile trek began at 8am, followed A1A north, then ended in downtown St. Augustine at noon with a crossing of the Bridge of Lions. There they heard speakers address climate change, the Keystone XL pipeline, community gardens, organic gardening, slow foods, seismic testing off the Atlantic coast and more environmental topics.
Environmental Youth Council coordinates the March Forth rally in St. Augustine each year to bring sustainability issues into public focus and spark action. EYC is concerned with social and environmental issues on a local to global scale. They hope to engage all people and organizations in creating viable solutions to the developing environmental crisis.
“The purpose of March Forth is to network people – to introduce them to one another so we can build a larger coalition and support for environmental and social issues,” said EYC member Rachel Bardin.
Bill Hamilton, a member of EYC, is interested in sustainability and moving forward ideologically with climate change. “Humanity is at a crossroads. One side of the road is that civilization collapses. And the other side of the road is a chance at the future,” Hamilton said. “Until people engage in solutions, it is never going to be easier than it is today.”
“We’re interested in getting involved in environmental and social justice issues – educating ourselves on local and global issues – and meeting other people and organizations who are doing like-minded things, “ said Rich Diem, one of EYC’s members and a March Forth coordinator.
Seventh generation Floridian Hunter Miller marched with the group. He says taking action defines what it means to be a Floridian. “We all need to get together to help these causes. It is not a blue or a red issue. It is an issue affecting the water I’m drinking. It is an issue that affects drought and super storms and jobs too.”
March Forth Speakers
Local author and Montessori teacher Kelly Johnson told the group she wrote her book Wings, Worms & Wonder to “help children relate to the natural world in progressive and holistic ways. It’s critical we give our kids the skills they need to live sustainably.” Johnson’s book is a series of hands-on lesson plans for parents and teachers to help children start an organic garden, embrace fresh foods and nurture the land.
Cassidie Corwin, student head of the Flagler College Sustainability Committee, told the marchers she believes it’s important to learn about environmental issues at school and to take action. “On campus, specifically, we’re changing light bulbs to LED, replacing showerheads in the dorms and worked with the city of St. Augustine to get recycling on campus,” said Corwin.
Other presenters at the March 10 rally included:
- Professor Robert Balch, UNF Sustainable Building and Design
- Neil Armingeon, former St. Johns Riverkeeper
- Mark Goldman, Rabbi of Temple Bet Yam
- Tina M. Gordon, Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve
- Cash McVay, Citysprout, Lincolnville Community Garden
- Adam Morley, AnJ Recycling Service
- Sarah Owen-Gledhill, Florida Wildlife Federation
- Nana Royer, St. Augustine Beach Community Garden
- Richard Villadogniga, Founder, Slow Food First Coast
- Rev. Ted Voorhees, Vicar of St. Cyprian’s Episcopal Church
Future EYC Events
Although the turn out for March Forth was smaller than last year, the Environmental Youth Council isn’t discouraged. They’re focused on many events, such as the recent presidential election, the Washington D.C. Climate Rally and the council’s decision to sign on as a plaintiff in the Georgia Pacific lawsuit.
EYC supports youth in schools, colleges and universities because that’s who will control the future of the local and global environment. Despite it’s name, Bill Hamilton says the Environmental Youth Council is for people of all ages who want to get involved in environmental and social issues – and meet others who are engaged in similar concerns. “We’re not just talking about it…we’re taking action,” Hamilton said.
The Environmental Youth Council holds public meetings the last Tuesday of every month at 7 p.m. at The Cyprian Center in Lincolnville.