Frontier Regional School junior leads Green New Deal launch party

  • Kieran Dowd, a 15-year-old junior at Frontier Regional School, speaks to his audience before the start of a Green New Deal launch party at Frontier Regional School. Staff Photo/Domenic Poli

Staff Writer
Published: 2/5/2020 5:17:55 PM

SOUTH DEERFIELD — Kieran Dowd believes climate change is the most pressing issue in this planet’s history. But the solution, he thinks, might be partially rooted in a galaxy far, far away.

Dowd, a 15-year-old junior at Frontier Regional School, paraphrased a quote by Yoda from the “Star Wars” franchise this week at the beginning of a launch party for the Green New Deal, a package of proposed legislation aimed at combating climate change.

“Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to the dark side,” Dowd said on stage in Frontier’s auditorium before showing a pair of films produced by the Sunrise Movement, an environmental advocacy organization, to give those in attendance an understanding of the mission.

Dowd emceed the launch party, one of hundreds planned around the country Wednesday, Jan. 29. A similar event, hosted by Youth Rise Together and Franklin County Continuing the Political Revolution (FCCPR), was hosted at 12 Federal St. in Greenfield. Youth Rise Together is a teen activism group based in the Pioneer Valley; FCCPR is a Franklin County organization that fights for progressive causes.

Dowd told the roughly 15 people (including his mother) in the auditorium that climate change is the biggest threat facing the world, and 2020 is a pivotal moment, with perhaps the most important election of all time on the horizon. He said November brings an opportunity to elect environmental advocates into office.

The first film, titled “2020 Plan to Win,” pitched a Bernie Sanders presidency, touting his record on environmental issues. The effort needed to tackle climate change was compared to the way Americans ended the Great Depression, won World War II and landed a man on the moon.

“The only institution capable of leading an effort that big is the federal government,” one of the film’s young subjects said, adding that money and people power are the ways to make the government carry out the will of the populace. She states “fossil fuel billionaires like the Koch brothers” (the younger of which, the late David Koch, attended school in town at Deerfield Academy) have spent gobs of money buying politicians and funding climate change skepticism.

“What we have is so much more powerful: people,” she said, looking straight into the camera. “And people power can beat money any day, but only if we organize.”

The Sunrise Movement advocates an “Organize, Vote, Strike” strategy that emphasizes developing support for the Green New Deal, electing pro-environment politicians, and, if all else fails, holding nonviolent demonstrations in schools, government buildings and politicians’ offices.

The second film, intercut with clips of news coverage of devastating storms and wildfires reportedly intensified by climate change, features Sunrise Movement activists and others making the case for environmental legislation.

After the films were shown, the people in attendance reflected on what they saw and about plans moving forward.

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