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Post-pandemic, campus quiet on climate

  • Hanover High School junior Lydia Hansberry, of Hanover, left, reaches out to stabilize “Mother Earth on Fire,” by artist Ria Blaas, of Sharon, as Sharon residents Doug Smith, Ulrike von Moltke, Jill Wilcox, prepare to carry it to the climate strike rally on the Dartmouth College Green in Hanover, N.H., on Friday, Sept. 23, 2022. “I think it’s the sort of thing that somebody 60 years younger than I am could probably be more effective,” said Smith as a gust of wind pushed at the large puppet during the rally attended by about 40 people from both Vermont and New Hampshire. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to valley news — James M. Patterson

  • Larry Daloz, 82, of Hanover, stands quietly at the corner of Wheelock and Main streets in Hanover, N.H., during a climate strike rally on Friday, Sept. 23, 2022. Daloz, a retired professor of developmental psychology, said he has been active on climate change issues for 40 years and works on energy efficiency projects at Kendall at Hanover, where he lives. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to James M. Patterson

  • John Gage, of Windham, traveled to the climate strike rally in Hanover, N.H., on Friday, Sept. 23, 2022, to promote the idea to collect a fee for fossil fuel producers based on carbon emissions and redistribute that money to residents. Gage speaks to Norman Emond, left, of Charlestown, who reused a sign from another demonstration, June Goodband, of Springfield, Vt., middle, and Dartmouth College student Jordan Narrol, of Columbia, Missouri. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to valley news — James M. Patterson

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 9/27/2022 9:04:46 PM
Modified: 9/27/2022 9:04:47 PM

HANOVER — Around 30 people gathered on Friday for a climate strike on the corner of the Dartmouth Green. A similar event in 2019 saw 700 protesters stretched between Hanover and Norwich on the Ledyard Bridge.

The strike three years ago and last week’s event were both in sync with a worldwide climate movement, Global Climate Strike, started by activist Greta Thunberg in 2018 to draw attention to the urgent action required to fight against climate change.

This year, organizers chalked the downturn in attendance to a shorter planning window. James Graham, a board member for the climate action group 350NH, helped pull together last week’s strike, and also noted that he had a difficult time getting Hanover High and Dartmouth College students involved.

“I worked to try to find Dartmouth student groups to co-sponsor the event, but they’re all dormant, I guess,” Graham said. “Which is kind of surprising.”

Graham added that in his work with 350NH, a climate justice organization, he’s found it challenging to gather people for meetings and actions like the one on Friday.

“We met a little more when COVID was happening because people were so used to meeting online,” Graham said. “And in the area, I feel like there’s a lot of different organizations, and maybe everyone’s sort of spread thin.”

But taking into account the short notice, Graham was happy for Friday’s “nice little turnout,” adding that the puppet was a real draw.

Sculptor Ria Blaas, of Sharon, drove her red pickup truck onto the Green to unload a large plaster rendering of planet earth, cast in red and engulfed in flames, that she made six years ago for demonstrations against construction of the Keystone Pipeline in Alberta, Canada.

Fellow demonstrators hoisted the heavy puppet up by wooden poles, facing it out towards the intersection of West Wheelock and Main Street to more than a few honks.

“This calls people’s attention to the issue,” New Hampshire state Rep. Lee Oxenham, a Democrat from Plainfield and an organizer of the event, said. “We’re all inundated with news, and sometimes it’s hard to see the really big overarching issues that are going to determine our ability to survive as a civilized society on this planet.”

Rob Grabill, associate pastor at the Church of Christ at Dartmouth College, attended the event in a green clerical shirt, holding out a banner that read “Our House is on Fire.”

“Faith communities really have an obligation to act against climate change,” Grabill said. “Not the least because the church’s organized religion gave a green light to a misinterpretation of scripture that let us think we have absolute dominion over the earth.”

Grabill was joined by a young member of his congregation, recent college graduate and Hanover resident Hayden Smith.

“We really need to make some loud demands from folks at all levels of government,” Smith said. “Not a lot of people pay attention to state House, Senate or even Executive Council races, but only by starting at the grassroots level can we get stuff done at the federal level. And still, voting is important but it’s not going to be worth much unless people keep up sustained action.”

Smith is a member of the New Hampshire Youth Movement, an organization agitating for systemic change in the state’s political system.

Dartmouth senior Amanda Sun was one of the few other students at the event.

“I wanted to learn more about the local climate justice communities,” Sun said, adding that she, like Graham, was disappointed by the student climate activism at Dartmouth. “I think it’s important to get involved with intergenerational activism.”

Frances Mize is a Report for America corps member. She can be reached at or 603-727-3242.

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