LITCHFIELD — The United Nations held its climate summit this week, and groups around the nation held demonstrations to voice their concerns about climate change.
In Litchfield, a spirited crowd of residents joined the local group Earth Rejoice, to take part in the recent Global Climate Strike effort on the Green, holding signs, cheering, and waving to cars passing on Route 202. The group included a child whose sign said: “Honk if you’re a planet healer.”
Other hand-lettered signs said: “Heal Our Home,” “Green New Deal,” “End Fossil Fuel Economy: Go Clean,” and “Stand with Our Children and Future Generations, Act Now.”
“Our group has already been on the Green a couple of times this summer, and it seemed like the right thing to do,” said Goshen resident Mike Kelly, who founded Earth Rejoice with his wife, Anne, and other members of St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Litchfield. “We hoped to give locals an outlet for action, who may not have otherwise joined the strike.”
Kyra and Rob Hartnett, owners of Bantam-based Twenty2Wallpaper, closed up shop for the morning, bringing extra signs that said: “Global Climate Strike” and “Renewable Energy for All.” The Hartnetts were joined by six of their employees.
“We’re an environmentally responsible business and work to reduce the impact of our wallpaper manufacturing on the environment,” Kyra Hartnett said. “We all wanted to lend our voice to this critical issue.”
The Earth Rejoice group stayed on the Green from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The reaction from passing drivers was mostly positive, Anne Kelly said. “Every so often someone would yell out the window, saying things like ‘There’s no such thing (as climate change)’ but for the most part, people were waving and honking. We were surprised to get anything negative, but you have to expect it.”
“For such short notice, we got about 40 people,” Mike Kelly said. “We were going to go to Woodbury, but we decided to stay in Litchfield instead.”
Anne Kelly said Earth Rejoice was inspired by the climate summit and young Greta Thunberg, the European teenager who has made headlines during the last month and her appearance at the climate summit. “Every all over the world is joining the climate strike,” Anne Kelly said. “My husband Mike said, ‘Let’s do our own ... the more people we reach, the better.”
Earth Rejoice was started after a member attended a church retreat with other members of St. Anthony’s. The theme was about healing the Earth, Kelly said. “That inspired us,” she said. “We are trying to raise awareness and promote the issues of climate change. We plan to meet once a month (to demonstrate).”
The Kellys provided a list of climate action resources for people to start their own group or get involved with one. Locally, those include Earth Rejoice, an environmental advocacy group that lists its activities at facebook.com/earthrejoice; and Sunrise Movement, which are hubs for a youth-led national organization, at sunrisemovement.org/hubs
On the state level, residents can visit 350 Connecticut, a sate chapter of a global campaign to restore the atmosphere to a safe carbon dioxide level of 350 parts per million, at 350CT.org
State Department of Energy and Environmental Protection initiatives can be found at https://bit.ly/2KT9WeN .