April 22 sported several local events in honor of Earth Day. Starting at 9 a.m., Skagweigans rallied at the Alaska Marine Highway System Ferry Terminal for the municipality’s annual Clean Sweep event. After being tasked into groups to clean specific sections of the municipality, residents set out from the waterfront with bright green and yellow trash bags in tow to scoop up all the loose rubbish they could find.
After a morning of cleaning the streets, the pro bono workers grabbed a snack at the Elks Lodge just before another group yet again took to the streets.
At 1:30 p.m., a crowd of locals struck out from the Elks waving cardboard signs as they walked to drumbeats in a March for Science. Take Action Skagway – a local group that is, according to its website, working to empower the Skagway community through activism, inclusion, education and outreach – organized the march.
From the Elks, the marchers trekked over to Broadway, which they followed down towards the water all the way across the train tracks.
After the march reached its destination, resident Cory Thole spoke a few words, thanking Take Action Skagway for helping to organize the event. Thole also said that, after he became a high school science teacher in Skagway, he became truly aware that every single person is a scientist of some form.
“Whether or not you realize it or not, every time you ask a question, no matter how simple it is, you are involving yourself in the scientific process,” Thole said. “It’s a very important process, because there is not one gender, ethnicity [or] socioeconomic class that is not affected by the discoveries that science brings to us and reveals to us.” The marchers dispersed following Thole’s address; the entire event was brief, but Take Action Skagway member Candace Cahill said she was pleased with the turnout of the event, and echoed Thole’s words.
“We are all looking for truth and for answers,” Cahill said. “Science, the way that it works is to test [hypotheses], figure out what the truth is, and many people doing it…that’s how it works.”
Following the event, participants Kirsten and Sean Daniels shared their reasons for joining the march.
“I’m a tour guide and I depend on our environment to show everyone how amazing Alaska is,” Kirsten said. “I feel like we need to encourage people to try to be good caretakers of the earth, so we can do those things to share our beautiful state with everyone for many years to come.” Sean’s reasoning was more straightforward.
“I’m a member of this species and a resident of this planet,” Sean said.
Take Action Skagway will gather at Fifth and Broadway on April 29 in solidarity for the national People’s Climate March.