It’s no surprise that students on American college campuses have been working for years — if not decades — to enact more climate friendly policies on their campuses, in their states and across the country. Though these efforts are usually done independently of one other, on Oct. 2, students nationwide will come together to rally for climate justice. At over 50 colleges across the United States, students will host events that aim to bring together activists, politicians, celebrities and their fellow students.
According to its website, these rallies are part of a Day of Action organized by student-led environmental action campaign Know Tomorrow. Know Tomorrow, a nonprofit organization that seeks to spread awareness about climate change, is part of a collaboration between Cool Globes and the Climate Reality Project, which works to organize global citizens “mobilizing action around climate change,” according to a Sept. 10 press release from the organization. In Boston, the Day of Action event, organized by Tufts senior Ben Silver, will be a free music festival that also features speakers on climate change.
“My background is really [in] music, but climate change action is something I’m [also] passionate about,” Silver said.
For Silver, organizing the event brought together these two interests.
“Five or six years ago, I would table for [Cool Globes] at environmental expos,” he said. “Then…they started this new project where they wanted to synchronize campus activism and really create a unified voice about climate change. One day they reached out to me and asked if I would organize their event in Boston.”
Festival lineup includes Massachusetts senator, Tufts band
Working with a team of other Boston-area students, Silver organized a festival, which was originally planned to take place outdoors on Boston Common, but has since been moved to the nearby Ritz-Carlton Grand Ballroom due to predicted inclement weather. With help from his team, Silver has been working to book bands, speakers and sponsors since the summer.
“We have artists coming from [Los Angeles], D.C…so I’ve been in charge of doing the booking, making contracts and offers to artists,” Silver said. “I’ve been in charge of sponsorship, getting people to pay and fund the festival…[working] with our PR company, organizing the speaker schedule…and also trying to tie in the cause.”
The lineup includes local and national acts such as Will Dailey, Outasight and Speedy Ortiz, while Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey and Harvard professor James Engall are among the speakers. Student musicians Kate Diaz and Natalie Joly will also perform, as will a new Tufts band, currently playing under the name Starcatcher.
The band consists of seniors Melissa Weikart and Erik Broess, backed by junior Aidan Scrimgreour, senior Gabe Terracciano and sophomore Jackson Fulk-Logon — Broess’ bandmates from his other project, Blue Ives.
“We started playing together a year ago, and we’d just jam on covers and some original songs,” Weikart said. “And then this summer, we started to craft what we wanted…the vibe of the project [to be].”
“It’s basically like jazz harmony with a funk and hip-hop beat and soul,” Broess said of the band’s sound.
Though this is the first live show the band will be playing together, Broess and Weikart didn’t seem fazed by the size of the event.
“The two of us [Broess and Weikart]…have been performing for a year now, but this is our first time playing a show of all original music, with the stuff that we rehearsed and [with] the band behind us. So I’m just kind of excited because it completely changed the sound from when we were playing open mic nights or jazz standards gigs,” Broess said.
Broess hopes that performers and attendees alike will keep in mind the importance of gathering all these various people together at the music festival.
“People come out to hear music; they come out to support their friends, but at the same time, music can convey a message,” Broess said. “You can find musicians who are not only dedicated to showing up and being there but [to] actually using their music as a vehicle to create change,” Broess said.
Silver cited singer-songwriter Kate Diaz as one such performer whose music directly addresses environmental activism.
“I think what we see in music is that a lot of artists that become brands have very specific causes that their brand communicates, but [that] their music does not,” Silver said. “This is why we’re excited to have a few student artists perform [who] write climate justice songs … Having people that are still penning songs and writing creative music relating to the cause is cool.”
Balancing music with politics
While Silver handled the music and PR aspects of the project, two of his areas of expertise, the other students on his team came from an environmental justice background. According to Silver, their experiences working on renewable energy, sustainable resources and climate activism helped engage the community and integrate the two goals of the event.
Junior Shana Gallagher, who is a member of Tufts Climate Action, worked on Silver’s team. She ran a campus representative program that aimed to spread awareness about the event and strengthen Know Tomorrow’s ties with other environmental groups such as the Citizen’s Climate Lobby and the Student Divestment Network. In addition, a new student initiative will also begin at Friday’s event.
“This Know Tomorrow [Day of Action] will be the launch site for a new student movement: calling for a price on carbon,” Gallagher told the Daily in an email. “Economists agree that pricing carbon is the most effective way to reduce emissions, not to mention to address the fundamental flaw of the fossil fuel industry being allowed to profit from destroying the environment.”
“Everyone can get behind this cause”
Though the Day of Action will be replete with free music and food for college students, Silver’s ultimate goal of the event is to teach attendees about steps they can take to support climate action and advance environmental legislation. He hopes that the event will inspire attendees and partner organizations to share a unified mindset.
“I feel like climate change is something that everyone should care about, but not everyone does, especially on college campuses,” Silver said. “I think past movements have been sort of alienating, whether through civil disobedience and protests and other things that can sort of…polarize these organizations from this cause, which really everyone should care about. So [I’m] trying to create a fun event that has broad appeal, so that everyone can get behind this cause.”
“Know Tomorrow is effective because it has a message of hope and optimism — not doom and gloom — and recognizes the exciting opportunity of this generation to face the gravest challenge humanity has ever known,” Gallagher said. “The climate crisis is real and daunting, but so is the power of youth to unite for our planet and for justice.”
The Know Tomorrow music and climate festival will take place this Friday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Ritz-Carlton Grand Ballroom; the Tremont Street entrance will be open to the general public.