My favorite sign in the #phillystrikesback Youth Climate Strike yesterday (September 20, 2019) was “Think about the brisket,” carried by a young man wearing a kippah. He was in the middle of a group that looked like they were students at a local Jewish school. What I liked about the sign was its pointed inside subtlety. Yes, raising beef inflicts a lot of damage on the environment and diverts resources that could be used to feed many more people at less cost. But does that mean I have to stop ordering brisket at Schlesinger’s on Locust Street?
Think about it. That’s what the young people of the world asked us to do yesterday. They expect us then to do something.
Another thiink-about-it but mildly amusing incident occurred as I worked my way through the crowd assembling on the north side of Philadelphia’s City Hall for the rally to begin. I was wearing my usual Brooklyn Dodger hat to keep the sun off my bald head. Most people under 40 ask if the B stands for “Boston.” As I passed a man my age in the crowd, he obviously recognized the hat and said “Nice hat.” I looked at the banner, one end of which he was holding. It read “Communist Party of PA and DE.” I replied “Nice sign.” I don’t know if he got the irony that we both support the dreams of our youth.
By the time the organizers started the speeches half an hour later, my poor knees and hips were giving out. At first I thought I would have to leave early, but I found a place to sit. I couldn’t hear the speeches clearly, but I was able to rest long enough that I could join the march when it started a little after noon. We walked from City Hall down 15th Street to Locust, turned to walk along the side of the Academy of Music, where Laura and I used to go to the opera, and then turned again to head up Broad Street towards City Hall (pictured above).
I’ve been in a number of street demonstrations in my time, but I noticed something unique about Philadelphia as we walked down 15th Street. Because it’s not a wide boulevard and because of the tall buildings on either side, our chants echoed much more loudly than I’d heard elsewhere. When we reached City Hall again and were massed between the old Wanamaker Building and City Hall, the reverberations even more powerfully reinforced the sentiments of our chants.
As we say, “This is what democracy looks like.”