Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Sierra Club impact felt in Climate Marches across Florida

Thousands of Floridians marched, rallied and biked for climate justice last Saturday. Sierra Club staff and volunteers organized, supported and participated in 22 events across the Sunshine State, including Mar-A-Lago, Trump's so-called Winter White House.

The mass-mobilization was organized by many organizations. Some were led by the Sierra Club and allies like, Surfrider and Environment Florida, some by climate justice organizations like Organize Florida and the Miami Climate Alliance, some by resistance groups like Indivisible and Women's March, and some were organized by teams of groups and individuals, alike. There are too many to name. A special note of thanks to Kimberly Miller who quickly organized a great event in Jacksonville with the Sierra Club Northeast FL group.

Sierra Club convened statewide weekly coordination calls for the month preceding, so staff or volunteers from a variety of organizations could compare notes, receive information and be part of a unified Florida effort. Sierra Club encouraged every major and mid-sized city to participate.  Our Florida Sierra Club volunteers and staff worked directly on individual marches and on statewide media and outreach.

March to Mar-A-Lago, West Palm Beach

A crowd of around 500 gathered for the People’s Climate March on Mar-a-Lago.  The march kicked off with a rally across the water from Mar-a-Lago at George Petty Park . The Rally consisted of a series of speakers including:  Laura Morales of the Citizens Climate Lobby, Rabbi Barry Silver on behalf of the Palm Beach County Environmental Alliance and Congregation L ' Dor Va-Dor, Alex Newell Taylor of the Florida’s Women’s March, Patrick Ferguson of  Sierra Club Florida, and David Gibson of Peace, Justice, Sustainability Florida, along with musical performances by Allegra Miles and the “Raging Grannies.” Participants then marched on Trump’s "Winter Whitehouse" of Mar-a-Lago to demand climate change solutions and an end to climate change denial! Sierra Club organizer Patrick Ferguson was a speaker at the rally and was quoted in the Palm Beach Post the next day.

Protesters march past Mar-A-Lago (in background).  Image by Derick Dublin.

Sierra Club banner waves at Mar-A-Lago march
Hundreds gather before the march to Mar-A-Lago. Photo by Steve Hawes.

Media: Palm Beach Post, CBS 12


In Miami, several hundred marched from Little Havana's Jose Marti Park, which experienced extensive flooding last year due to sea level rise, to the Lyric Theater in Overtown, Miami's historic African-American community. The event was organized by the Miami Climate Alliance. Five musical groups represented Miami's diverse communities at the event. Some of the props included a two-person operated Polar Bear and a Green Bus. There was also a 45-foot black snake, with the words FPL and Sabal Trail on the side, representing the Florida power company's interest in a fracked gas pipeline being built through the state.

Marching down the streets of Miami. Photo by Raul Swinderman
Photo by Jon Ullman

Photo by Blanca Mesa

Media: Miami HeraldCBS 4, FOX 7

Tampa Bay

On the hottest April day on record, over 500 residents of the Tampa Bay region rallied and marched in downtown Tampa at the Tampa Bay Peoples' Climate March. The event was organized Organize Florida and a broad coalition of local, state and national environmental and health care organizations and kicked off the Mayors for 100% Clean Energy campaign for the city. 500+ signed Sierra Club's petition asking Mayor Bob Buckhorn to join his peers in supporting a vision of 100% clean energy for Tampa's community, and over 80 wrote handwritten letters to the mayor. Sierra Club Florida Chapter Director Frank Jackalone was a speaker at the event.

Preparing for the March. Photo by Jose Barriga

Photo by Jose Barriga

Hundreds march through downtown Tampa. Photo by Jose Barriga

Press: Tampa Bay TimesWMNF-FM (preview podcast), FOX 13, CBS 10, Bay News 9, ABC Action News, (w/ Sierra comments/members), NBC 8 (w/ sierra comments), SaintPetersBlog (Sierra Club Chapter Director Frank Jackalone quoted)

Ft. Lauderdale

Nearly 600 people rallied and marched in Fort Lauderdale. A rally was held at George English Park, followed by a march along Sunrise Blvd toward the beach on A1A that had been destroyed by Hurricane Sandy.  Event was led by Women’s March Florida, with support from Sierra Club and other organizations. Diana Umpierre, Sierra organizer for Everglades Restoration campaign and President of International Dark-Sky Association, shared her reasons for marching and for hope. Other rally speakers included Emma Collum (Executive Director of Women’s March FL), Tim Canova (Progress for All), Louis Merlin, Rebecca Harvey (Citizens’ Climate Lobby), Kelsey Reider (climate change biologist), Dr. Keren Prize-Bolter (sea level rise expert), Richard WhiteCloud (sea turtle conservationist), Paola Espitia (marine biologist) and several panel speakers representing indigenous, black and other environmental justice communities.

Marching along Sunrise Blvd, toward A1A (beach). Photo by Garrin Evan/

Protesters holding Sierra signs to resist Trump’s hate and demand climate action now. Photo by Diana Umpierre/ Sierra Club.

Rally at Ft Lauderdale beach, along section of AIA that had been destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. Photo by Diana Umpierre/ Sierra Club.


On Saturday, April 29th, Organize Florida and its allies gathered to march for jobs, justice, and climate in the Pine Hills community.  The march ignited change by lifting up the voices of the Pine Hills community and those most impacted by climate change- communities of color and low-income communities. The march closed with a healing circle, and a community event that included food, performances, yoga, and activities for kids. The message is clear, climate action must be rooted in Racial, Economic, and Gender Justice. 

Photo by Ricardo Williams

Photo: Organize Florida
WMFE 90.7, Windmere Sun


Despite heat stroke potential in the air, over 300 people participated in solidarity efforts to raise attention to the National Climate Movement.  A diversified group of citizens representing health, labor, bi-partisan politics, environment and community came together for the first time to build relationships that will have a lasting purpose of alliance. They marched through searing temperatures shouting chants for justice, peace and healing in a troubled world. Shana Smith, local community builder, emceed the event with facts about our global climate crisis and songs such as "This Land is Your Land" and her own local rendition of "Paradise".  Speakers included  Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson a Sierra Club Organizer, Wes Wheeler of the Gainesville Solar CoOp, Mayor Lauren Poe, Alachua County Commissioner Ken Cornell and poet E. Stanley Richardson.

Gainesville People's Climate Sister March, photo by John Moran

Shana Smith, community builder and chantress, emceed the event, photo by John Moran
Press: WCJB Channel 20


In the midst of an old southern city, more than 300 motivated souls came together in Pensacola to stand for action on climate change. We marched, chanted, sang, and danced in celebration of our living planet and the transition to clean energy. A most memorable part of the March was when dozens of marchers, from children to elders, came forward to tell their personal stories of why they marched. From children and grandchildren, to the wonders of a living planet, for justice, for the health of wildlife--there were many beautiful and powerful stories told. The event was organized by 350 Pensacola.

Photo by Community Unlimited, Facebook.

Photo by Community Unlimited, Facebook.

Photo by Community Unlimited, Facebook.

Press: WUWF 88.1 FM, SANDSpaper 


Hundreds of Sarasota County climate activists rallied along US 41 at Bayfront Park to clamor for an end to our dependence on dirty fuels and a move toward green energy on the gulf coast. The event focused on the local Ready for 100 % clean energy initiative for the City of Sarasota, where residents are preparing to take their fight to the city commission on June 5. The event was organized by the Sarasota Climate Justice Coalition.
Sarasota rallies for climate justice and clean energy

Sierra Club's Lynn Nilssen speaks to the crowd


For Our Future, Sierra Club, Green Party, New Town Urban Farm and other organizations joined together to discuss local environmental injustices here in Jacksonville. We heard from Nathaniel Borden of Fairway Oaks Homeowners Association who are fighting the City of Jacksonville and Habijax for building homes on a known contaminated site. Janet Stanko and Karen Morian talked about state based legislation against fracking and sea level rise. Together, we took a stand just one week after Earth Day - and on Donald Trump’s 100th day in office -  to take the first steps in building a long-term grassroots movement that will fight for bold climate action to protect our communities, city and planet. We look forward to the work we will do together.

Group gathers at New Town Urban Farm in Jacksonville. Photo by Kimberly Miller.

Listening to Environmental Justice activists at New Town Urban Farm. Photo by Kimberly Miller.
Press: News 4 Jax

Ft. Myers

Ft. Myers residents rallied at Centennial Park and marched to the Edison Bridge and back. Organized by A.J. Amedure and Ruth Scott of the Sierra Club Calusa Group.



On the steps of the Florida Capitol, more than 100 people and a dancing manatee turned out for a rally organized by Surfrider Florida and the Big Bend Group of the Sierra Club.

A crowd gathers at the State Capitol.

In Florida, the beloved Manatee is threatened by climate change.

St. Petersburg

More than 100 people rallied and marched in St Petersburg in solidarity to People's Climate March in DC. Rally speakers included St. Petersburg City Council Chair Darden Rice.

Photo by Michael Fox, Facebook

Flagler Beach

The "Rally by the Sea" was the sister Climate March event  in Flagler Beach.The march over the Flagler bridge was attended by over 200 people, empowering their message of support . The rally continued at Veterans park with passionate speakers  addressing climate change, social justice, equal rights, plastic bag pollution, and jobs. This was the first event in Flagler in many years and attendance was encouraging. Coquina Coast Democratic Progressive Caucus and Sierra Club Volusia-Flagler Group with support from other groups and individuals.

Crowd turns out on Flagler Beach.

Sierra Club booth at Rally by the Sea on Flagler Beach

Press: Flagler Live


About 200 people came out to a People’s Climate event by the Collier County Government Complex in Naples, FL. They rallied and waved signs to passing motorists who were really positive to them. Event was organized by Indivisible Collier with support from other groups and concerned citizens.

Photo by Jeanne Emerick

The Villages

In Florida's Trump-friendly retirement enclave, The Villages, climate protesters organized a flash-mob.


91 people attended a rally and forum at the Sebring Civic Center.

Photo by Highland County Democrats, Facebook

Key West

Hosted by Women's March Florida-Florida Keys Chapter and City of Key West - Preserve Island Life Campaign. Mayor Cates spoke about what the City has been doing about Climate Change. Also present: Trophia Buterfly Foundation, Monroe County Extension Service, Florida Keys Outreach Coalition and Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority.

The southernmost Climate March in the U.S.

Pasco and Pinellas County Bike Rides

In Pasco and Pinellas Counties, over 20 people participated in bike rides (Bike CD12) as part of People's Climate March. Areas involved included: Lake Tarpon, Clearwater/ Safety Harbor, Odessa, New Port Richey and Dade City. According to the lead organizer, Elize Mysels with Pasco Activists, the most valuable outcome of this effort was the new connections made, which has even led to some of them uniting to take action on some local issues.

New Port Richie Bike ride. Photo courtesy of  Pasco Activists