Last Friday (17th May) we took to Levenshulme market, clipboards in hand, gathering signatures for the petition calling for Manchester City Council to declare a Climate Emergency. An unexpectedly balmy evening for Manchester drew crowds to the stalls selling street food, plants, and local produce. As people thronged the square tucking into delicious smelling veggie dinners we were initially worried about that we would be disrupting their evenings.
On the contrary, however, we were met with genuine enthusiasm. From students, to art teachers, to local young families, people were not just eager to sign but had a lot to say to us. Commuters raised concerns about how they felt forced to use their cars for journeys which should otherwise be taken on public transport if it were more affordable. Young people spoke to use about their disillusionment with their lack of education on climate change.
Most movingly, however, was the Mancunion pride which wanted to see this vibrant city once again leading way in social change. There was no squeamishness about holding the council to account. As vegetarian pad thai and samosas and amber pints were passed around to free up hands to sign, we saw the real progress of the idea of the ‘climate emergency’. It was a given for nearly everyone we met that immediate action was really needed. That sacrifices and serious changes were coming. We had expected to be able to persuade a few sympathetic ears on leaving the market, however people beckoned us over, marching up to us hand outstretched for a pen. Then passing the petition down the queue of waiting customers. There was a cheerful recognition that our goal was not a distraction but a part of their evening; something essential which could not be ignored.
Sophie and Lauren…
(Climate Emergency Manchester would like to thank Jen, Sophie and Lauren – obvs, Paul and all the people who signed the petition on the night. It was a fab evening!).