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Fighting for nature, activists solo but not alone

'We all knew how lonely solo striking could be, we want to help people see that they're not alone,' says founder activist

Burak Bir   | 10.04.2020
Fighting for nature, activists solo but not alone


Though many environmental activists across the world are running their own solo efforts to raise awareness on climate change and protect nature, they are not alone. 

Protesting to stem deforestation for a livable planet and healthy future, solo activists or strikers from different parts of the world have been gathering under the online "Solo But Not Alone" umbrella network.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Grace Maddrell, a co-founder of the group, said the aim of launching the group was to show that every individual was important and to help solo activists share their own stories.

"We all knew how lonely solo striking could be, we wanted to help people see that they're not alone and uplift their voices, share their stories," the 14-year-old activist said.

Underlining that there was little time before climate change became irreversible as many people already face the devastating results of the crisis, Maddrell said everyone, wherever or whatever they were, was important in this fight.

Three solo strikers from the U.S., Uganda, and Russia recounted their stories to Anadolu Agency.

Striking in US for Congo rainforest

Sixteen-year-old Gabby from the U.S. has been striking for the Congo rainforest, as well as indigenous rights and global climate justice, since the last December.

Inspired by like-minded activists in launching her solo quest, she said: "I went downtown to spread the word with a friend. However, after that, I was on my own."

"My generation will not be praying for a revolution, it will be fighting in one. This revolution will be green," added Gabby.

Having received both encouragement and backlash, she said that she was once called "cult member" and "eco-terrorist", while others praised her activism for the planet.

"The Congo Rainforest and its flora and fauna must be protected from exploitation and deforestation. That climate justice will be granted to all," she said, adding that colonization and imperialism would "end permanently."

Gabby noted that solo striking mattered because of the absence of a mass display of support. "Being alone doesn't really make you the only one fighting for a great cause. Even one person can make a difference," she said.

The tropical forests of the Congo Basin, which faces huge threat of deforestation, are the second-largest in the world, surpassed only by the Amazon rainforest in South America.

Disaster-induced striking

Mulindwa Moses, a 23-year-old climate activist from Uganda, said he started to strike after witnessing a young girl lose her family due to floods and landslides in the eastern part of the country.

"When I went back home, I did research about the increased landslides and floods and droughts in Uganda and I found out that it's because of climate change, and I was stressed by the fact that there are no reports about it in our local media. So, I decided to take action -- started striking to create massive awareness among the public," he said.

Moses has been striking to preserve the Congo rainforest since last September, and has since launched the Two Trees A Week campaign as part of a push for reforestation in Uganda.

Since the political climate in the country often makes it more difficult to protest in mass gatherings, Moses said this was why solo striking helped him raise awareness on climate change.

"I demand our governments to accurately portray the climate and ecological crisis to the general public and declare a global climate emergency," he said, adding that he had also received both positive and negative reactions -- including many "horrible things" when holding up his sign in the street.

"Sometimes, it feels lonely. But, I'm always happy to do it because I feel morally obligated to do things that are very important in life -- like fighting for nature," he said.

Support from all around the world

Anastasia Glazkova, 19 years old and solo striker from Russia, said she "immediately" agreed when offered to participate in Solo But Not Alone.

She is also striking as part of Fridays for Future movement and for the Congo rainforest.

"I received a lot of solidarity and support from the people of this project, for which I am very grateful. They use the right and necessary words, talking about the participants (as it seems to me), encouraging and supporting them," she said.

Glazkova stressed the importance of solo activism, saying they helped people who could not easily find others with whom to go on strike for the climate. "But, seeing other people with their single strikes, you understand that you can start alone, and others will support you," she said.

She went on to say that when striking solo, support comes from all around the world, even if others in your city or town did not join in.

Like many political, economic, sports and cultural events, climate demonstrations have been affected by the coronavirus outbreak. However, not all demonstrations have stopped.

Environmental groups and climate activists around the world, including solo strikers, continue via digital activism.

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