The chalk will wash out or be scuffed off soon, but members of Sunrise E-Town are hoping their messages will stick. Sunrise E-Town is the new name of the Evanston Township High School student group formerly known as E-Town Climate Action.

 “First we walk out, then we chalk out,” Callie Stollar, one of the organizers of the rally, wrote in a notice to the RoundTable.

The students had walked out of ETHS to participate in the Dec. 6 rally, which was one of more than 250 taking place across the country that day as part of the “Road to the Green New Deal.”

ETHS students Aldric Martinez-Olsen, one of the organizers, and Noam Hasak-Lowy spoke briefly before some two dozen students grabbed chalk and wrote messages on sidewalks in the downtown area.

Aldric wrote in the notice of the rally, “In 2018, young people put the Green New Deal on the national agenda and permanently changed the conversation on climate policy in this country. Since then, the movement backing the Green New Deal has exploded and is shaping up to be a top issue in the 2020 elections.”

Asked how he felt about the chalk-out, Aldric responded by email, “I’m very happy with our event. Although our minor form of civil disobedience was controversial and somewhat doubted, it was very thrilling to see Downtown Evanston covered in messages that urged climate action. We made sure to focus on tangible action instead of simply listening to speakers, and it was amazing to see how students I would have never expected translated their passion into powerful messages. I wish we could somehow measure our impact, but all I hope is that our messages were a wake-up call for at least a few Evanstonians.”

The Green New Deal is a resolution sponsored by Massachusetts Senator Edward Markey and New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Among its tenets are achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions through a fair and just transition for all communities and workers; creating millions of good, high-wage jobs and ensuring prosperity and economic security for all people in the United States; investing in infrastructure in industry here to sustainably meet the challenges of the 21st century; promoting justice and equity for marginalized people and communities; and “securing for all people of the United States for generations to come” clean air and water, climate and community resilience, healthy food, access to nature and a sustainable environment.

One of the mantras of the climate strikes and rallies of 2019 has been “11 years.” The 73rd high-level meeting on climate and sustainable development, held last March by the United Nations General Assembly, focused on “protecting the climate for future generations in the context of the economic, social and environmental dimensions of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”

General Assembly President María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés of Ecuador warned in her opening remarks,  “We are the last generation that can prevent irreparable damage to our planet” and said that only 11 years remain to avert catastrophe, according to the United Nations website.

The 11-year mark may signify the beginning of the end. Nearly a year ago, in a Dec, 25, 2018, blog at, science writer and NASA researcher Kate Marvel wrote, “Climate change isn’t a cliff we fall off, but a slope we slide down.”

Mary Gavin is the founder of the Evanston RoundTable. After 23 years as its publisher and manager, she helped transition the RoundTable to nonprofit status in 2021. She continues to write, edit, mentor...