ITHACA, N.Y.—Local activists and community members rallied at the Bernie Milton Pavilion Friday afternoon to demand action with the Ithaca Green New Deal.

In attendance was Luis Aguirre-Torres, sustainability director for the City of Ithaca, as well as Sunrise Ithaca, Ithaca High School’s Green Team, the Learning Farm and the Ithaca Democratic Socialists of America, among other local individuals.

Siobhan Hull, coordinator for Sunrise Ithaca, said that “a lot of work needs to be done around implementation, which is a huge part of it. The Green New Deal has a ton of lofty goals, and that’s what the rally is about.”

This rally is one of hundreds occurring around the world as part of the Global Climate Strike that calls for transformative justice for marginalized communities that experience disproportionate harm from climate crises.

One of the first speakers, Jaoquín Lira, an Ithaca High School librarian, began by holding up a flag with a globe on it. The globe on the flag had holes slashed in the middle.

“I wanted to show you, quickly, the state of Mother Earth right now in my opinion,” Lira said. “We’ve gotta do something quickly to get to work and repair and spread the word that time is of the essence.”

Lira also noted that Earth Day Ithaca is coming up on April 22, “Earthaca” as he likes to call it, should be celebrated every day.

Ithaca High School student Simon Cohen spoke about the importance of recognizing marginalized communities and the exacerbated effects they feel from climate change.

“The biggest problem white westerners have is the inability to see the forest for the trees,” they said. “They see things that stand in for yet obfuscate class antagonism. Take climate change, the shock people experience when seeing how dire climate change has become is very real and understandable, but they fail to see the root cause.”

The problem, Cohen believes, is not just switching over-consuming tendencies to more ethically compassionate ones, but rather that profit has been prioritized over helping the planet with resources, infrastructures and technologies we already have.

Another topic of interest at Friday’s rally was the “Free-CAT,” an initiative Jane Glaubman of the Ithaca Democratic Socialists of America is working on to expand TCAT’s free services to help reduce Ithaca’s carbon footprint. “It would improve lives, especially for the working class, elderly, disabled, and poor people, not to mention kids.”

Closing out the rally was Aguirre-Torres, perhaps the most central figure of the local Green New Deal’s implementation, who spoke on the importance of continuing to show up and fight for change, including having difficult conversations with those who might not believe it’s important. “We’re going to keep doing this forever, because it’s not going to change tomorrow, but we’re not going away tomorrow.”

Zoë Freer-Hessler

Zoë Freer-Hessler is a general assignment reporter for the Ithaca Voice. She has covered a wide range of topics since joining the news organization in November 2021. She can be reached at