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Long Island group brings 'power' of parents and children to climate strike

West Babylon residents Meadow Carpitella, 17 months, and

West Babylon residents Meadow Carpitella, 17 months, and her mom Rachel took part in the Global Climate Strike in Manhattan on Friday. Credit: Shelby Knowles

Greta Thunberg had just finished addressing the big crowd in Battery Park, when Jennifer Rogers-Brown of Mothers Out Front LI, a few hundred feet from the stage, described what tied together her group and the youth-led Global Climate Strike held at sites around the world Friday.

"There's power in us as parents. And kids clearly have power collectively," Rogers-Brown of Huntington Station said, gesturing toward the stage. "It's learning how to use it."

Their group seeks to build mothers' power and mobilize "to ensure a livable climate for all children." Mothers Out Front started in Massachusetts in 2013, and the LI team began a few years ago. It has a core group of about six people, Rogers-Brown said last week.

About a half-dozen people from Mothers Out Front LI traveled to Manhattan for the climate strike, and Mothers Out Front had about two dozen at the event overall, including attendees from the city and upstate. Among them were men, kids and two strollers.

Rachel Carpitella, 30, a sustainability consultant from West Babylon, said it was her daughter Meadow's first rally, at just 17 months old.

"We're here today because my home went underwater during Hurricane Sandy, and after being climate refugees, I didn't want that for my daughter's future," she said. "And I know that for there to be a future, there needs to be clean energy."

Carpitella said she lived in a hotel room for eight weeks after the storm.

Her daughter's sign — on the front of her stroller — said she liked bananas and disliked floods and wildfire.

The other stroller was pushed by Grace Turner, 27, of Astoria, who came with her sons James, 5, and Theodore, 3.

“I brought my kids because they’re going to be the most affected by this,” she said. They also came to see Thunberg, but didn't make it long enough to see the Swedish teen climate activist, leaving in midafternoon after the march to Battery Park.

Rogers-Brown, an associate professor of sociology at LIU Post, said during the march that as a social movement sociologist, she hasn't seen this kind of youth-led culture since the 1960s, when people were getting drafted for the Vietnam War.

"Now we have a different kind of catalyst, climate change. And that's scaring people," said Rogers-Brown, 41, who has a 5-year-old son.

Russ Green of Port Jefferson said the demonstration "gives me hope. Even if what we're doing here doesn't work, at least it gives me hope."

"I don't fight it because I know we're going to win," the 50-year-old said about climate change. "I fight it because it's a climate crisis, and the survival of humanity is on the line."

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