On Saturday, Oct 28, we marched in solidarity with NY Renews and hundreds of New Yorkers to demonstrate regional support for action on climate. The day began with a series of speakers, all of whom were impacted by Superstorm Sandy 5 years ago. The commitment to justice was palpable throughout the day. We heard from young leaders living in frontline communities, a mother who nearly lost her daughter when her ceiling collapsed from the storm, and an activist who is descended from the original inhabitants of New York – long before colonization forever changed the landscape.

The marched was headed up by young people from frontline environmental justice communities and those whose communities were the hardest hit. Just behind them were survivors of the storm from other parts of the city, then first responders. The rest of the crowd followed. The marching orders were intended to mirror effective practices within the environmental and social justice communities wherein those whose voices are marginalized in the mainstream, are promoted.

The next day, we stood with coalition partners like GreenFaith, Sierra Club, Environment NJ, the League of Conservation Voters and a cadre of forces in New Jersey at Hands Across the Boards to tell our elected officials that we want New Jersey to take action on climate before it’s too late. The stormy weather, a distinct shift from Saturday’s warm sunny day, forced the event inside and acted as a stark reminder that we’re in for more variable weather and stronger storms if we don’t take action now.

Joe Mangino, co-founder of the New Jersey Organizing Project, an organization founded and run by Sandy survivors from South Jersey, spoke on the long-term impact on families who were displaced by the storm. Unable to get back into their homes, many families are still struggling financially, mentally, and physically from the stress of being displaced and the negligent response from the state, as highlighted in the recent research report, The Long Road Home.

The event, originally intended to stretch across the Asbury Park boardwalk in a show of solidarity and commitment to action, ended with a packed room holding hands during a moment of silence to remember the impact of Superstorm Sandy and reflect on how we can improve policies to protect our shores from future storms.