The vast College Green was left devastated following a Youth Strike 4 Climate rally held in Bristol, England.
Oh the irony, hundreds of people turning up to talk about our planet dying end up destroying a green area. Greta Thunberg has been a champion of saving planet Earth. A new climate icon, she has galvanized the fight for laws to combat manmade climate change. Unfortunately, it appears that her fan following may not be as climate-friendly as they think they are. A Youth Strike 4 Climate rally held on College Green in Bristol, England, ended up damaging several square feet of green cover, the BBC reports. An estimated 15,000 people were in attendance. The sizeable number of people coupled with the wet weather turned the vast grassy area into a sludge of mud and residents are not happy. A good samaritan has since created a fundraising campaign in order to restore the area.
Climate campaigner Thunberg delivered a speech at College Green prior to leading a march around the city of Bristol. Thousands of people attended the event in order to listen to hear speech, which ultimately destroyed the public space. The incident was brought to light when hundreds of residents expressed their outrage. One resident stated, "After a fundraiser was established to cover repair expenses, they called on the organizers of the Youth 4 Climate event to pay for the costs involved in restoring the grassy area. However, the organizers simply stated that attendees had done their best given the muddy weather conditions. Kai Damani, one of the event's organizers, said, "When you look at College Green now, most of it is completely brown but where the flowers are is completely intact which does show that people do care about wildlife."
The fundraiser was created by Jon Usher, the head of partnerships at Sustrans, a charity based in Bristol. He set up a fundraising campaign on the crowdfunding platform GoFundMe following the rally, with the aim to raise £20,000. This is about $25,540. By Sunday morning, he had already managed to raise £9,000, or about $11,500. Usher, who had attended the Youth Strike 4 Climate rally, stated in an interview with the BBC, "I did it knowing how important the green is to our staff as a place to go in the spring and summertime. I thought it would be nice to give something back to the city." Meanwhile, Bristol City Council, which is responsible for taking care of the area, affirmed it would survey College Green on Monday. They affirmed in a tweet, "Bristolians are great. We will assess the damage next week. If there are any funds left over after repairs we will use it for wildflower areas across the city. Thank you, Jon Usher, for organizing."
College Green is a public open space in Bristol. Owned by the Dean and Chapter of Bristol Cathedral, it has become a place for many to come together and relax. Losing College Green would be a huge loss both for the environment as well as the community overall. Though Avon and Somerset Police had raised concerns about safety prior to the event, the rally went on without a hitch (bar the environmental damage). Thunberg is yet to release a statement about the outcome of her event. Hopefully, College Green will soon be restored to its original beauty.