Arielle Martinez Cohen began her invovlment with activist groups at the age of 17. The first group she joined was March For Our Lives and currently is with Dark Zero Hour. She fights for evironmental change and social justice. Cohen is a senior at New West Charter School. She plans to major in music in college, "I love writing about social justice. I do a mixture kind of folk kind of alternative, singer songer writer genre. But also I want to focus study social justice even Sociology," said Cohen. Photo was taken in Santa Monica College Center Media of Desogn on March 07, 2019. (Yasser Marte/Corsair Staff)

by Pyper Don Witt
SMC Corsair / Daily Press Staff Writer

Like many high school seniors, Arielle Martinez-Cohen has just finished her college applications but the 17-year-old singer-songwriter, activist and head of the Zero Hour Partnerships team has also been busy organizing the climate strike in Los Angeles, planned for Friday, March 15.

“I’ve always been passionate about environmental issues, and I’ve been lucky because my parents have helped me learn about climate change when I was growing up,” said Martinez-Cohen.

The young activist joined Zero Hour, a movement platform founded by 17-year-old Jaime Margolin, a year ago after being disappointed with the lack of youth working on with local climate change movements.

“It’s just nice to talk to people your own age when you’re organizing,” said Martinez-Cohen. “So, when I heard about them, I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I want to get involved,’ and I had the song that I wrote, so I reached out to Jaime, the founder, and she really liked the song and we made it the official song of the movement.”

The song, “Two Minutes to Midnight,” is an original composition by Martinez-Cohen and can be found on all music platform outlets.

Zero Hour began 2018 before the first Youth Climate March and has since gained traction as a youth-led organization with over 40 partnering organizations which include the Sierra Club, 350.org and the Indigenous Environmental Network. Martinez-Cohen learned about Zero Hour through a CNN interview with Margolin regarding an op-ed she sent to one of her local politicians about climate change.

After Martinez-Cohens’ transition into Zero Hour, she quickly started to organize youth marches around Los Angeles.

“I organized the Youth March in LA, but I also went to Washington D.C. to participate in the national march,” said Martinez-Cohen.

This year Zero Hour is partnering with the US Climate Strike, and Martinez-Cohen has been working closely with the Co-State Lead of the California chapter, 19-year-old Austin Michael.

“Striking is inherently non-accessible, if you can’t strike, wear green,” said Michael on the stance for those who can’t walk out due to attendance; or for those who wish to participate in “weekly strikes,” which were started by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old political activist from Sweden who is leading the frontier in Europe for its climate strikes.

Thunberg has been invited to a Zero Hour summit in Miami this summer.

“We wanted to show support, you know solidarity, that were all in this together, even though we live in different countries and what not,” said Martinez-Cohen.

There will be climate strikes throughout the country set for Friday, March 15. In California specifically, Michael listed several cities, including San Francisco, Oakland, North Bay, Berkeley, Huntington Beach, Laguna beach, Santa Barbara, San Diego, Chico, and Santa Cruz.

The Los Angeles strike will be staged at City Hall in Downtown, and although the times are still uncertain, Martinez-Cohen said that they are most likely going to go from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. There will be art, music, speakers, and tables where people can find out about other organizations around LA. In a press release organizers said they expect 100,000 youth to participate in these strikes around the country.

“People ask us ‘Why do you have to skip school? You have to learn, don’t make the teachers lose money.’ And as much as I care about all that stuff, it’s also important that we make a statement,” said Martinez-Cohen. “We want to make a statement. We want to share our message.”

Zero Hour said one of its core beliefs as an organization is to “focus on intersectionality,” and to accomplish that, they need to have a diverse team.

“All our national leadership is exclusively young women, which I think is really cool,” said Michael. “In our state leads there is a lot of young women of color as well … This just totally happened organically.”

The movement does not only focus on rising sea levels and carbon emissions; it also focuses greatly on who will be affected and how to protect these groups when disaster happens.

“It disproportionately affects people of color, disabled people, and people of lower incomes…” said Martinez-Cohen. “If there are scarce resources or there’s a natural disaster, those with lower incomes can’t get out as quickly, you know? They won’t be able to go and stay at a hotel. We call that a just transition.”

Zero Hour and the California Youth Climate Strike encourage local youth to become part of the organization as well.

“We said 25 [years old] is the cut off for working in our core team,” said Martinez-Cohen. “We think that because climate change will affect youth the most, we think that it’s integral that we’re leading the movement.”

 

This story is published as part of a partnership between the SMC Corsair Student newspaper and the Santa Monica Daily Press.

 

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