A group of demonstrators marched in Elwood Saturday to show support for climate justice and jobs.
The protest, as staged, was part of a national movement to bring greater awareness to climate change.
Demonstrators took to the streets of Elwood, right off O’Connor Park at Dear Run Road, carrying signs saying they support the climate movement.
“We all know that we are working on one of the most important issues there is,” said Susan Hurley, executive director of Chicago Jobs with Justice. “We’ve got to start to building together a future that we can thrive in, both as workers and as people living in clean, healthy communities and in vibrant, health economies.”
Elwood resident Amy Walsh said she wants to see new and better change in the community.
Walsh is one of the leaders of Just Say No to Northpoint, a group set up to advocate against a proposed warehouse development planned for Elwood. She said the village has changed a lot over the years and not for the better.
“Our starry nights have been replaced by the glow of the railroads, our farm fields are being plowed over for concrete warehouses, our quiet, country backroads are paved and striped to accommodate higher volumes of traffic,” she said.
Among the groups represented at the demonstration were the Will County Progressives, Sierra Club of Illinois and People for Community Recovery.
Cheryl Johnson, executive director of People for Community Recovery, said something has to give with corporate America.
“They got to be more equitable,” she said, referring to warehouse developments. “They got to be more safe for the community.”
Johnson acknowledged that 40 years ago, people weren’t talking of climate justice as they are in today’s world and said people are beginning to understand the cause “is inclusive of our health, our land, our community, our jobs, and most importantly, our future.”
The protest in Elwood was coupled with an event, held a few hours earlier in downtown Chicago.
From Amazon to Northpoint, a number of warehouse developments have looked into establishing roots in northeastern Illinois. What’s more is Will County is home to the nation’s largest inland port in North America.
Hurley said that having these companies only offering low-wage, temporary employment is bad for the workers and the communities.
Ann Baskerville, of Sierra Club of Illinois, said it’s deeply concerning to know that warehouse developments are coming on line to place dollars and cents over the people and their quality of life.
“I worry about the children in my family and my neighbors’ and friends’ children,” she said.
Sierra Club of Illinois is urging for a transition to electric vehicles followed by clean, renewable energy.
“As solar energy increases in Illinois, let’s harness the power of the sun to power a new generation of manufacturing and good union, family-supporting jobs,” Baskerville said.
Baskerville added, “Let’s demand an economy that puts people and planet first instead of corporate giants.”
Hurley said it is no longer acceptable for people to find themselves choosing between jobs and climate justice.
“We need jobs and climate justice,” she said. “Living-wage, union jobs in a green economy with a green, energy infrastructure that is the future we are demanding,” she said. “Together, we can win it.”