On November 18, people from both sides of the bay gathered in front of the state building in downtown Oakland to dedicate items in a time capsule ceremony organized by Sunrise Movement, a youth-led group that educates young people about taking action on climate change in their communities. The Bay Area chapter does this through activities like a climate vigil they held at Lake Merritt to honor those affected by climate change, a training day for new members to learn the skills involved in organizing, and group attendance at representatives’ town halls and fundraiser meetings.
The Sunrise organizers chose that date for their “Day of Dedication,” as they called it, so that it would follow the end of the United Nations conference on climate change, where California’s Governor Jerry Brown, a former Oakland mayor, was a speaker. The time capsule is meant to get Brown’s attention, and to motivate people to take action to prevent further climate damage to their communities.
Approximately 35 people stepped to the large collection box and placed the small, cylindrical time capsules inside. These capsules contained their dedicated items—ranging from a keychain, to a song, to a scarf tied in a friendship knot. Each person chose their item because it symbolized something that might be lost as storms and droughts become more frequent and intense, sea-levels rise, and pollution worsens. The protesters also included a letter to Brown imploring him to consider his climate legacy.
Jake Soiffer, 21, a sociology student at UC Berkeley, dedicated a prescription bottle because, he said, he’s had friends and family members struggle with health issues.
“A future in which climate change is increasingly disastrous, in which people who control our government aren’t putting their health and wellbeing forward, both with climate change and with other issues, like healthcare,” he said, “is a world in which they’re increasingly at risk. And I’m fighting against that. For their health, and for my own health.”
People participated in similar ceremonies in 24 other cities across the United States. The capsules gathered in Oakland will be buried at the Watershed Center in New York. They, and those preserved around the country, will be “opened simultaneously” in November 2067—50 years from now—according to the press release issued by Sunrise organizers.