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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

“There's something that inspires a lot of hope in me when there are people at the table who are elderly and people at the table who are 10 years old and we're all working together on this cause,” Marjorie Lewis said.

A family of activists: the Pasch-Lewis’ reflect on Madison Climate Strike

One week from the Madison climate strike, the Pasch-Lewis family gathered around the breakfast table at 6:30 a.m., like they do most mornings. Though, this Friday morning was a little different. The family was getting ready to embark on their weekend trip to Duluth, M.N. for an oil pipeline protest.

Marjorie Lewis, mother and Sierra Club volunteer, likes to keep the family busy.

The Pasch-Lewis’ got involved with the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal initiative more than a year ago but have been involved in environmental activism for longer. 

Qian Pasch, fifth grader and youngest in the family, is usually the first out the door in the morning to get to Emerson Elementary, followed by his dad, Jason Pasch, a teacher at La Follette High School. Keziah Pasch, a senior at East High, has first period free and more flexibility in her morning routine. Salome, the oldest, is currently studying nature conservancy and environmental activism in Land o' Lakes, WI. 

Amid their breakfast, the family sat down and spoke with The Daily Cardinal.

Q: What was each of your experiences like at the strike on Friday?

Marjorie: The nice thing about doing it as a family is that the kids have different activities they're involved in. At different times, different members of the family have been more involved than others just depending on our schedules. We can do more as a family than if just one of us was participating in this activism.

Jason: I'm a teacher so it was exciting for me to see a lot of high school students there. In fact, a lot of students that I know were there. It was exciting to see how many people actually showed up. I was a little nervous because I gave a speech at the rally, but I felt really good about participating. 

M: We had a table of kid's activities and information for families about things that they can do to get involved. One of the big things we're doing is putting pressure on Madison Gas and Electric, calling for them to stop burning fossil fuels more quickly. The other thing we're doing is holding a Family Action Fun Night, which will have carnival-like activities for the kids but will also include things families can do to reduce their own carbon footprint or put pressure on the local companies to reduce theirs. 

Q: For the kids, what was your favorite part of being at the strike?

Keziah: I think one of my favorite parts was just as we were walking through the crowd. When we were at MG&E, I was in the front and I couldn't tell how many people were there. When I saw how [far] we all stretched in the march, that was really cool. Also seeing all the highschoolers who were there like me.

Qian: There was a whole gigantic flock.

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Q: Have you ever been apart of a protest that big before?

J: The answer is yes but they were really young.

K: Was that a Vietnam protest?

M: Vietnam? How old do you think you are?

J: We did a protest as a family in Washington D.C. in the early 2000s for the Iraq War.

K: That's what I was getting at. But no climate strike I have ever been to has been this big.

Q: Did that affect how you want to be involved in the future?

K: Definitely. It's disheartening when not a lot of people show up because you feel like nobody cares and you wonder 'Why am I doing this in the first place?' So when a giant crowd does show up, you go, 'This is helping people and this is a cause people care about.'

Q: How do you feel about being the generation your parents and others are talking about to fix this crisis?

K: I feel pressure because I'm a senior in high school. Especially with this climate strike — how am I supposed to achieve all of these things when I have to worry about all these other outlying factors.

Q: For the kids, how do you feel about the meetings?

Q: Well sometimes it's kind of boring. I don't really understand a lot of things.

J: You're a man of action.

K: Meetings where we sit down and talk get tedious. I want to be doing something instead but I think, at the end, those meetings are worth it.

Q: Do you have tricks to get through the meetings?

Q: I like spinning around in the spin-y chair. 

K: I don't think I do, I think I just zone in and out.

M: It's so interesting to hear this! We've never been in a meeting where Qian has not asked a really good question or had a suggestion. Even though he's 10 years old he is an active participant in the meetings. 

Q: I listen — but I also spin around in spin-y chairs.

M: He's also a big fan of the snacks. But he's paying attention and participating at an age-appropriate level. There's something that inspires a lot of hope in me when there are people at the table who are elderly and people at the table who are 10 years old, and we're all working together on this cause. As the mom, I do a little bit of dragging people around and sometimes they're like, “Oh boy, I've got a lot of homework,” but I'm grateful they keep participating. I think it bonds us together as a family — and we do have a lot of fun doing it together.

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