Q&A with junior Isabella Fallahi on her involvement in today’s nationwide strike activist Greta Thunberg is attending



Isabella Fallahi, Zero Hour communications director and junior, speaks at another youth climate summit. This summit was also organized by Zero Hour and took place in Miami over the summer.

Rhea Acharya

Junior Isabella Fallahi is the director of communications for Zero Hour, a national youth-led climate justice organization. Zero Hour is hosting a nationwide strike protesting climate change today, and we talked to Fallahi about her role in the event that will be attended by activist Greta Thunberg and rapper Jaden Smith.

Click here to read our most recent cover story and see Fallahi’s view on the prevalence of the bystander effect and slactivism in today’s world.

Could you please explain what exactly your upcoming event is about?

I’m organizing actually two events coming up. I’m organizing the national strikes on (Sept. 20), and I’m also organizing the local strikes here in Indiana that are also happening on Sept. 20. And this is all to demand climate action from politicians. 

How did you get involved in the organizing process behind the national strike?

I am the director of communications for an international youth-led climate justice organization. “This is Zero Hour” is our slogan and is also all of our social media handles, but “Zero Hour” is what we abbreviate it to. As the director of communications, I did have the opportunity to lead the press team for the national strikes, so day in and day out I am doing editorial board pitching, op-ed pitching and press releases, making sure the press is coordinated. I’ve formed two subcommittees on that team. One (of those subcommittees is) for putting together a local press packet for all of the strikes. We have around 750 strikes that are going to be taking place across the United States, so what that packet is for is to help (the local strike organizers) do their own pitching, to help them do their own op-ed outreach and to help them also give a lot of spotlight on local grassroots organizing. Then, the second subcommittee we have is dedicated to giving Spanish-speaking press and Arabic-press and black-owned news organizations (information) to really ensure that we portray our message in all different lights specifically as the climate justice movement is an intersectional one where nobody can be left behind and to also acknowledge that climate change disproportionately affects people of color, low-income and indigenous youth as a whole and so predominately white-run media outlets or western media outlets cannot portray that as well as more diverse media outlets can. You might say that is an assumption, but I think it is a very well-educated assumption. 

What specifically are you doing this weekend?

Well, Thursday morning I fly to New York City. I’ll pretty much have most of the day on Thursday to just be able to visit colleges and that sort of stuff, but I have some meetings after the New York City school time ends. I have to do some logistics meetings for the next day. Friday, I have to go to the United Nations in the morning and my deputy director on Zero Hour’s communications team will be presenting a “Getting to the Roots” presentation at the United Nations. So, I’ll be there to support her and cheer her on. And then, I’m not even sure if I’ll be able to march in the physical strike because I have to be at the rally location at 3 p.m. for a (microphone check) because I’ll be speaking at the rally. Saturday, I’ll be all day at the United Nations Youth Summit and then Sunday is also just a free day.

How much participation do you expect to get in this strike?

I would say that about a month ago I spoke to Alexandria Villaseñor—she is a local youth climate organizer who founded Earth Uprising and has been striking for months now here in the United States every Friday outside of the United Nations in New York—and she told me that she expects about 100,000 people to be attending. And, that was a month ago. I’m sure it’s going to increase because Greta Thunberg is going to be in attendance. I’ll be speaking right before her, actually, so it’s a bit of pressure on my shoulders. And it was just announced that rapper Jaden Smith will be performing at the New York strike, so that’s really exciting to meet him.

Is there anything else you’d like readers to know about the marches that are going on?

Definitely show up to them. I would like to tell every single student at Carmel, all 5,000 students here, that I want to see every single one of them at that strike because it is just so important. We shouldn’t be arguing facts here; I mean our future is literally on the line. We have less than 11 years to decide our entire future and the fate of that. Leave it as it is, we are going to descend into chaos and doomsday. The growing number of hurricanes and typhoons, while that doesn’t seem like it’s going to affect us here in Indiana, it is going to affect people on the coast, it is going to affect people in our communities, it is going to affect people with families in different countries, but here in Indiana, we will see flooding, droughts and worsening of air quality. It is going to affect our daily lives. It’s extremely important. It is our very existence that we are talking about; it is our future. We need to be the ones who are going to take the power back from the political inaction, take the power back from the generations that have destroyed this planet, that have destroyed our future for us. We need to say that enough is enough, we are not going to just stand by any more while you plunder our planet for profits and we’re here to just put an end to that completely. Our demands are very simple; here at the Indiana strike we want an Indiana Green New Deal, which is basically the Green New Deal at a federal level but more locally based. Obviously, that is going to be more inclusive of our state’s coal miners and more inclusive of our state’s farmers. At the national level, our demands are again very simple. We want a Green New Deal. We want respect for indigenous things. We want sustainable agriculture. We want protection of biodiversity. You can find all of that at strikewithus.org. Everyone needs to show up (to the strike). It is an excused absence. Literally, all your parents need to do is call you in. It is from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Indiana Statehouse. There (are) going to be speakers. There (are) going to be chants. Right now, we are expecting about 500 people and I’m sure that number has gone up. I am really sad that I won’t be able to be here for the local strike.