Published: 08th October 2019
Meet the group that is using Instagram to amp up climate strikes in Chennai
The Chennai Chapter of Fridays for Future is spearheading climate strikes and discussions on environment conservation using an Instagram handle
When the climate strike was called on September 22, not too many people expected 1500 citizens from the city to show up. The overwhelming numbers probably owe it to Instagram (besides good old Greta Thunberg, of course). One handle in particular.
Srinidhi Srinivasan, who co-manages the Instagram handle of the Chennai chapter of Fridays for Future (FFF Chennai), started the Instagram handle, @fridaysforfuture.chennai towards the end of August after she, like many others, was inspired by Greta Thunberg. In the beginning, Srinidhi would occasionally post relevant articles and videos. Within a few days, her friend joined in and the page became more active after the duo started receiving messages from strangers expressing their willingness to join the movement. Currently, more than 5 people, all working professionals, are associated with the Instagram account, which has more than 1,300 followers and counting.
“The fact that more than 1,500 people gathered at Besant Nagar beach on September 22 on short notice to take part in an awareness rally to protest against the climate crisis is proof that a significant change is coming,” says Srinidhi. “We had been expecting only 500 people, and were overwhelmed when people, both adults and children swarmed in by the thousands, carrying posters, placards and banners at 6.30 am in the morning! I think the fact that Chennaiyin FC shared the event details on their page was one of the reasons for this huge turnout. Social enterprises like Reap Benefit, Bengaluru, also joined hands with us and conducted fun activities and games to spread the word. Why does a climate protest have to be boring?” she quips, adding that Fridays For Future, Chennai, is not an organisation as such, but a community of like-minded people who want to do everything in their power to save Mother Earth.
Charging ahead: Srinidhi and her fellow FFF members are planning to organise full-fledged climate strikes in the future
“The primary motive behind coming up with it was creating awareness. I figured that if people became more aware of their local environmental problems, they would automatically choose to do something about them,” shares the content writer at Zoho, who states that the community is looking for more participation from schoolchildren and college students as they are the future of tomorrow. “In fact, one of our co-ordinators, Akshay Oliver, conducted a seminar on the climate crisis and its detrimental effects on the planet in RKM Vivekananda College in Mylapore recently. It was well-received by students and professors alike. We want to do more of these activities in the future,” says Srinidhi, informing us that FFF Chennai has partnered with many grassroots organisations like the Vettiver Collective, Citizen Consumer and Civic Action Group (CAG), Extinction Rebellion India, etc to create a roadmap for future activities.
So what kind of change is the community aiming at? “We are essentially looking at change at three levels – personal, community and government. At a personal level, there is a lot of things that we can do – from avoiding the use of plastic to using environment-friendly products. The smallest things make a big difference. But it will not effect any change if only one or two persons follow it – everybody should be willing to do it. That’s where we come to community-level changes – where an entire community decides to go green and sticks to their resolutions. For example, an apartment could decide to go zero-waste and reward their tenants for the same. And when communities like this get together and tell the government that ‘enough is enough,’ then a political change can be brought about in the long run,” avers Srinidhi.