More or less 40 000 climate demonstrators joined in Amsterdam on the 10th of March to protest the weak climate policy. They consisted mostly of that part of the population that is inexperienced with demonstrations, or for whom it has been a while since their last protest. But all of them worry about climate change in such a way that they are prepared to march through Amsterdam in harsh weather conditions, with lots of rain and lots of wind. The Dutch middle class was certainly present, but there were also, for example, many students who came in buses from Wageningen University amongst other places. And a very small group, among whom yours truly, who left Wageningen on a bike, seeking adventure on the way to Amsterdam.
After some twelve hours of enjoying the rich Dutch landscape, and the well-organized biking trails, we finally arrived at our end destination for Saturday night: the Lutkemeer farm. It’s the last remaining organic farm on the territory of Amsterdam. However, Amsterdam has sold the land, that Lutkemeer leased, to turn it into an industrial area. The expansion zone of Schiphol airport. It would become a business – the name of the company remains unknown – with a climate friendly, circular policy. But, as Lutkemeer farm states in their campaign: growing organic food on fertile land will always be more climate-friendly than to construct more buildings. This is also the message they brought to the climate march. It was a very interesting stay at the farm, and it also showed us that everyone comes to the climate march with his/her own fights and visions.
Sunday morning, we woke up with the sound of rain clattering on the roof of the attic we slept in. We left to the city early to buy some rain pants, and then we headed towards Dam, which was the meeting point of the demonstrators. First, there was an hour of speeches, in the pouring rain, and then the group left to march towards the Museum Square. There were no separate blocks of organizations in the march, instead we all walked together, which gave the marchers the space to get to know one another. When we got to the Museum Square, we were welcomed by a musical blast of energy and we all danced together in the mud. It was a great ending to the climate march and we could almost not feel our wet and cold feet anymore. After this, the small group of bikers left to bike back to Wageningen, which was now only about 6 hours away. The rain stopped, rainbows appeared, and we got to see a beautiful sunset. It was a gratifying trip.
But why bike all the way to Amsterdam to walk an hour with strangers in the rain, you ask? Well, first of all, to me it seems that even in a democracy like the Netherlands, protesting on the streets is one of the more powerful ways to demand structural change. Above that, all the climate marches that have been going on in the world have changed the subject of the political discussions that we have. Everyone has something to say about climate change now. And this forces the politicians to speak on it as well. And to act, hopefully. Besides all that, it’s also just a lot of fun to march, to participate in climate marches and to fight for our common future.