Climate march photo
(Stock photo)

Young climate activists have attracted national attention. But in the San Francisco Bay area, a group of older women sometimes joins them on the front lines.

They call themselves the Society of Fearless Grandmothers, and founder Pennie Opal Plant says their job is to make sure that young people stay safe.

“Older women have a special role in these nonviolent direct actions and marches,” she says. “We’re not afraid to put ourselves between law enforcement and all of the younger people behind us.”

For example, before the 2018 Global Climate Action Summit, the grandmas blocked streets while protesters painted a giant mural depicting a range of climate solutions.

“And it is very effective because law enforcement are always a little bit surprised at seeing grandmothers blockading streets,” she says. “And our police liaisons were all trained in how to talk to them in a good way – in an elder-respected, kind, loving way.”

Plant says the women feel passionate about addressing climate change and creating a safer world for their grandchildren.

“We have to do everything we can to protect future generations and the entire system of life,” she says.

Reporting credit: Stephanie Manuzak/ChavoBart Digital Media.

Diana Madson contributed regularly to Yale Climate Connections from 2014 to 2021. She enjoys exploring U.S.-based stories about unexpected and innovative solutions to climate change. In addition to her...