Celeste Van Kirk/Observer-Reporter

Veteran Rudy Stolfer of Washington plays a drum on South Main Street Friday.

An international movement begun by a Swedish schoolgirl who seeks to combat climate change has inspired a local man to promote a movement known as “Fridays for Future.”

Every Friday since March 15, Rudy Stolfer has literally been beating a drum in Washington to draw attention to a planet preservation movement begun by Greta Thunberg, whom he called “the 15-year-old Swedish girl who’s changing the world.”

Thunberg, now 16, became famous for camping out at her country’s parliament building, boycotting classes as part of a school strike to draw attention to rising temperatures and sea levels. Her Twitter account has 669,100 followers.

A four-year Marine Corps veteran, Stolfer arrives each Friday morning at the veterans pavilion on South Main Street with his djembe, a goblet-shaped wooden drum with a goatskin drumhead that traces its origins to West Africa.

“This is my weapon of choice,” he said of the drum he said he purchased uptown. “We need to wake up. I mean, this town is owned by fossil fuel.”

Carved vertically on the drum are letters that spell “Walt Roots,” which Stolfer said represents the saying “we are living the results of our thoughts,” which he attributed to a Cherokee medicine woman.

“Me and Walt have been at it for a while,” he said, harking back to protests at the turn of the 21st century during which he provided a rhythmic backdrop in Washington, D.C.’s, Lafayette Park across from the White House.

He was wearing a stars-and-stripes bandana yesterday, pointing out that his flag apparel was upside-down as a distress signal because “the corporatocracy’s in charge.”

As a cancer survivor whose drinking water comes from a well, he said he’s concerned about pollution from “coal, oil, nukes and gas. I grew up here. I know we’re all asleep in this place.”

Stolfer played drums in grade school at Lone Pine and graduated from Trinity High School 52 years ago on the day of his interview, describing his age as, “I’m going to leave the 60s this year.”

Along the sidewalks of the nation’s capital, Stolfer said he met visitors from all over the world, concluding, “We’re not a lot different.”

Stolfer said he hopes to drum on South Main Street every Friday morning through Sept. 20.

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