© 2019 by Meddling Kids Movement 

Climate  Justice

"We want to have a planet that is livable." - Jamie Margolin

EDDY BINFORD-ROSS

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MKM team member Shayna Rutman spoke with Eddy Binford-Ross, a 16-year-old climate justice activist from Salem, OR. They chatted about civics education, Salem Climate Strike, and getting all hands on deck.

 

Shayna: When I was doing some research before reaching out to you, I was really impressed with all of your work! What got you involved in youth and student activism specifically?

 

Eddy: My interest in activism and politics started in 6th grade when I asked my mom to teach civics at my school in preparation for the 2016 election. Those classes instilled a love for current events, and a desire to get more involved in local government, the legislature, and Congress. From there, I became a vocal proponent of mandatory civics education in schools and had the opportunity to give a TEDx talk on the importance of civics education. I am currently working to pass legislation requiring Oregon high schoolers to take a civics class. All this work gave me the tools that I needed to become a well-rounded activist. I attend the Women’s Marches (including the first one in DC), I participate in March For Our Lives, I help run the social media for a library bond measure, and I am working with my mom to improve the standards of care for children in border facilities. I also volunteer for candidates I support and am working to address the climate crisis.

 

Shayna: I would like to talk to you more about your work with student activism regarding the Salem Climate Strike! What was a specific catalyst that drew you to this movement?

 

Eddy: I had grown up being aware of the effects of climate change, however, I felt like I didn’t have a way to make a difference. Then in the fall of 2018, I had a meeting with some youth climate activists from Eugene and the Oregon Senate President, about the Clean Energy Jobs Bill. That meeting was extremely disappointing, the Senator treated us with a lack of respect. Our elected officials didn’t seem to care very much, so it was time for the youth to take charge and fight the climate crisis. In March of 2019, I organized the first Salem Climate Strike. We only had 25-30 people show up, however, I was not discouraged. I knew that every movement needs a baseline, somewhere to start and to grow from. In May, we organized the second Salem Climate Strike and this time we had about 150 students attending. I spent weeks at the Capitol this past summer lobbying for the Clean Energy Jobs Bill. With this legislation, Oregon was poised to become a nationwide leader in addressing the climate crisis. Unfortunately, big corporations encouraged the Republican Senators to flee the state, which they did, killing the legislation. We organized again this September. We had 300 people show up, support of legislators from across the state, and letters from both our U.S. Senators. Our work will not stop here. We will keep speaking out until the climate crisis is addressed locally, statewide, nationally, and internationally. 

 

Shayna: What do you think our society and our lawmakers in particular need to do better at when it comes to climate justice?

 

Eddy: Society needs to move away from the mindset that someone else will fix the climate crisis because we have seen time and time again that they haven’t. People need to get out there and fight for their planet and future. They cannot continue to hope that others will solve the problem. Climate change is an all hands on deck kind of crisis, so that means we need every person, young and old, to get out there and get involved. Our lawmakers at the state and federal levels have spent far too long discussing and debating and failing to pass meaningful laws addressing the climate crisis. It is time for our elected officials to fight for their constituents or we need to vote them out.

 

Shayna: Why do you think it’s important to connect with other young people, even young people who previously were not activists when it comes to creating change?

 

Eddy: It is so crucial that youth become involved in combating the climate crisis and that they lead this movement. We are the generation that will feel the effects of climate change and so, we must all work to protect our future. Youth have been denied a place at the table for far too long. Our opinions and perspectives have been pushed to the side because we are too young to vote. We cannot continue to let this happen. We must participate in our democracy and fight for our planet. Climate change is the defining issue of our time and this movement will be one for the history books. 

 

Shayna: Are there any current activism projects you are working on that you would like to talk about, or plans for the future?

 

Eddy: In the early Spring, we will plan another climate strike in hopes that the turnout is even better than it was for the one in September. One of my projects for the Winter will be creating more connections between climate strike leaders in cities across Oregon. I’m hoping to be able to bring our movement in Oregon together because it’s very disjointed right now. It is crucial to have these statewide connections, especially when we are fighting for changes at the state and national levels. My other big project will be creating a team for Salem Climate Strike. I want to get some youth volunteers, from different schools across Salem, to handle things like social media, press outreach, and graphic design. This will help us get more people involved in the movement and spread our work to schools across the city.

 

Shayna: What advice would you give to other young people who want to speak out and change the world?

 

Eddy: Don’t be afraid to use your voice, it is your most powerful tool. Speak up and speak out about issues that you care about. It will seem daunting at first and it may take a lot of courage, however, it is better to face your fears and fight for the things you believe in than to let your perspective go unnoticed because you were too scared to speak.

@eddybinfordross

ZEENA ABDULKARIM

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I chatted with Zeena Abdulkarim, an 18-year-old climate justice activist currently based in Atlanta, GA. We talked about advocating for women of color, Zero Hour, and local government action. 

 

Isabel: Can you tell me about your work with Zero Hour and the youth-led climate movement in general? How did you get involved?

 

Zeena: I sent in my application to work for Zero Hour and was put in the advocacy team where I started doing research for our Getting to the Roots of Climate Change presentation. After that, we started planning for the Youth Climate Summit and I was just doing a lot of content creation. Being an advocate for women of color is my calling and the climate crisis impacts women of color the most heavily so I feel like I am doing the work I need to be doing.

 

Isabel: That is a great segway! How do you feel that racial justice and climate justice are intersectional?

 

Zeena: Communities of color have very little societal support so as the climate crisis hits, we will not be able to survive. There just isn’t support and we need to fix that especially for frontline communities. 

 

Isabel: What is a step you would like to see taken in your community to help fight climate change?

 

Zeena: I would like to see more youth of color speaking out against the climate crisis. The climate crisis is predominantly white-washed and that doesn’t make sense. White people are not going to face the same level of tragedy that people of color will face. I would also like to see our local government taking action to become more green. We need environmental consciousness nationally. 

 

Isabel: Are there any current activism projects or any plans for the future you would like to talk about?

 

Zeena: I am working toward local government action against the climate crisis.

 

Isabel: Cool! What is your advice to other young people who want to speak out and change the world?

 

Zeena: Find an organization to get involved in and get involved with it.

@zeeeeena

XIYE BASTIDA

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I had a discussion with Xiye Bastida, a 17-year-old climate justice activist currently based in New York City, NY. We talked about immigration, changing the system, and school strikes.

 

Isabel: I know you have been super involved in striking for climate action. What do school climate strikes mean to you as a student?

 

Xiye: For me, striking means disrupting the everyday. As students we are preparing to contribute in society, but the society we are going toward is not one where we can do anything. When we strike, we are saying “why are you preparing us for an unstable future?” 

 

Isabel: How does being a Latinix youth climate activist affect your perspective on other political issues?

 

Xiye: I am originally from Mexico and I don’t have U.S. Citizenship. I come here on a Visa and so it is really important to me how immigrants are being treated. It is heartbreaking for me to see the United States rejecting refugees fleeing from the climate crisis as if they have no value. We are supposed to help each other. I know it is more complicated than I am making it seem, but it should be simple. If someone is in need, help them. 

 

Isabel: What steps would you like to see U.S elected officials or even our next President take to fight climate change?

 

Xiye: We have demands and one of those demands is a Just Transition to 100% renewable energy. Keep fossil fuels in the ground, hold polluters accountable, and respect indigenous lands. It’s about a change in the system from thinking that we are in this for profit to thinking that we are here for a healthy life and healthy planet. 

 

Isabel: What has been your most memorable experience fighting for justice with other young people?

 

Xiye: September 20th was the most memorable experience along with March 15th where we had over 5,000 students in New York for the Global Climate Strike. A few weeks ago, we had Greta Thunberg strike with us and 1,000 students came out. There have been so many memorable moments, but we are still looking forward. This is going to be what’s going to turn the tide.

 

Isabel: Are there any other activism projects or plans for the future you would like to speak about?

 

Xiye: We are going to be striking every Friday and also showing up on school campuses every Saturday to register people to vote. We know that striking raises awareness, but we actually want to get people engaged. 

 

Isabel: What advice would you give to other young people who want to speak out and change the world?

 

Xiye: We all have the power to make our voices heard. Do not be complacent to injustices of society. 

@xiyebeara

SOFIA ANKER 

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MKM’s Field Director, Stephen Baker, spoke to Sofia Anker, a 15-year-old climate justice activist from Pasadena, CA. They talked about NPR, Meatless Mondays, and not waiting until 2050.

 

Stephen: I would like to talk to you more about your work with student activism regarding the climate crisis in the United States. What got you so involved? Can you identify a specific catalyst?

 

Sofia: I would say it was one day when I was listening to NPR and they were talking about the fact that we had 11 years left before we couldn’t do anything and thoughts flew through my head. I kind of freaked out. I wanted to be something in life and if our earth is uninhabitable, I won’t be able to do that. That’s what propelled me into climate activism.

 

Stephen: What has it been like organizing events to raise awareness for climate action in America? How have you been able to kickstart the conversation?

 

Sofia: It’s been an amazing but stressful experience. So many people have different views on what they think we need for the environment. The truth is that we’re all in this together. We all have one goal and that’s what people see when they come to protests. Everybody is angry about the same subject. Whenever I bring up my work to someone they always want to talk about my personal solutions. I will first tell them to try to cut out beef and other meats. At my environmental club, I encouraged my friends to try Meatless Mondays. It’s been fun to have people come up to me excited about a day they went vegetarian or they used all reusable containers. It reassures me that there’s some hope. 

 

Stephen: What do you think our society and our lawmakers in particular need to do better at when it comes to the climate crisis in America?

 

Sofia: I think lawmakers need to understand that most people in America are behind taking action. They need to get that if they come up with a plan and execute it, the praise from people who know it was long awaited will far outweigh the backlash from climate change deniers. Lawmakers also need to understand that they can do small things too. They don’t need to tackle the bigger picture all at once. I would like them to know is that the threat to our environment is serious and it can not wait until 2050 because the economy won’t support that solution. 

 

Stephen: Why do you think it’s important to connect with other young people, even young people who previously were not activists when it comes to creating change?

 

Sofia:  It is extremely important to connect with young people because we are the ones who will be most affected. We are the next generation and to be informed, angry, and passionate is all we can be, but it’s what we need to be right now to ensure we have a future.

 

Stephen: Are there any current activism projects you are working on that you would like to talk about, or plans for the future?

 

Sofia: We are hoping that the excitement and energy hasn’t died down since the amazing turnout at the September 20th Global Climate Strike. On a more local scale, I’m organizing a clothing swap at my school so students don’t have to buy into fast fashion. 

 

Stephen: What advice would you give to other young people who want to speak out and change the world?


Sofia: Get out there. Volunteer at events, go to protests, meet people, talk to them. People are always looking for someone to speak at an event or help them set things up or start chants or do crowd control. It’s just a fact, people need people. Find out who’s in charge and talk to them about what you can give them and what they need.

@sofianker

JUWARIA JAMA

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I chatted with Juwaria Jama, a 15-year-old climate justice activist from Minneapolis, MN. We talked about low-income areas, pollution, and uplifting marginalized communities.

 

Isabel: Why is it so important for young women of color to take the lead on the climate movement?

 

Juwaria: The climate crisis mainly affects people of color and low-income communities. It is extremely important for those in the frontlines to be leading movements like these.

 

Isabel: Totally. What drew you to climate work and why do you believe it should be everyone’s top priority?

 

Juwaria: I am from North Minneapolis, a predominantly low-income and people of color area, and we have been on the frontlines of the climate crisis. Living so close to downtown and connected to highways, we have horrible pollution and many people that look like me are most affected. When I was finally able to process this and realize that my own people were suffering, I got further involved in environmental justice and am now more focused on climate justice solutions. 

 

Isabel: What have you learned about intersectionality through your work with climate and youth activism?

 

Juwaria: Every single issue that you can think of is intersectional. The climate movement encompasses so many other movements and works to uplift the voices of marginalized communities, as they are the frontlines. I have learned a lot about the power of youth and that the world we are fighting for is much more than it is now. 

 

Isabel: Are there any activism projects you would like to talk about?

 

Juwaria: On September 20th, across the globe, young people struck to demand our leaders to move us into a greener, more sustainable future while supporting front hand communities that are already affected from this crisis. Every single state and country had a strike to take part in. 

 

Isabel: What advice would you give to other young people who want to speak out and change the world?

 

Juwaria: The world is yours. It is important to remember that so many other people do not have the privilege to speak up, go to protests, and take part in other activism. If you have the privilege to, don’t take it for granted. Use your voice to fight for others. 

@juhwaria

RITVIK JANAMSETTY

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I talked with Ritvik Janamsetty, a 16-year-old climate justice activist currently based in Las Vegas, NV. We discussed Earth Uprising, living in India, and President Trump. 

 

Isabel: Can you talk about your job as Earth Uprising’s Press Coordinator? What is Earth Uprising all about and how did you get involved?

 

Ritvik: Earth Uprising is an organization that is all about climate education and taking direct action. Over the summer, we did Climate Strike Summer which was where we had strikes for 8 weeks that were themed by problems that led us to the climate crisis. We also worked on the September 20th strikes. My job as Press Coordinator is to keep in contact with reporters and make sure that we get publicity. I was on the media committee for the September 20th strikes and was the leader of the local press sub-committee where we pinpointed the big strike locations to try and help local strikes deal with press.

 

Isabel: That’s amazing. Why is climate justice important to you as a young person?

 

Ritvik: I am originally from India and I used to live right near a slum in the industrial area of my town. In big cities in India, there is so much pollution that sometimes you can’t even breathe. For people like me with asthma, I just couldn’t go outside or it was a hassle. Other people don’t have the privilege of staying inside an air conditioned home like I did or like I do now. Many people in India are stuck in a system of oppression that forces them into places where the climate crisis is extremely apparent and they have no escape. If they stop working, their families won’t eat. That makes me really want to fight for climate justice.

 

Isabel: How does being a young person of color currently living in America affect the way you look at climate change and other political issues?

 

Ritivik: Whenever I think of any political issue, I try to put it in the context of how it is in India. I try to see the differences so I can see what the best course of action is. Being a person of color in the US subjects you to many sources of racism. We have to stick together and try to power on.

 

Isabel: What steps would you like to see politicians or even the presidential candidates take to address climate change?

 

Ritvik: I would really like to see President Trump take action on climate. Take the climate and our earth more seriously. If you don’t take care of the earth, not only will everyone die, but you won’t make any more money as well. I am all for strong climate legislation like the Green New Deal, but for that to pass, Democratic candidates need to find some bi-partisian consensus even partially. I would love to see some of them reaching across the aisle to engage on climate in different ways. 

 

Isabel: Are there any current activism projects that you would like to talk about or plans for the future?

 

Ritvik: Earth Uprising is planning on doing campaigns with climate education to get more young people to understand the facts. That is our goal.

 

Isabel: What advice would you give to other young people who want to speak out and change the world?

 

Ritvik: I used to be very skeptical of activism because a lot of people where I live made fun of it and that convinced me not to try. It was not until recently that I said enough is enough. Don’t let anyone bring you down. Only you know what is right. Don’t stop because what other people think about you. Do what you need to do to save the world.

@youngscholarrj

SARAH GOODY

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MKM Communications Director, Lilly Minor, talked with Sarah Goody, a 14-year-old climate justice activist from Marin County, CA. They discussed personally connecting to the climate crisis, remembering why it is important, and Climate NOW.

 

Lilly: What got you involved in climate activism?

 

Sarah: I was first introduced to the climate crisis in 6th grade. We spent a month dedicated to exploring the causes and effects of climate change. This was an eye-opening experience for me. I had never felt so personally connected to a social justice issue. Most problems I had witnessed before such as gun violence, immigration rights, racism, etc. did not seem to apply to me on a personal level. The climate crisis was very different. I discovered that I played a key role in the increase of CO2 in our atmosphere. What inspired me to start taking action was the fact that global warming will ultimately result in the extinction of the human species if not acted on immediately.

 

Lilly: How do you stay passionate about this issue when things seem extra difficult?

 

Sarah: I remember why I am doing this work. I am a climate activist because I want to see a better future for our planet. I want my children to grow up and see things like the beach for it’s true beauty. Remembering why I am dedicating myself to climate activism helps replenish and motivate me to keep going. 

 

Lilly: What has been your most memorable experience as an advocate for climate action?

 

Sarah: The most memorable moment I have had so far as an activist was speaking at a ClimateOne-PBS event in San Francisco. It was unreal to be on the same stage as the people who I view as role models like Julia Olsen, the Lawyer behind “Youth vs. Gov.” What made this experience something I will never forget was I got a nose bleed during my entrance and the program had to stop for 10 minutes!

 

Lilly: Are there any activism projects you are working on or plans for the future you would like to talk about?

 

Sarah: I am working on expanding a group I recently founded called Climate NOW. Climate NOW is an organization which hosts monthly meetings for youth in the San Francisco Bay Area to learn about the climate crisis and how to take effective actions to reduce rising carbon emissions. 

 

Lilly: What advice would you give to other young people who want to speak out and change the world?

 

Sarah: Educate yourself! Education is the most powerful tool as an activist and will help you make the most of your time.

@sarah.goody4

OLIVIA WOHLGEMUTH

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I talked with Olivia Wohlgemuth, a 16-year-old climate justice activist from Brooklyn, NY. We chatted about using your privilege, the flawed education system, and not waiting to solve climate change. 

 

Isabel: What got you involved in climate activism and what other work have you done in the activism space?

 

Olivia: I learned about climate activism through the global strike on March 15th, 2019. I decided to organize my own high school to walk out and join the rally. I have gone to protests for gun violence prevention as well as fighting to desegregate our school systems in New York City. When I see events going on for things that I am passionate about, I will participate, but my main organizing work is climate. 

 

Isabel: Cool! What is something that your community could do to better support the youth-led climate movement?

 

Olivia: I live in a wealthy upper-class neighborhood with a lot of resources. That means we have a responsibility to use our privilege to speak out against injustice. We are pretty aware of what’s going on so we need to act on that and do something about it. I don’t see that in my community as much as I would like to. We must try to end injustice where we see it because we have the access to do so.

 

Isabel: Why do you believe that students striking from school has been so powerful when it comes to creating change?

 

Olivia: When you are under 18, school is your role in society. It’s your civic duty. We are too young to have a full-time job or vote so we go to school and get educated. That’s what we do. It’s what we are supposed to do. By rejecting that role, we are pointing out that the system is flawed. We don’t believe in the validity of the education we are studying because we are studying for a future we’re not going to have if we don’t solve the climate crisis.

 

Isabel: Tell me about this past Global Climate Strike. What were you hoping to achieve through it?

 

Olivia: The strike was really special because the U.N. Climate Summit, where world leaders come together and discuss climate solutions, was 3 days later. We came together in New York and around the world to say that we want to see serious solutions laid out on the table. This is not the time for doing the bare minimum. We need serious action in order to meet the deadline of 2030 from the 2018 IPCC report and world leaders need to work to make that happen. If we wait, climate change will reach a point of no return. 

 

Isabel: Are there any current activism projects or plans for the future you would like to talk about?

 

Olivia: I just want to point out that the strike on September 20th was not a destination. It was a catalyst for achieving total climate justice. There’s going to be a lot more where that came from.

 

Isabel: What advice do you have for other young people who want to speak out and change the world?

 

Olivia: Your voice is your most important tool. It is your responsibility and your privilege to be able to use your voice. Action is the antidote to sorrow and hopelessness. It’s hard to stay hopeful in 2019. It would be easy to submit to hopelessness, but we still have action and we still have our voices. The solution is to take action. History has shown that when a bunch of people come together and say “we won’t stand for this,” it works. 

@olivepit_

CIARA LONERGAN

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I spoke to Ciara Lonergan, a 16-year-old climate justice activist from Boston, MA. We talked about Earth Uprising, the urgency of saving this planet, and a global strike.

 

Isabel: Tell me a little about your work with Earth Uprising. How did you get involved with that organization?

 

Ciara: I run internal communications for Earth Uprising which basically means I help keep everything between our city coordinators running smoothly. I first met the Earth Uprising founder, Alexandria, when I interviewed her for an English project about climate change. I started following the Earth Uprising social media accounts and found out they were looking for city coordinators so I applied to do that in Boston. I am also the Boston City Coordinator, by the way.

 

Isabel: Cool! What have you learned about youth-led movement through fighting climate change with other students?

 

Ciara: I’ve seen that there are a lot of aspects to this fight that people don’t realize. Through Earth Uprising, I have met so many amazing people that I never would’ve connected with and I have seen that young people are such strong individuals. I think older generations need to see that as well because we are not stopping.

 

Isabel: Speaking of older generations, why do you believe lawmakers should prioritize this planet and the young people fighting for it?

 

Ciara: Politicians need to care about the climate crisis because without our planet, we have nothing. If we don’t have a planet, none of the other things they are talking about matter. 

 

Isabel: What would you like to see on a local or national level regarding youth issues?

 

Ciara: I would love to see politicians realize that the youth have a voice and we are not backing down.

 

Isabel: Are there any current activism projects or plans for the future that you want to talk about?

 

Ciara: Currently we are planning for the global strike on September 20th. If you want more details about that, they can be found on Earth Uprising’s social media.

 

Isabel: Great! What advice would you give to other young people who want to speak out and change the world?

 

Ciara: Just get involved and start doing something. You really just have to go for it.

@ciaraglonergan

MIKAELA HUTCHINSON

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I spoke with Mikaela Hutchinson, a 16-year-old climate justice activist from Hunterdon, NJ. We talked about misconceptions, giving kids a voice, and diving in. 

 

Isabel: As a young person, why is the climate crisis important to you?

 

Mikaela: I used to live on a very small island and with the rising sea levels, it could be underwater. That terrifies me. It breaks my heart and I have to fight for my home. As young people, we are going to be the most hurt by the climate crisis. The people that truly caused the crisis are going to die soon and we have to live with their mistakes. That is why we have to do something now.

 

Isabel: To that point, what is something you wish adults or politicians could understand about the youth-led climate movement?

 

Mikaela: We are not little kids who are twiddling our thumbs and can’t do anything. We created a Youth Climate Summit for young people to discuss systems of oppression that contribute to climate change. We are not stupid and we shouldn’t be treated like that. 

 

Isabel: If you could sum up the  Zero Hour Youth Climate Summit with one message or one call to action what would that be?

 

Mikaela: Youth need to take action. You can do this. Zero Hour is trying to give kids a voice and show that we will not let climate change go unnoticed.

 

Isabel: Totally. Are there any current activism projects or plans for the future you would like to talk about?

 

Mikaela: I joined Zero Hour recently, so I am still learning how to be an organizer right now, but hopefully I will start a sister chapter in my area.

 

Isabel: Cool! What advice would you give to other young people who want to speak out and change the world?

 

Mikaela: I came into this organization with little to no information about organizing or activism. I just learned how to do it because I cared about the climate crisis and environmental racism. I was totally out of my comfort zone, but you have to be uncomfortable sometimes and  just dive in. 

@miki_hutchinson

ANAIAH THOMAS

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I spoke to Anaiah Thomas, a 17-year-old climate justice activist from Bergen County, NJ. We chatted about science, Miami, and being on a finance team.

 

Isabel: As a young person, why is the climate crisis a top priority issue for you?

 

Anaiah: I feel like the climate crisis is a top priority issue for everyone. It has been looming over our futures forever and it’s time that we address it. Climate change ties together every big issue that you hear about in the news. Also, climate activism connects with me because I’m a “science girl” and I love to try and call people to action. Science gives us a way to do something about this. Maybe we don’t have to entirely change our method of energy if we can find a way to sequester carbon? We can use it for artificial photosynthesis, real photosynthesis, and just improving on what we already have. There is so much that can be done.

 

Isabel: What is something that you wish adults or politicians could better understand about the youth-led climate movement?

 

Anaiah: Whenever I hear certain adults talk about climate change, they always talk about the economics of it or how it will affect different companies. They never talk about the people that will be impacted. Kids can’t vote. We don’t have much say in what happens with politics, so we see an entire culture. We see the people. I don’t think the government is thinking about how we are going to lose people and communities. We are going to lose Miami. That’s not just your beach house, honey.  That is an entire group of people. 

 

Isabel: I want to talk about the Youth Climate Summit a little bit. You were on the Finance team for it. Can you sum up what the summit was all about and what your role was with it?

 

Anaiah: The summit was our idea of a next step after a march. It was a step forward to create more educated climate activists. We chose Miami because that is a place where you need young activists to be on the frontlines of the issues. My personal role in this was just to help the finance team get the amount of money we needed to host an accessible summit. We want kids to be taken seriously and in the finance team, that can be a struggle. When you ask for funding, sometimes people request documents that you can only get when you are 18. You have to explain that you are a teen activist trying to hold a climate summit and not everyone gets that.

 

Isabel: Are there any current activism projects you are working on or plans for the future?

 

Anaiah: In my community, there isn’t a lot of big action because it is such a small town. However, there are a lot of little groups that really care about the climate issue. Not big scale movements, but people who really get the idea behind all of this. I want to support the idea that saving the world starts on a local level. 

 

Isabel: That is great. What advice would you give to other young people who want to speak out and change the world?

 

Anaiah: When I first joined Zero Hour, I had no idea it was going to be so big. Maybe I just wasn’t super optimistic, but I had no idea we were capable of this. The contract for the Youth Climate Summit was written in our names. I think what makes us so special is that none of us have formal training yet all the work gets done. Nobody taught us all this stuff. You can accomplish amazing things at any age with no corporate training needed. 

@anaiah_bre

IZZY WARREN

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I chatted with Izzy Warren, a 15-year-old climate justice activist from London, UK. We talked about the economy, animal rights, and making the world a better place to live.

 

Isabel: What got you involved in the fight against climate change and why do you believe it’s important?

 

Izzy: I’ve wanted to work in wildlife conservation since I was 8 or 9 years old. It took me a little while but I think it eventually just clicked that the greatest threat to the animals I wanted to protect was climate change. Once I realised that it wasn’t long before I got heavily involved in the climate justice movement. Climate activism has extended so far beyond animals for me now though. It’s looking at things like immigration, the economy, politics, racism, women’s rights, youth rights and workers rights and seeing how we can combat the divisiveness in society today. Climate change isn’t a single issue. It encompasses every aspect of our life from food to housing and that’s why it’s so important. It’s a matter of life and death, not just in the future but also now. It’s so easy for people to forget the communities that are already suffering from climate change, we don’t really have 11 years left, we need solutions now.

 

Isabel: Talk a little about your work with the youth climate strikes. What do you hope comes out of that movement?

 

Izzy: I’m currently the volunteer coordinator and social media co-coordinator for the UK Student Climate Network which is the group that organized the school strikes in the UK. I’m obviously hoping that we see action on climate change, but I also hope that as a movement we are changing the perception of young people and the role that they have in protest and politics. If at the end of this we’ve reached a point where a teenager can speak out without people saying they’ve been radicalized or brainwashed by adults, then I’d consider that a win. 

 

Isabel: I saw that you are also an animal rights advocate. This seems like a basic question, but in your opinion, how are animal rights and climate justice intersectional?

 

Izzy: Animal rights are what got me into environmental activism in the first place. I think it goes back to that basic concept of valuing life which is at the core of what we are doing. Whether it’s the lives of people or animals, climate change is destructive and dangerous. I also think that for me, I wouldn’t be able to call myself an animal rights activist if I stayed silent about climate change. Climate change is going to cause mass extinction, and if you want to protect those species then you need to get to the root of the cause.

 

Isabel: What do you believe that your lawmakers could do to better support climate justice and action?

 

Izzy: I think there is a lot that needs to happen. In the UK, we were the first country where the government declared a climate emergency, but that hasn’t changed anything. Their approach is very much words instead of action. So, there is a lot we want to see change. There are the straightforward things that need to happen; banning fracking and investment into renewable energy, but we are also fighting for a green new deal to restructure our economy, we are campaigning for a lower voting age, we want curriculum reforms in schools. We are trying not just to stop or delay climate change, we want to remove the things that caused it in the first place and make the world not just inhabitable, but a better place to live.

 

Isabel: Are there any current activism projects you are working on or plans for the future that you would like to talk about?

 

Izzy: Right now I’m channeling most of my energy into mobilizing for the general strike on the 20th of September. I’m also the UK ambassador for Earth Uprising where I’m working on some very cool (secret) stuff! In my “downtime,” I run workshops for little kids to teach them about ocean plastic.

 

Isabel: What advice would you give to other young people who want to speak out and change the world?

 

Izzy: Don’t let anyone stop you. It’s absolutely not going to be easy. There will be a lot of condescending adults, plenty of late nights, way too many hours on the phone and your social life might take a few hits. But it will absolutely be worth it. Not just because of the cause you’re fighting for, but because of the community you’re going to discover and the empowerment you’ll feel. However make sure you fight for yourself too. Take breaks, get enough sleep, don’t forget to eat. Your well-being matters as well.

@crazyoragutanlady

ISABELLA JOHNSON

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Caroline Skwara, our Midwestern Regional Director, interviewed Isabella Johnson, a 16-year-old climate justice activist from Naperville, IL. They talked about the effects of climate change, being the Illinois Youth Climate Strike state lead, and education.

 

Caroline: Why is the climate justice movement meaningful to you as a young person?

 

Isabella: The climate justice movement is meaningful to me as a young person because climate change will take away so many innocent lives. For me, this is not a political issue, a partisan matter, or even a debate, this is life or death. I believe that every person, no matter their race, religion, sexuality, gender, or class deserves to live a dignified life. The effects climate change is going to cause (and is already causing) are violating that right to live. It is also important to me because my generation, my friends, are at the forefront of this fight. We are the ones lobbying, protesting, striking, and begging for our representatives to take action to save our world. We are fighting because the adults, the people who should be protecting our futures, are not. This movement is meaningful to me because it has to be. I cannot choose to do nothing when I see my home being destroyed right in front of my eyes. The earth is my home, and it needs all the help it can get. 

 

Caroline: So I read that you're the state lead for the Illinois Climate Strike. What has that experience been like and what inspired you to get involved?

 

Isabella: Being the state lead for Illinois has been an amazing experience. From organizing meetings to organizing strikes, I have learned so much about leadership, communication, and problem-solving. I have met the most amazing people and have the best team I could ever ask for. I really do enjoy it, but it comes with some struggles too. It is a big time commitment,. The time I am not spending on my schoolwork, I am spending on my activism. I have put hours and hours of work into this, and it has payed off. It will always be worth it. Right now, I have a Chicago chapter and a Springfield chapter. We are working on expanding our team to as many chapters as possible to ensure that all students in Illinois can have an opportunity to stand up for their futures. I was inspired to get involved with this movement once I learned about climate change. Once I saw the phrase "11 years left" until the worst effects of climate change are unavoidable, I felt a range of emotions, from anger to sadness to confusion to determination. I was determined to help save our earth, so I was overjoyed when one of my fellow Chicago activists reached out to me and asked if I wanted to help plan the first Chicago strike.

 

Caroline: What do you think lawmakers are getting wrong or could do better when it comes to climate change?

 

Isabella: Lawmakers are not taking climate change seriously. They are putting money above the life of our planet. They are not taking bold enough actions to make a difference. It is hard to describe what they are doing wrong when the majority of them are not doing anything in regards to climate change. The most disturbing action they take however, is choosing to dismiss our voices. They ignore us, the very people who are going to be affected the most by climate change. We are fighting for our lives, and they claim we do not know what we are talking about. I assure you, my fellow climate activists are the most educated people I know. We whip facts out of our heads to counter the lies they tell us, we read legislation, we read science reports, we look at graphs, we know what we are talking about. 

 

Caroline: More generally, what do you believe could be improved with the climate activism movement going forward?

 

Isabella: I think the climate activism movement could be improved more going forward by focusing more on education. So many kids and adults are ignorant of what climate change is, and the extent of it. If we could educate more people on it, I believe we can create more change. 

 

Caroline: Are there any activism projects you are working on/plans for the future you would like to talk about?

 

Isabella: With IL Youth Climate Strike, I am organizing tree-plantings, beach clean-ups, and lobbying days this summer. Our next big event is our next strike on September 20th. It will definitely be a lot of work, but I am excited. My team and I are going to try our best to make this our biggest strike so far! 

 

Caroline: What advice would you give to other young people who want to speak out and change the world?

 

Isabella: My advice to other young people who want to speak up is to go ahead and do it. Do not let adults intimidate you or put you down. You have power, so use it. If you start talking, people will start listening. When I first started my activism work last year, I knew barely anything. I never would have imagined I would be here today, leading a state-wide organization successfully. So, take the risk. Speak up. Activism changed my life, and maybe it will change yours too. If you do not know how to get involved, join an organization like US Youth Climate Strike. Our generation has to stick together, so join us and join our fight to save our world.

@isabellasjohnson

YOUTH CLIMATE SUMMIT

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Meddling Kids Movement was so excited to represent our organization at Zero Hour’s Youth Climate Summit in Miami, Florida last weekend. While we were there, we asked the participants some questions to post on this page. Enjoy! 

 

  1. What is your name?

  2. How old are you?

  3. Where are you from?

  4. Why do you meddle in climate change?

  5. Who is your youth climate hero? (optional)

 

Answers:

My name is Carolina, I am 9-years-old, and I’m from Miami, FL. I meddle in climate change because I care about my future and my youth climate hero is my sister Ava.

 

My name is Hannah Heath, I am 16-years-old and I’m from Weston, FL. I meddle in climate change because I care about our coral reefs and my youth climate hero is Nicole Buekley 

 

My name is Daphne Frias, I am 21-years-old, and I’m from New York, NY. I meddle in climate change because everyone calls our generation the future, but we do not have a secure future when the earth is deteriorating. 

 

My name is Mirabel Pham, I am 19-years-old, and I’m from Greenacres, FL. I meddle in climate change because it impacts everyone and everything whether people are aware of it or not. My youth climate hero is all of the indigenous people around the world.

 

My name is Julia Cook, I am 15-years-old, and I’m from Melbourne, FL. I meddle in climate change because it’s the most dire issue facing our existence and my youth climate hero is Greta Thunberg.

 

My name is Adam Roberti, I am 23-years-old, and I’m from Hollywood, FL. I meddle in climate change because the future of life on earth is at stake and my youth climate hero is Sylvia Carle. 

 

My name is Tayler Ford, I am 17-years-old, and I’m from Cooper City, FL. I meddle in climate change because it’s an issue that desperately needs attention and legislative action. My youth climate hero is Greta Thunberg.

 

My name is Emily, I am 20-years-old, and I’m from New York, NY. I meddle in climate change because we have no time to waste and my youth climate hero is Greta Thunberg.

 

My name is Brittany Croft, I am 32-years-old, and I’m from Dlt Van Alshyne, TX. I meddle in climate change to make a difference and my youth climate hero is my daughter Addison.

 

My name is Maya, I am 14-years-old, and I’m from Miami, FL. I meddle in climate change because I want to help the environment and the future for the better. My youth climate hero is Ms. Caroline Lewis, one of the leaders of the GenCLEO movement. 

 

My name is Madelyn Walker, I am 16-years-old, and I’m from Gainesville, FL. I meddle in climate change because my life depends on it and my youth climate hero is my cousin Isaac who is suing the federal government for climate action.

 

My name is Isaac Augspurg, I am 14-years-old, and I’m from Gainesville, FL. I meddle in climate change because it is the biggest threat to my generation. My youth climate heroes are Greta Thunberg, Jamie Margolin, and all kids fighting climate change.

 

My name is Nicole Buckley, I am 17-years-old, and I’m from Weston, FL. I meddle in climate change because the Everglades are burning and no one is doing anything about it. My youth climate hero is Valholly Frank. 

 

My name is Rachel Grossman, I am 17-years-old, and I’m from Weston, FL. I meddle in climate change because if we don’t do something now, we will regret it later. My youth climate hero is myself.

 

My name is Gabriela Rodriguez, I am 20-years-old, and I’m from Miami, FL. I meddle in climate change because climate awareness is important. My youth climate hero is Greta Thunberg.

 

My name is Avery, I am 12-years-old, and I’m from Gainesville, FL. I meddle in climate change for my future and my youth climate hero is my brother, Isaac Augspurg. 

 

My name is Tegan Ford, I am 19-years-old, and I’m from Cooper City, FL. I meddle in climate change because there will be nothing left to meddle in if the world is on fire.

@thisiszerohour

ISAAC HARTE

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I chatted with Isaac Harte, a 12-year-old climate justice activist from Coatesville, PA. We talked about climate change as more than a political issue, Donald Trump, and a Philly Hiking Club. 

 

Note: This interview was done before this information was officially announced, but Isaac is the Philadelphia Head Coalition Organizer with the climate action organization, Earth Uprising. This position launched in June and he is very excited about it.

 

Isabel: What has been your most memorable experience as a youth climate activist?

 

Isaac: One of my most memorable moments as a climate activist was when I was at a protest and someone told me they went to a museum, they were discussing earth science and someone asked if they could discuss climate change. The reply was that they can’t discuss political issues even though climate change is not just a political issue. This is not a positive memory, but climate change is not positive.

 

Isabel: Yep. Why do you believe other young people should be fighting for climate and the earth?

 

Isaac: People as old as Donald Trump won’t experience the same effects of climate change that kids my age will. We need to fight for our future.

 

Isabel: Totally. What are your goals for youth activism within your community?

 

Isaac: My goal for myself is to create a society that is aware of the impacts that the climate crisis has on them and the people around them. If we progress in the fight against the climate crisis, I may start a Hiking Club in Philly for 2020. I think that a Hiking Club would teach people about how valuable the environment is and why they need to save it. 

 

Isabel: What advice would you give to other young people who want to speak out and change the world?

 

Isaac: Youth who address the climate crisis are amazing, strong, and courageous!

@isavetheearth

MARLOW BAINES

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I talked to Marlow Baines, a 17-year-old climate justice activist from Boulder, CO. We talked about Earth Guardians, a renewable energy pledge for Boulder, and natural gas fracking. 

 

Isabel: What was your initial introduction to climate activism?

 

Marlow: My mom started an anti-fracking campaign when I was in 4th grade and we started going to town halls, so I became much more aware of what was going on in the world. In my freshman year of high school, I went to Standing Rock and it blew my mind how much power that people in power really hold. Once I came back, I knew I needed to get involved and I joined Earth Guardians.

 

Isabel: Perfect segway. So, you are the Global Crew Director for Earth Guardians. What is that organization all about and how has it affected your life?

 

Marlow: Earth Guardians really works on training future environmental leaders of today through social justice intersections. We want to give children the resources to get involved and be the most effective leaders that they can be. Our crews are focused on working in their own cities to solve local issues. The organization has changed my life. I went to a summer training and we worked day and night on really tough issues like environmental racism and learned how to be impactful in our communities. I realized that I was waking up excited to learn everyday and when I got back home, I tried to go back to high school and realized I couldn’t do it. I knew I could do something more with my education, so I did an independent study which led me to Earth Guardians even more.

 

Isabel: Transitioning a little bit, why do you think that the global climate strikes have been so helpful for getting youth involved in this conversation?

 

Marlow: It is just a direct call to action. Seeing Greta Thunberg strike for the first 3 weeks of school and then every Friday after that; it’s something so small, but it’s so big. All of a sudden, we started seeing these big marches and then to have 1.5 million students strike on March 15th was incredible. 

 

Isabel: What do you believe your community could do to be more environmentally aware and supportive of young people?

 

Marlow: I think Boulder could sign a pledge saying that they will be transitioning to renewable energy by 2030 and our university could do the same thing. We also need to encourage youth to show up to town halls and city council meetings. Those things make a huge impact.

 

Isabel: Are there any current activism projects or plans for the future you are working on?

 

Marlow: We are actually going to work with our local climate reality group to build a non-partisan presentation for our politicians with the goal of stopping natural gas fracking because that is a huge issue here. It has a huge impact on our air quality. We really want to start showing our leaders another way to do things that will not only create more jobs, but increase conservation efforts.

 

Isabel: Really cool! What advice do you have for other young people who want to speak out and change the world?

 

Marlow: If something really catches your attention, do some research, educate yourself and then share it with others. That can have a huge impact.

@marlowbaines

KARLA STEPHAN

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I spoke with Karla Stephan, a 14-year-old climate justice activist from Bethesda, MD. We talked about intersectionality in US Youth Climate Strikes, the importance of compromise, and a Climate Debate.

 

Isabel: What got you involved with political activism and what drew you to the climate movement in particular?

 

Karla: A lot of that comes from my parents. I grew up going to protests and the first time I ever participated in civil disobedience was with my mom. It also just comes from the fact that I want to fight for myself, my future, and others around me. Uplifting the voices of those who are silenced is just what my passion is. What drew me to climate activism is that this issue is not being addressed as it needs to be and it is not being taken as seriously as it needs to be. It’s going to affect youth the most and people in power aren’t doing anything about it even though it will literally destroy our future. Also, I want to fight for people in impoverished communities that are already being affected by it.

 

Isabel: Definitely. You were recently selected to be the National Finance Director for US Youth Climate Strikes. What are your hopes within that organization and why is it so important to you?

 

Karla: What is unique about USYCS is that we are really focused on intersectionality in the climate movement. We have people of color as our leaders because we know that those voices are the ones that need to be uplifted the most. We want to include everyone in our group. My hopes for the organization are that we implement real legislative change, but also encourage more activism on the local and state level as well. Grassroots organizing is so important and I hope this becomes a movement that the people in power can’t ignore.

 

Isabel: Yeah! Why do you believe that the climate strikes specifically are so impactful when it comes to evolving this conversation?

 

Karla: I think they are really impactful because it is a visual representation of how we feel. We did a strike outside of the Capitol and that’s not something that politicians can really ignore. It just shows them how we feel. 

 

Isabel: What would you like to see from politicians when it comes to how they protect the future generations on issues like climate change as well as gun reform or inequality?

 

Karla: Everybody is just on one side of the issue and they only want their ideas to happen, but I think the people in power just need to talk it out and come to a compromise. Maybe the Green New Deal can’t happen right now, but over time we can build small steps to getting there. Not too much time because this needs to be fast, but starting with just passing a few laws is something we need to do. The gun reform movement is the same thing. There are two sides and we need to be coming to a compromise. 

 

Isabel: Are there any current activism projects you would like to talk about or plans for the future?

 

Karla: We are still working on our petition for the 2020 presidential candidates to attend an environmentally centered debate. These people are going to be our next leaders, so we want more than just yes or no answers from them on climate change. We want to know what they are actually going to do. We are also continuing to strike which is really exciting.

 

Isabel: What advice would you give to other young people who want to speak out and change the world?

 

Karla: Just get involved with what you are passionate about and do what you can. Don’t try to jump on every opportunity, just stay focused on what you are passionate about because that is what you will be happy doing. Stay involved and uplift the voices that you can.

@karlastephan_

FELIQUAN CHARLEMAGNE

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I talked to Feliquan Charlemagne, a 17-year-old climate justice activist based in Ocala, FL. We talked about environmental racism, a Climate Debate, and design.

 

Isabel: Why is climate change a top priority issue for you as a young person?

 

Feliquan: When you look at every community that I am a part of, we are the ones most affected by climate change. I am originally from the Carribean where you can see hurricanes and other natural disasters. The tides are rising and that has been going on my entire life, but it’s getting worse due to climate change. I am also an African-American, and Black and low-income communities are the most affected by climate change. 

 

Isabel: How do you feel like climate inaction is intersectional with inequality for youth of color?

 

Feliquan: Being Black and from the Carribean puts me in two frontline communities, but there are Native American folks who have been fighting this fight for ages. Studies have also shown that Black teenagers will be more affected by environmental racism. That’s why you are seeing them become so strong in the fight for climate justice.

 

Isabel: Yeah, totally. Talk to me a little about the US Youth Climate Strike’s Climate Debate. What are your hopes for that going forward and how did it come about?

 

Feliquan: The idea came about because, besides the Green New Deal, there isn’t much intense climate policy in the United States. The Green New Deal is a framework for goals we would like to achieve. The Climate Debate would be hearing from politicians who support it and then hearing the rationale of those who don’t. Climate change is not mentioned enough and when it is mentioned, it’s usually just for a soundbite. 

 

Isabel: Yep! As the Creative Director for USYCS, why do you think that creativity and art in activism is so important?

 

Feliquan: It allows the movement to be receptive for all sorts of people. I have loved design for a long time. When an organization or company has something that is well-designed, we automatically start to think that it is more credible. I try to make sure we have a consistent design and our logo is colorful yet bold. It shows the urgency of this issue.

 

Isabel: What advice would you give to other young people who want to speak out or change the world?

 

Feliquan: You can do so much more than you expect. I had been an activist for a while before joining the climate strikes, but I never expected to make as much of an impact as I am today. I live in a small town in the middle of nowhere and I am originally from a small island. I never expected to be doing something this big. Once you understand your skills and believe in yourself, it is up to you the kind of change you make.

@feliquan

GRACE LAMBERT

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I talked to Grace Lambert, a 16-year-old climate justice activist from Seattle, WA. We spoke about adults, focusing on the future, and Washington state.

 

Isabel: When did you first get involved in climate activism and why is it so important to you?

 

Grace: I just got involved as an organizer recently, but it is something I always wanted to do. I have been just going to protests and doing whatever I can to help in my own small way. Climate activism is important because it is going to affect our entire future. If adults aren’t speaking up, then we have to.

 

Isabel: You mentioned being an organizer. What was the most memorable part of organizing the Seattle Youth Climate Strike back in March?

 

Grace: I was one of the first people there and just looking out into the crowd and seeing how many people showed up was really cool. It’s something I’ll never forget.

 

Isabel: What are your goals for the future within the climate strikes and the climate movement in general?

 

Grace: For me, I would really love for adults to take action so that we don’t have to be organizing this anymore. I love doing it, but it’s not something I should have to do. I should be able to focus on school. 

 

Isabel: Speaking of adults, what do you hope lawmakers learn from young people when it comes to creating change?

 

Grace: I hope they learn that it is not about them, it’s about the future. They are all concerned about our economy right now or job losses right now, but eventually we are going to have to choose to focus on climate now for our future. It’s gonna suck, but it is something we have to do.

 

Isabel: Are there any current activism projects or plans for the future that you would like to talk about?

 

Grace: We are still organizing strikes which is really exciting. We are just putting together exactly what we want to see from Washington state specifically. 

 

Isabel: What advice would you give to other young people who want to speak out and change the world?

 

Grace: It’s not as scary as you think it is and you can do it. It’s gonna be hard, but you’ll find people along the way who will help you. 

@grace._lambert

CLAIRE NELSON

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I spoke with Claire Nelson, a 16 year-old climate justice activist from Phoenix, AZ. We talked about Arizona Youth Climate Strike, clean energy, and the boring stuff.

 

Isabel: Talk about your recent experience with the Arizona Climate Strike. What inspired you to get involved with that and how impactful do you feel that it was?

 

Claire: I was inspired to get involved by the students in Europe who did a huge strike in February. So, I did some research and I got in contact with my now co-lead, Aditi. We started working with her organization Zero Hour Phoenix, to organize our local strike. I feel like it was really impactful. Our biggest impact was being able to connect with other organizations and supporters from across the state. We also got some meetings with our local state representatives and some city officials. We are going to continue to advocate for climate policy on the city, state, and national level.

 

Isabel: What do you believe that your lawmakers in Arizona should be doing better when it comes to climate change and environmental action?

 

Claire: Currently there are no plans to accelerate Arizona’s transition to a 100% clean energy grid. Arizona has no significant fossil fuel reserves but one of the highest potentials for solar in the nation. However, our government officials and the people who run our power companies refuse to invest in this opportunity. We could revitalize Arizona’s economy through the investment in clean energy and protect our environment at the same time, but instead consumers are punished for installing solar by fees from power companies and we have to deal with pollution that comes from Arizona’s coal plants. Arizona also refuses to incentivize the transition to electric vehicles even though cars are one of the most common sources of pollution in our capitol city, Phoenix. Across Arizona on the city, county and state level, our climate action plans are outdated and not as strong as they should be. Our cities also are terrible at waste management, our recycling programs are mediocre, and the state government actually banned banning plastic bags. We are one of the most beautiful and ecologically diverse states, but our government has taken no steps to actually protect our ecosystem and the future of our residents. I hope to be part of the group of people from across the state that actually gets things done.

 

Isabel: As a youth climate activist, why do you think it is important to be intersectional in your activism especially relating to other political issues?

 

Claire: Intersectionality is so important in activism and in politics because a single group of people can never see the full picture. Climate change and pollution affect people in different ways, but it hits our low-income communities the hardest. These are the communities who face the most challenges from power companies and who face the biggest threat from the heat. The rich can plant trees and blast the AC, but our low-income communities don’t have that option. Most of the coal plants in Arizona are on reservations. That means they are polluting the air of our tribal communities across Arizona. It is important that their voices are represented in our movement. It is our job to fight for them when they cannot, but also to uplift their voices and put them in front of our movement, so the solutions that are implemented can help them instead of doing more damage. It is so important that youth are represented in the environmental issue because we, as a generation, are the ones most impacted. Adults need to start making changes alongside us because there is no way we can fix this problem on our own. We need radical action from everyone and we need it now.

 

Isabel: Why do you think that youth-led movements have been so successful with advocating for change?

 

Claire: Youth-led movements are powerful just because of the passion that young people have about the things that they care about. Some of the biggest movements have been led by youth. We often feel underrepresented in our government and that our problems are being ignored. We are driven by anger and frustration, but also by a burning fire in our spirits and a bright idealism that motivates us to shoot for the stars. Anything can be our moonshot and anything can happen if we work hard enough. We aren’t jaded like some adults are. We haven’t been torn down by the system. We believe in the future and we believe in change.

 

Isabel: Are there any current activism projects you are working on that you wanna shout out or plans for the future?

 

Claire: If you live in Arizona and want to support the work that my team and I do, follow us on social media @climatestrikeaz. If you are a student and would like to join the Arizona Youth Climate Strike email us at climatestrikeaz@gmail.com.

 

Isabel: What advice do you have for other young people who want to speak out and change the world?

 

Claire: Changing the world is overrated. Local government is where the power is. Your state legislature, city council, and school board has more of an impact on your life than the federal government does. They decide what happens in your community. If I can change the way Arizona does things, we are one step closer to our goal. If I can convince Arizona to become green, the power we sell to other states becomes green too. If I can get our senators and representatives on our side, that would be more voices on the national level advocating for change. In your local government, your voice matters. We don’t have to dance around the problems of a nation and the world, we can focus on ourselves. We can be productive and impactful on the local level and become leaders in our communities making actual change instead of one small voice in a sea of thousands. Activism isn’t fun and games. Activism is not just press and protests, it’s boring too. Activism is sitting in city council meetings and budget meetings that bore you out of your mind. Activism is researching the issues more than is probably necessary. Activism is sending out the same email for the 5th time and hoping people show up. Activism is more than tweeting and protesting, it’s the boring stuff too. People need to pay more attention to the boring stuff because that is how things get done.

@nelson.claire

ANYA SASTRY

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I talked with Anya Sastry, a 16-year-old climate justice activist from Barrington, IL. We spoke about being National Outreach Director, giving youth the chance to speak, and the U.N.

 

Isabel: So, you were recently elected to serve as National Outreach Director for the US Youth Climate Strikes. Why is that organization so important to you?

 

Anya: That organization is so important to me because I feel like it’s addressing issues that people in power and elected officials are not. Environmental injustice is a vital issue and adults need to address it as such. I also love that it is entirely youth-led. Our generation is taking things into our own hands.

 

Isabel: As National Outreach Director, how do you plan to uplift and empower youth within the climate movement?

 

Anya: I’m really focused on amplifying the voices of youth who have not had the chance to speak in this platform. The people from a lower socioeconomic status of lesser privilege. I think it is important to put activists on the frontlines of this movement who have felt the impact of the climate crisis firsthand.

 

Isabel: I saw a video of your speech at the climate strike in March and it was very powerful. What was the message you were trying to convey with that speech and how was the event impactful overall?

 

Anya: I wanted to convey that young people see this issue as a crisis. We only have 11 years left and people in power are not taking appropriate action to solve this. I also wanted to let my audience know that it is our time to take action and whether adults like it or not, we are here to stay.

 

Isabel: This is a general question, but it’s important. Why is climate change a top priority issue for you, as a young person?

 

Anya: Climate change is a top priority for me because my generation is going to have to deal with the repercussions of the climate crisis, if we don’t solve it now. I want myself, my children, and the future generations to have a livable future.

 

Isabel: Are there any current activism projects or plans for the future you would like to talk about?

 

Anya: US Youth Climate Strikes will continue to do school strikes and we have a lot of cool projects coming up. I also know that the U.N will be having a discussion about the climate crisis in September, so that will be very interesting to partake in.

 

Isabel: Totally. What advice would you give to other young people who want to speak out and change the world?

 

Anya: Just know that your voice is powerful. There will be people who will try to silence you, but if you use your voice in the right way, it can create ripples of change.

@anyasastry

ZAYNE COWIE

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I chatted with Zayne Cowie, a 9 year-old climate justice activist from New York City, NY. We talked about Greta Thunberg, trolls, and ways to help the environment.

 

Isabel: Why do you believe lawmakers need to listen to young people when discussing climate change

 

Zayne: Because it is going to impact youth more than anyone else.

 

Isabel: What inspired you to strike from school as a way to protest climate inaction and why is it important for you to continue doing?

 

Zayne: My mom read me an article about Greta Thunberg, because she thought I could relate - Greta is autistic and so am I. I keep striking because at the end of each strike I feel like I have accomplished something.

 

Isabel: What is your message to adults that don’t believe the striking is productive and are ignoring the issue of climate change?

Zayne: I don't respond to trolls.

 

Isabel: What do you believe our society can do to be more environmentally friendly and help lead the fight against global warming?

 

Zayne: Governments can declare a national emergency, switch to renewables, reduce car ownership, and improve bike lanes. Individuals can eat less meat, fly less and get out of your cars. This benefits you and the environment.

 

Isabel: Are there any current activism projects or plans for the future you would like to talk about?

 

Zayne: I am going to keep striking and try to get more people to join my strikes.

 

Isabel: Awesome! What advice would you give to other young people who want to speak out and change the world?

 

Zayne: Follow those dreams!

@zaynecowie

MADDY STEVENS

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I spoke to Maddy Stevens, a 17 year-old climate justice activist from Kent, CT. We chatted about the urgency of climate change, youth standing up, and animation.

 

Isabel: So, you were the co-organizer of the Connecticut Climate Strike in March. What was that experience like and what inspired you to get involved?

 

Maddy: Co-organizing my first strike was an amazing experience. I had always wanted to be a part of a group and work as a team after learning about other environmental youth groups like Zero Hour.

 

Isabel: As a young person, why is climate a top priority issue for you?

 

Maddy: Climate change is affecting not only future generations but our generation as well. As a young person, I am scared for my future. If climate change is affecting us (underprivileged people more) now, then what will happen in the future is frightening. We are the ones who are going to be affected yet the ones who aren’t, are not doing anything about it.

 

Isabel: Totally. How do you feel that your community could better support the climate justice movement?

 

Maddy: My community could better support the climate justice movement by educating the public about the urgency of the issue. There are many other ways as well like converting to renewable energy that would show their support.

 

Isabel: What would you say to people who believe that climate change is “too big” of a problem for young people to solve and why do you think this youth-led movement is so important?

 

Maddy: Climate change is a large issue but that doesn’t make it unsolvable. We have all the tools to fix climate change. The consequences are just too grand to shrug it off. It is important for us youth to stand up for what we believe in and show the people in power that they can’t forget about us. Their policies are affecting us even if we can’t vote yet.

 

Isabel: Yep! Are there any current activism projects that you wanna shout out or plans for the future?

 

Maddy: I am currently working on an animation series to educate kids about the effects of climate change. The Connecticut Youth Climate Strike recently hosted another event on May 3rd. You can stay up to date by following @ctclimatestrike on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

 

Isabel: What is your advice to other young people who want to speak out and change the world?

 

Maddy: My advice is to not let others undermine you. You are more powerful than you think. Even if you may not be able to vote, you can still make change. You can’t wait for others to solve the issue for you. If you want to know how to get involved, make connections. Reach out to others in your town and on social media. There are an endless amount of incredible youth helping save our planet.

@miss.maddy.makes

MADDY FERNANDS

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I spoke with Maddy Fernands, a 16 year-old climate justice activist from Edina, MN. We talked about Greta Thunberg, Minnesota Can’t Wait, and youth activists being amazing.

 

Isabel: Why is climate justice meaningful to you as a young person?

 

Maddy: Climate justice is important to me as a young person because I want to make sure that the world myself, my friends, and future generations grow up in, exists. It’s not just about making sure our climate is just, but also ensuring that any systems we have in our world are just as well.

 

Isabel: Yep! Talk to me a little bit about your work with the US Youth Climate Strikes. How did that movement form and why is it so important?

 

Maddy: So, the US Youth Climate Strikes were initially started by Greta Thunberg’s climate action at the Swedish parliament. What Greta did was, she messed up the systemic flow. With the way our society works, kids have to go to school and adults have to go to work. By Greta refusing to go to school, she has forced a dialogue about climate change that should’ve happened a long time ago. That is what I feel that we can do in the United States. Our country pulled out of the Paris agreement when every other country didn’t, our Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, rushed a vote on the Green New Deal so it wouldn’t happen, we are constantly listening to fossil fuel companies instead of grassroots activists, and these strikes are important because students are saying that we are in dire need of change. Our futures are on the line.

Isabel: Yay! What has been your most memorable experience with youth activism and what did it teach you?

 

Maddy: It’s not really an experience, but the people I have been through youth activism are some of the most amazing, kind, and hard-working people I have ever encountered in my life. I will be on calls talking with them about intense societal issues and those moments are so precious to me because I always feel so heard.

 

Isabel: Are there any current activism projects or plans for the future you would like to talk about?

 

Maddy: The US Youth Climate Strike is a national organization focused on striking for climate and making sure climate conversations are in political dialogue.

 

Isabel: Very cool. What advice would you give to other young people who want to speak out and change the world?

 

Maddy: Never underestimate your opinion, perspective, or contribution to whatever movement you are a part of. Youth activism can be whatever you want it to be for yourself. It is all important.

@maddyfernands

KENDALL KIERAS

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I spoke with Kendall Kieras, a 16 year-old climate justice activist from Seattle, WA. We talked about social media, the recent UN report on climate change, and diversity.

 

Isabel: What got you involved in climate activism and what within the movement inspires you?

 

Kendall: I've been involved in social justice conversations for a pretty long time, but I started out as a climate activist last year. Jamie Margolin, my best friend and Zero Hour's founder, did a presentation about Zero Hour at my school. I signed up to volunteer after that, and have been doing climate justice work ever since. I am continually inspired by all the amazing youth within Zero Hour.

 

Isabel: Why do you believe that lawmakers need to act now on climate change?

 

Kendall: A UN report came out a day before my 16th birthday, saying that we have 12 years to address climate change before the world as we know it is forever changed. This isn't a nice little piece of legislation we can write off when it's convenient. This is urgent.

 

Isabel: Absolutely. So, you used to be the social media lead for Zero Hour, a youth-led climate justice organization. What was it like fighting for climate justice through social media and what does the movement as a whole mean to you?

 

Kendall: Using social media as a tool for activism is a really interesting process. Social media and youth are intrinsically linked. We've grown up with social media, and using social media as a platform for activism has made it accessible in a way it hadn't been previously. However, I'm also keenly aware of the pitfalls of social media. As social media director for Zero Hour, I had to remember to focus on educating rather than tearing people down. Zero Hour as a whole means advocating through diversity. Mainstream climate justice ignores the people at the center of climate change: people of color, queer people, women, etc. Zero Hour seeks to correct the injustice through being a supportive, minority-led space. Every volunteer you'll find at Zero Hour is diverse and has an incredibly unique story, which is very special to me.

 

Isabel: How do you believe that social media can be used as a positive tool for young people and what is the biggest misconception around it?

 

Kendall: Social media can be an incredibly positive space to find a like-minded community. In some ways, I believe if you haven't grown up with social media, you can't fully understand it. Youth use social media as a diary, a jumping off space to organize moments, and a place to create a community. The way Zero Hour interacts with adults on our platform is vastly different than how we interact with youth. Adults see social media through a different lens than youth do, which is why it can be misconstrued as a meaningless waste of time.

 

Isabel: Are there any current activism projects you are working on that you wanna shout out or plans for the future?

 

Kendall: I'm currently working on a project which unites my love for writing and activism in a very special way. Stay tuned on Zero Hour's socials for more. My current position within Zero Hour is Executive Director of Zero Hour Seattle, and a member of the national comms team.

 

Isabel: I’m asking everybody this: What advice do you have for young people who want to speak out and change the world?

 

Kendall: Figure out what you can contribute to the movement. One of the first things I did for Zero Hour was writing a weekly environment-based poem for our social media. There are a million things I couldn't bring to the table, but all I needed was one thing I could.  For me, poems were that thing. Look for the strengths you can bring that others can't. Speaking out is easiest when you use the special skills you already have.

thisiszerohour.org

MAX PRESTO

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I spoke with Max Presto, a 17 year-old climate justice activist from Madison, WI. We talked about the Wisconsin Youth Climate Action Team, adults trying to debate science, and being persistent.

 

Isabel: Talk about your recent experience with the Wisconsin Youth Climate Strikes. What was that like and how did you get involved?

 

Max: I was the state lead for it, so I got to organize some really fun and engaging stuff with my peers. On March 15th, we had about 2,000 people and it was really cool to witness the power that Greta Thunberg has had on the world. Especially as students, we are tired of the normal channels of change and we can see that something’s not working. That’s why we got involved.

 

Isabel: I also saw from your Instagram that you work with the WI Youth Climate Action Team. What are your hopes for that group and where did the idea stem from?

 

Max: The other state leads from WI and I are now the executive directors of that. It’s not just about doing something post-strike, it’s about continuing this wave of change. We have plans to occupy offices, hold demonstrations, give testimonies, and connect people’s voices to the government. We just want to get young people involved.

 

Isabel: That’s great. What would you like to see our politicians doing when it comes to climate action on a local and national level?

 

Max: I want bold and sweeping action on climate change. I know it might seem unrealistic for our politicians to come together to fight the greatest threat to humanity, but I am hoping to make a statement that young people have a valid opinion about this. It’s crazy that the people who are supposed to be our role models are debating whether or not science is real.

 

Isabel: Yep. Switching gears a little bit, I know you are also an advocate for gun reform in the United States. Why do you think that young people are so motivated and successful at creating change on issues like that?

 

Max: The reason I think youth should be involved in fighting climate change is because we will the the generation that is most affected by it and the last generation with a chance of stopping it. I think the same goes for gun control. We have seen a huge rise in shootings and it’s scary. Young people are saying that we believe this is an important issue and it is upsetting that there is no protection for our lives.

 

Isabel: Are there any current activism projects or plans for the future you would like to talk about?

 

Max: I’m working on registering voters and making sure young people have their voices heard. There are people who think that just because we can’t vote, we don’t have a valid opinion. That idea diminishes our democracy and it’s a dangerous path to go down.

 

Isabel: What is your advice for other young people who want to speak out and change the world?

 

Max: Be persistent and proactive. That is the best way we can make ourselves heard and break the status quo.

@max.presto

SOHAYLA ELDEEB

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I talked to Sohayla Eldeeb, an 18 year-old climate justice activist from Port Orange, FL. We spoke about an educational climate curriculum, being the Global Outreach Director for Zero Hour, and #JoinJulianna.

 

Isabel: What made you passionate about climate justice and how has that evolved over time?

 

Sohayla: My family comes from Egypt where there is a lot of pollution and the air quality is very bad. After seeing this, I started organizing a campaign that centers around an educational curriculum to teach elementary schoolers about the environment and how to implement change. I did a lot of scientific research on oil spills and sustainable methodology, but no one would fund the expansion of my research, so I turned more to progressive activism.  

 

Isabel: Talk about your work with Zero Hour. How did you get involved in that movement and what does your involvement currently look like?

 

Sohayla: I had a climate internship that led to me being introduced to Zero Hour and youth activism. When I came into Zero Hour, they were setting up for the Youth Climate March, so I just did a lot of communications work and then my job became coordinating all of the sister marches around the world. After the march ended, I became the Global Outreach/Relations Director and stayed in touch with all the sister march organizers.

 

Isabel: That’s awesome. Why do you think the youth will be the ones to end climate change?

 

Sohayla: Our generation is very aware of not only what is affecting us today, but what will affect us tomorrow and in our future. We are a living example of the urgency of the climate crisis and if we want something done about it, we have to do it ourselves.

 

Isabel: What do you believe could be improved with the climate activism movement going forward?

 

Sohayla: Sometimes people join the climate justice movement for the wrong reasons. They get into it because it’s “trendy” or they do really good work, but don’t ask the right people for help to make a bigger impact. I’ve worked a lot with organizers who have never hosted an event or spoken in public and they are the ones who need mentoring. While it is nice to see young climate leaders getting lots of media coverage, it’s also important to pay attention to the young people trying to get involved.

 

Isabel: Very good point. Are there any current activism projects or plans for the future that you would like to talk about?

 

Sohayla: One really cool thing is that Zero Hour has been invited to write the amicus brief for a youth environmental court case and we have launched a campaign called #JoinJulianna to get people involved. Also, we are currently planning a huge youth action this summer. Stay tuned for that!

 

Isabel: What advice would you give to other young people who want to speak out and change the world?

 

Sohayla: First of all, do it. Don’t be afraid that you don’t have the same level of skills as another young person. The thing we see constantly in the youth activism community is that the people who are leading these movements often times had no idea what they were doing at one point.

@sohayeldeeb

HAVEN COLEMAN

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I chatted with Haven Coleman, a 13 year-old climate justice activist from Denver, CO. We spoke about being underestimated, starting the US Youth Climate Strike movement, and fighting for our future.

 

Isabel: Why do you think it is important for kids to be on the frontlines fighting against climate change?

 

Haven: It’s important because it is our future and our lives. Politicians don’t have to live through the worst of climate change, but my generation is going to see it. So why not fight?

 

Isabel: Totally. I know that you have been striking from school for a while now. What have you learned from your climate strikes about youth activism in our society?

 

Haven: I have learned that adults do not take the youth voice seriously. They underestimate the power of our voices, and when we do speak up it sends a wave of change!

 

Isabel: Tell me a little about the US Youth Climate Strikes. What does that movement mean to you and how did you get involved?

 

Haven: I started the US Youth Climate Strike with Isra Hirsi. The movement means that youth can fight back and that we are strong!

 

Isabel: You also spoke at an event for the Green New Deal. Why do you believe politicians aren’t listening to youth when it comes to climate legislation?

 

Haven: I spoke at the Speaker of the House Pelosi’s office in December. I believe that politicians don’t listen to us and care about the climate crisis because they won’t be affected as much as we will.

 

Isabel: Are there any current activism projects you are working on that you wanna shout out or plans for the future?

 

Haven: My main focus right now is the US Youth Climate Strike Movement.

 

Isabel: What advice do you have for young people who want to speak out and change the world?

 

Haven: Just do it. It is our future so we have a right to stand up and fight for it. Throughout my whole activism career, I have never regretted a minute of it.

@climateactivist

ARIELLE MARTINEZ COHEN

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I spoke with Arielle Martinez Cohen, a 17 year-old climate justice activist from Los Angeles, CA. We chatted about songwriting, local actions, and the Zero Hour team.

 

Isabel: What got you involved in youth activism specifically in the climate movement?

 

Arielle: I had a teacher in elementary school who was teaching us about how palm oil affects orangutans and how that industry is not sustainable. It really struck me how many products had palm oil, so I tried to get my family to stop using them. That is where my climate interest started. As far as youth activism, I got involved with the March For Our Lives in Los Angeles. I’m also a songwriter and I write a lot about social issues, so I wrote a song after the Parkland shooting to perform at the march. It was just really cool to work with other kids my age and while gun violence is an extremely important issue to focus on, I also feel like climate change will be the issue of our time because we have 11 years left to reverse it. That is what drove me to get involved with Zero Hour.

 

Isabel: Wow, that is a perfect segway. Can you talk a little bit about your work with Zero Hour and what it means for you to be part of a youth-led climate justice organization?

 

Arielle: I originally got involved when I planned the Zero Hour Youth Climate Sister March in Los Angeles, but I also wrote a song called “Two Minutes Till Midnight” which is now the official song of the movement. I went to the national march, sang my song, and then got on the Partnerships and Advocacy team. I am now on the Logistics team as well, but my main role is reaching out to partners and seeing how we could work together. Getting on calls every week and listening to these people from across the country is so inspiring. It can be such a lonely thing as a youth activist when you are hearing all the bad stuff happening around the world, but when you have other people working with you, it makes it easier.

 

Isabel: That’s so cool. You mentioned Los Angeles a little bit and I was wondering, what has your community done when it comes to fighting climate change and encouraging activism?
 

Arielle: In California, they just passed something saying that restaurants no longer automatically give out plastic straws, which is a small action, but it will reduce the amount of plastic we throw away. I just think it’s important to get involved in our local initiatives and actions. I know a lot of activists work on social media, but I think that showing up is the number one step because that’s what really propels the movement.

 

Isabel: Totally. You also mentioned being a songwriter and an artist. How does your love of music help you advocate for change?

 

Arielle: Music can make people feel emotions that inspire them to take action. When it came to the environmental movement, I just took my music and gave what I could offer. I have gotten to write songs for other organizations and it is really cool because music brings people together.

 

Isabel: I am obsessed with your songs honestly. Are there any activism projects you would like to talk about?

 

Arielle: A few members of the national Zero Hour team just helped organize the youth climate strikes and I organized one in Los Angeles with lots of youth speakers. The strikes helped to spread the word about the climate movement. That’s just really awesome.

 

Isabel: What advice would you give to other young people who want to speak out and change the world?

 

Arielle: Don’t get discouraged because it can be difficult to work with people who may not value your voice as much, but keep trying and don’t lose hope.

@ariellemartinezcohen

ELSA MENGISTU

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I spoke to Elsa Mengistu, a 17 year-old climate justice activist from Thomasville, NC. We talked about Zero Hour, the impacts of climate change for people of color, and intersectionality.

 

Isabel: Can you tell me a little bit about your work with Zero Hour? What are your responsibilities within the organization and what initially got you involved with it?

 

Elsa: Almost a year ago, I saw this post on Facebook from an organization called Zero Hour and when I read more about them, I thought it was really cool that they talked about climate justice. They really focused on people and uplifting the voices of those who would be most impacted by climate change, voices like mine. I reached out to them and then ended up on the partnerships team. As of now, I am the Director of Operations and my role really extends to whatever else the group might need as well. That could be organizing events, figuring out logistics, collaborating with other youth organizations, or assisting on any new projects.

 

Isabel: That’s really cool. What do you think our lawmakers are getting wrong when it comes to the youth-led climate fight?

 

Elsa: I think they don’t see it. Up until this last year, I do not think that youth climate activism was as visible as it is right now. There has just been this power shift and wave of youth activism. Like the school strikes for climate are coming up for the United States and that is something that has been happening in Europe for the last few months. The Green New Deal is pushing people to get active in this movement and a lot of those people are younger like us. I think lawmakers have not been really seeing the youth, but that is starting to change.

 

Isabel: How does being a young woman of color affect your fight for climate justice around the world but especially in the United States?

 

Elsa: Right now, I am privileged to not have to face some negative effects, but that privilege only lasts so long when you are a Black person in America. People like me are going to be impacted by climate change early on and we are going to be impacted the worst. Communities like mine are going to receive less funding, less support, and we are going to have to deal with these problems on our own. It may not be affecting me right now, but it will soon.

 

Isabel: I know you are also an advocate for immigrant rights and racial equality. How do you feel like climate change is intersectional with those other issues?

 

Elsa: I was born in Ethiopia and I immigrated here when I was younger. Climate change is intersectional because it supersedes nationality or geography. I am an immigrant and climate change is going to be one of the largest causes of climate refugees. That’s just one intersection in itself. There are also so many people who don’t have the resources to adapt as quickly to our changing weather patterns, those people are usually poor, and they are usually people of color. That is another huge intersection. Of course climate change will affect all of us, but it won’t affect us all equally.

 

Isabel: That is correct. Are there any current activism projects or plans for the future that you would like to talk about?

 

Elsa: Zero Hour is actually working on some really cool events happening in Miami this July and we are also helping to support the school strikes on March 15th. Outside of Zero Hour, I have just been trying to expand my horizons and support people wherever I can.

 

Isabel: What advice do you have for other young people who want to speak out and change the world?

 

Elsa: Take it one day at a time. We are not going to change the world overnight and a lot of activists can get burnout, but taking it one day at a time and finding spaces you can fit into as yourself is important. Just do your best. Activism isn’t knowing it all, it is learning and being open.

@elsamengistu

LILLY PLATT

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I spoke with Lilly Platt, a 10 year-old climate justice activist from Utrecht, Netherlands. We talked about plastic pollution, protecting all living things, and going on school strike. 

 

Isabel: I want to talk a little about your plastic pickup because that is something you have become very known for. What inspired you to create that?

 

Lilly: In 2015, I was walking with my grandpa and we started counting the pieces of plastic on the ground to try and improve my Dutch speaking. We counted 91 pieces of plastic and in a 15-minute walk, that is a lot. Then my grandpa told me that it might take a day, week, month, or year, but everything on the ground will end up in the ocean. I just thought “Ok I have to do something about this. I have to pick it up.” That’s how Lilly’s Plastic Pickup started. 

 

Isabel: There are also the school strikes going on right now for climate action. What would you say that movement is all about?

 

Lilly: It’s so all politicians and world leaders will start to listen. So that they will keep to the Paris Agreement, recognize rising global warming temperatures and lower the daily emission usage. So many people have told me “Why do this? Why don’t you go back to school or just go play with some dolls?” Well, I have news for you: I don’t really like dolls. 

 

Isabel: Speaking of world leaders and politicians, what do you think they could do to better support kids growing up in the climate crisis?
 

Lilly: They need to open their eyes and see what they’ve been doing wrong. They need to think about all the animals they have killed for no reason, they need to think about all the trees they have cut down just for paper or land, they need to think about how much the seas have suffered, and most of all they need to think about all living things, not just themselves. It’s not all about money. Money doesn’t have a soul or a heart, but animals and people do. They need to listen, think, and open their eyes.

 

Isabel: I completely agree with that. Why do you believe that young people can beat climate change and save the world?

 

Lilly: Children should be allowed to use their voices, not just adults. A lot of people think they don’t have to listen to children because we are small, but it’s usually the smallest people who have the biggest voices. 

 

Isabel: Totally. Are there any current activism projects you are working on or anything like that you want to shout out? 

 

Lilly: There is the Elephant Project with HowGlobal where they put beehives around African village crops to try and stop elephants from getting into the crops. They are trying to protect the crops as well as the elephant’s health and safety. I am also going to Scotland to speak on a youth panel about plastic pollution and marine life. Lastly, I was chosen for Ocean Hero’s bootcamp in Canada.

 

Isabel: Congrats! I’m asking everybody this: What advice do you have for other young people who want to speak out and change the world?

 

Lilly: You are brave, you are strong, and your voice is more powerful than any negative words. You can do this. You can save the world just by going on these school strikes and fighting for climate. You are the mouse that roars like a lion!

@lillys_plastic_pickup

ZANAGEE ARTIS

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I had a conversation with Zanagee Artis, a 19 year-old climate justice activist from Connecticut. We talked about the Youth Climate March, intersectionality in climate justice, and the motivation of young people.

 

Isabel: So, you are the Director Of Logistics for Zero Hour. What are your responsibilities and what does the organization mean to you?

 

Zanagee: As Director of Logistics, I organized the Zero Hour Youth Climate March in Washington D.C. and assisted logistics leads for sister marches in West Palm Beach, Florida, New York City and other locations to organize their own marches. For the D.C. march, I coordinated with vendors to secure a stage/sound and created the march route from the National Mall to Lincoln Park. My team and I also coordinated with the Capitol Police, National Park Service, and the Metropolitan Police to secure permits for road closures along the route. When I helped create Zero Hour, I believed it would be a movement that would connect youth climate justice activists. I think that the march in D.C. and the numerous sister marches around the world accomplished that, and empowered more young people to get involved in climate justice.

 

Isabel: That's so cool. What has being an environmental justice activist taught you?

 

Zanagee: Being an environmental justice activist has taught me that saving the environment is about saving people. In addition to this, because of climate justice’s focus on people, I’ve gained a new understanding that everywhere that people live is its own unique environment and must be cared for in unique ways.

 

Isabel: Yeah, for sure. People seem to be aware of protecting the environment, but there is still a lot of inaction from politicians. Why do you believe that everybody should care about climate change and work to fix it?

 

Zanagee: Climate activists have known for years that everybody should care about climate change because it affords us the platform to address other issues and is the most interconnecting issue in the world. Although it is impacting everyone differently and to varying degrees, climate change is already impacting everyone on the planet. It is connected to national security, infrastructure, racism, and human health.

 

Isabel: I notice that every political movement has a lot of youth on the frontlines. Why do you believe that young people will bring change to all of the major issues facing this country?

 

Zanagee: Young people will bring change to all major issues facing this country because we’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain from changing our world for the better. We have our whole futures ahead of us and we’re the most motivated to create change to ensure that we’re able to have that future.

 

Isabel: I’m asking everybody this: What advice do you have for young people who want to speak out and change the world?
 

Zanagee: For young people who want to speak out and change the world, they should know that every action, whether national movement organizing or just meeting with a local official individually, it contributes to creating positive change and it means something even if effects aren’t seen immediately.

@nageeartis

IRIS FEN

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I had a great conversation with Iris Fen, an 18 year-old environmental justice activist from New York. We talked about the power of nature, lawmaker’s inaction, and working with your best friends.

 

Isabel: What inspired you to start fighting against climate change and how has it shaped your perspective on the world around you?

 

Iris: It wasn’t really one thing in particular. When I was younger my family’s farm was destroyed by a flooding disaster. I realized how powerful nature is and how much destruction it can actually cause. Later on, my father and I protested fracking where corporations were trying to pollute the drinking water in our community. That taught me that we have to fight for nature if we want a liveable future on this planet.

 

Isabel: What do you think that lawmakers are getting wrong when it comes to environmental rights?

 

Iris: Lawmakers are not connecting environmental justice with other things. They aren’t thinking about the fact that we literally need water to survive and when it is polluted, that kills people. They don’t care about the fact that earth is our home and we have to take care of it or we won’t be able to survive. They just aren’t taking action to protect this planet. Also, we are on land that is not our own and indigenous people have sacred burning traditions that are not being respected. So now, we are seeing these massive wildfires all around California. When the media covers those wildfires you hear about what is going on, but you don’t get to see the faces of the people who were the most affected and it feels like such an inaccessible issue.

 

Isabel: For sure. I have talked to a few members of Zero Hour which I think is an incredible organization. For you specifically, what does it mean to be a part of such a huge youth-led movement?

 

Iris: When I was younger, I always wished I would see other kids at protests. Adults would always say “I am doing this for my kids and grandkids,” but I wanted to see the kids and grandkids showing up themselves. It’s just so cool that I have found this family to be inspired and motivated with everyday. It’s awesome that I get to take action towards climate justice with my best friends.

 

Isabel: I also love how this movement has so many young women on the frontlines. How does being a teenage girl affect your fight for climate justice?

 

Iris: We have taken some steps back when it comes to women’s rights, so I think just seeing women take action on anything that negatively affects them is so powerful. It is also very powerful to see groups of young women coming together to fight for what they believe in. When women speak up, we start to see massive changes.

 

Isabel: Totally. Are there any current activism projects you are working on?

 

Iris: We are working on our next big actions which I can’t say much about, but we are going to try and highlight climate change to make sure everyone is educated on the effects of it. I am juggling a lot trying to balance school with activism and my own health, but exciting things are coming up.

 

Isabel: I’m asking everybody this: What advice do you have for other young people who want to speak out and change the world?

 

Iris: Your voice matters. No matter your race, religion, sexual orientation, or background. We need your voice out there to make a change. The planet needs your voice to make a change. Keep going, keep taking action, and you can change the world.

@iris.fen

NADIA NAZAR

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I had an awesome conversation with Nadia Nazar, a 16 year-old climate activist from Baltimore. We talked about Zero Hour, the youth, and saving the entire planet.

 

Isabel: So, you are one of the founding members of the organization Zero Hour. Can you talk about what that organization does and what it means to you?

 

Nadia: Zero Hour is a youth-led climate organization. We mainly focus on climate justice and how climate change is an intersectional issue caused by systems of oppression that we need to dismantle in order to solve it. We are really just fighting for a liveable planet because we will be the ones most affected by climate change and we have such little time left. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change just released a report saying that we have 12 years until climate change is irreversible. It’s important to create a national sense of urgency that we need to solve climate change now.

 

Isabel: Yes. There is a lawsuit going on right now where young people across the country are suing the federal government for climate inaction. How is Zero Hour involved in that?

 

Nadia: Zero Hour is not personally involved in that, but we are partners with the organization Our Children’s Trust and they are doing the lawsuit. We are very supportive of them and Jaimie Margolin (founder of Zero Hour) is one of the plaintiffs in the Washington state trial. It’s great to see that the youth are really stepping up at a systematic level.

 

Isabel: I see more younger people on the frontlines for climate justice than any other demographic. Why do you believe that this resonates with so many kids?

 

Nadia: I think this resonates with us because we are going to be the ones most affected by it. We have been seeing the consequences already with the wildfires in California. Just imagine your home, your family, and your life being destroyed because of something you didn’t choose. We were brought into this world and we started heading in this direction that we don’t want. We just want to live a normal, happy life and the fact that this could kill a lot of our generation is really depressing.

 

Isabel: For sure. What can adults and lawmakers do to support the youth in the fight to basically save the planet?

 

Nadia: Adults and lawmakers could be allies in this fight by taking a step back from speaking, letting us lead, and then actually listening to what we have to say. They should listen to everybody around them and see if they can find actual solutions to climate change. Just put more effort towards it.

 

Isabel: Are there any activist projects you are currently working on that you want to talk about?

 

Nadia: We are going to be organizing some events next July in Miami which hasn’t been announced yet, but it will be something big. I can’t talk much about it, but we do have a lot of upcoming projects.

 

Isabel: Very cool. I’m asking everyone this: What advice do you have for other young people who want to speak out and change the world?

 

Nadia: My advice for young people would be to turn your frustration into motivation. A lot of people get angry, but they don’t do anything about it. So, if you are angry or upset about something then go and fix it. You have the power. Don’t let anybody stop you. People are always asking us what we want to be when we grow up, but what do you want to be right now? Become that person and change the world.

@mickey_nadia

ELLERY GRIMM

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I had a conversation with Ellery Grimm, a 16 year-old environmental justice activist from Washington, D.C. We talked about the youth-led movement Zero Hour, getting involved in your own way, and why voting is crucial.

 

Isabel: So, you are the Youth Press Director for the organization, Zero Hour. What is that movement all about and what are your responsibilities within it?

 

Ellery: Zero Hour is an entirely youth-led movement striving to uplift the voices of people on the frontlines of climate change. Our goal is to educate people about environmental justice and advocate for a liveable future.

 

Isabel: What do you think lawmakers need to know about the youth-led fight for environmental rights?

 

Ellery: Everyone deserves to be happy and healthy. If you don’t represent your constituents with that in mind, you will get voted out. They are called elected officials because they’re at the mercy of our vote.

 

Isabel: For sure. I saw your speech at the #StopKavanaugh rally which was amazing. How does being a gender non-binary person in this fight affect your perspective?

 

Ellery: I was already hyper-aware of my vulnerability and I was happy to be given the chance to talk about it. It’s dangerous for gender non-conforming people in this climate. When 50% of homeless youth are LGBT, they are extremely vulnerable to the effects of climate change, the corruption of our country’s law enforcement, and the scarcity of affordable/accessible healthcare. I have no hope that Kavanaugh will change any of those things. He is just another roadblock among many others and should be treated that way.

 

Isabel: What advice do you have for kids who want to get involved in a big issue like climate change but don’t know where to start?

 

Ellery: Nothing bad can come from saying “I want to get involved.” Reaching out to your friends or family and saying “let’s do something about this” is not weird. They are probably thinking the same thing! Going to one big protest a year is not enough. Volunteer, vote, or start a club at your school. My advice is start something new and original. Don’t follow the crowd.

 

Isabel: Absolutely. Are there any activism projects you are currently working on that you want to shout-out?

 

Ellery: At the moment Zero Hour is in between campaigns. We released #Vote4OurFuture at the end of September. Right now, we are planning a couple different things that I am really excited for!

 

Isabel: I’m asking everybody this: As you know, mid-term elections are coming up November 6th. In your opinion, why is it important to get out and vote?

 

Ellery: It’s quite common for the people against voting to come out of the woodwork around November. I see their hopelessness and I understand it. I am tired of losing and absolutely hate it. However, 49.9% of eligible voters didn’t vote in 2016. That makes me feel more hopeless than anything. We talk the talk about making change, but when it comes time to take action, the polls are empty. Voting is when we can tell the government what we want to see happen in this country and we know they will listen because they have to. It is extremely powerful.

@fellerygrimm