Sitting at the table of decisions, I listened to the
conversation of implementing the Menominee community food system and the “One
World Youth Project” hub between my fellow economic advisers. The issue of
funding, acreage, and labor were the biggest problems of the community food
system. The One World Youth Project hub was traveling through the bureaucracy
where good ideas go to die. I felt a year of advocacy to the Menominee Tribal
Legislature, the Menominee Indian Economic Development Board, showing my Brower
Youth Award video with⁞ the help of friends on the inside to Obama
Administration officials, and the Embassy of Kurdistan had sealed the deal to
secure food sovereignty and begin building international relations for the
Menominee Nation, but I was wrong.
The launch of “Let’s Move in Indian Country”
on May 25, 2011 on the Menominee Indian Reservation inspired Menominee youth to
become leaders of the nation in nutrition and eating healthy. I sat in the
audience and felt proud to know I played a part in bringing national attention
to the work of the Menominee Nation. At the same time, Menominee’s broke ground
on the pilot acre devoted to the community garden. Two months later, the
Menominee Indian Economic Development Board and I broke ground for the new full
service grocery. After nine years of being a “food desert” as defined by the
United States Department of Agriculture, Menominee Reservation became one step
closer to being food secure.
Youth Project was an idea Jess Rimington and I collaborated on to open the door
for Menominee Reservation to house a educational hub to create 21st
century empowered globalized citizens. Two Brower Youth Awardees changing the
established order of the Menominee Reservation is no easy undertaking. Change
never happens on the Menominee Reservation quickly I’ve had to suck up in order
for acceptance of the fact. The effects of United States Federal Indian Policy
plague tribal governments throughout the United States and good ideas always
die within the bureaucracy. Jess and I decided to continue the fight for a One
World Youth Project hub on the Menominee Reservation. We hope to secure one in
the next five years.
grocery store and the launch of “Let’s Move in Indian Country” made me proud of
the work on the Menominee Reservation, I remembered the leadership teaching of
step up, step back. The youngest Menominee to serve on a governing body,
overseeing economic development for the tribe is a dream come true. A dream
though, not ready to become a reality. My yearlong experience as an economic
development adviser was eye opening. I found out my knowledge gained over the
years could only help me so far. I needed to continue my education and the path
of humility in order to become the true leader I’m destined to be.
resigning from my economic development adviser post, I traveled to Santa Fe,
New Mexico to accept an Americorp position at Earth Care International in
collaboration with the Santa Fe Food Policy Council. My objective to learn all
I can about the community food system in Santa Fe as well as the food system in
New Mexico. Working with the Santa Fe Food Policy Council and the New Mexico
Food and Agricultural Policy Council has allowed me to observe how food policy
councils work; And what not works.
International is an amazing place to work. The Food Cadre program, the one I am
a part of, works to systematically change the food system in Santa Fe. We are a
15-member group with nine members in the schools teaching nutrition and
sustainability. The last six members are placed in city, county, and local
non-profit organization positions affecting change throughout the community. I
work on food policy and outreach in the community. Beginning this spring, I
will be launching a local food awareness campaign to inspire community
residents to grow food for the community of Santa Fe.
Menominee Reservation is always the hardest thing for me to do. I love my
people and dedicated to the preservation of our language and culture that is
intertwined to the natural old growth forest we protect. Santa Fe has been a
holistic educational experience for me personally. I am learning how to build a
successful community food system, writing the culturally based curriculum
Menominee schools need, and healing myself from years of activism; one of the
toughest jobs in the world.
I met up with a friend and old co-worker from the Menominee Reservation. We
talked about life and our work. “Marcus, the grocery store you helped build has
been a blessing to our community and the reservation have been talking nonstop
about green economies,” my friend and old co-worker said. “The students at
Tribal School have been asking about you and when you will come back to teach
happiness and inspiration filled by body as tears fell from my face. “Tell the
students, the Muffin Man will return to educate and help build the green
economy with his fellow Menominee’s one day,” I answered. “For now I need to
continue my education, learn hands on how to build a community food system, and
travel to China to build international relations.”
My path has
been set for others to follow in my footsteps. My hope is for young people I
meet in communities I live in and on the Menominee Reservation become
environmental activists earning Brower Youth Awards, finding solutions to the
world’s problems through education, and committing acts of civil disobedience.
Recently, the Wisconsin Governor, Scott Walker, and the Republican Legislature
have pushed a mining bill to mine iron ore in Northern Wisconsin just above the
Menominee Reservation. I pray and hope everyday they do not mine for Northern
Wisconsin holds the Great Lakes Aquifer and key to fresh, clean waters for the
allow this to happen and if the day comes some entity tries to mine in Northern
Wisconsin, I will be there at the forefront using every creative non-violent
weapon, upholding the environmental activism David Brower instilled in the
minds of future generations.
January 31, 2012 For Immediate Release For Media Requests Contact: Kyle Thiermann firstname.lastname@example.org 831-334-7060 (cell) Film available on surfingforchange.com
“Surfing for Change: J Bay Nuclear Plant” is a new short film exploring the dangers of a planned nuclear power plant in the pristine shores of Jeffrey’s Bay, South Africa. Made by youth environmental activist, pro-surfer and filmmaker Kyle Thiermann, the film calls attention to the potential for environmental disaster if Eskom, South Africa’s national power company, locates the nuclear plant in the waters of one of the most famous surfing destinations in the world.
Featuring interviews with renowned environmental leader Van Jones, 11-time Surfing World champion Kelly Slater, documentarian Foster Gamble and local surfing activists, the film calls attention to the inherent dangers of nuclear power in the wake of the March 2011 Fukushima Daiichi disaster — the largest nuclear failure since the 1986 Chernobyl meltdown.
Underscoring deep concerns about what’s at stake, the film also offers a personal perspective from Takayuki Wakita, a Japanese surfer whose family lived 100 kilometers from the meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear power plant and now resides in J Bay.
“Surfing for Change: J-Bay Nuclear Plant” available for free through viral web outlets like YouTube, challenges young people to take action and use social media channels to support global opposition to the power plant, encourage exploration of alternative energy sources and points to decisions made by leading European countries to abandon nuclear power plants —Germany will end its nuclear power plant usage in ten years.
Thiermann hopes the film will aid the efforts of local residents who are fighting against a billion dollar initiative that promises employment opportunities in the short term; but risks future environmental catastrophe. “I met amazing people working to stop the plant from being built,” he said. “If it is built, the landscape would be transformed with the building of a power plant. And, the lives of these residents will also be transformed. And not for the good.”
“Surfing for Change” film series shows people who don’t consider themselves activists how to adjust simple daily actions to strengthen their local communities and protect the environment. His film Claim Your Change detailed how money kept in multinational banks is used to finance destructive projects worldwide. It inspired people to move hundreds of million of dollars of lending power into local banks and credit unions. Since then, he has made movies ranging from the importance of shopping locally to following a plastic bag to Hawaii. Kyle has surfed his way across Indonesia, Chile, Peru, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Mexico, Sri Lanka, Australia, Hawaii and throughout the US. For more information visit surfingforchange.com.
Posted by Carra Beth Cheslin on January 30th, 2012 MobilizeU
university students have consistently been at the forefront of the
environmental movement, rallying and taking a stand for our planet. 2012 will
be a critical year for the environment; as our climate and natural environment
are rapidly changing, a host of major national elections occur, and the
prominent Rio+20 Summit on Sustainable Development takes the world stage. Thus
the time is now for universities to again lead the way in creating environmental
As part of Earth Day Network’s
global effort to Mobilize The Earth™, Earth Day University is activating
college students to join the MobilizeU movement and enable their campus
environmental initiatives to have a greater impact than ever before.
MobilizeU is an international competition between
colleges and universities that calls upon students to mobilize their
campus communities around four weeks of environmental activism surrounding
Earth Day 2012 (March 29 - April 29).
Over the month-long competition, students will organize activities such as
campus clean-ups, new voter registration drives and Earth Day events, as well
as amplify environmental initiatives they are already working on at their
Each of these
activities will be broken down into a calculable number of “acts of green” – actions
that either educate someone about the environment or reduce an individual’s
carbon footprint. During each week of the competition, School Coordinators from
each participating university will report the number of acts of green they generated
and post a creative photo or video documenting their efforts to the MobilizeU Facebook hub. A central
objective of MobilizeU is to build an international movement of student
environmental activists. Thus, student Regional Coordinators will be working to
initiate an exchange of ideas as well as a sense of community between students
across the world.
Every act of
green generated during MobilizeU will contribute to Earth Day Network’s global A Billion Acts of Green®
initiative which will be presented to world leaders at the Rio+20 Summit on
Sustainable Development this June. Thus, MobilizeU provides a platform for
college students to amplify their environmental initiatives on an international
level have a significant influence on global environmental change.
Posted by New Leaders Initiative on January 17th, 2012
Intern With New Leaders Initiative!
The New Leaders Initiative is seeking 2012 interns! As an intern with New Leaders Initiative, you’ll be involved in the exciting process of elevating bold, emerging, young leaders in the environmental movement through the Brower Youth Award as well as our various year-round programs. You will be exposed to some of the leading grassroots and national youth-led efforts and have the opportunity to learn the ins-and-outs of working in an environmental non-profit. A typical day could consist of working in our office, conducting outreach on the phone and email, performing various research tasks, helping to organize an educational event, or promoting our work through various social media outlets. There may also be occasional visits to schools, organizations and to youth and environmental events around the Bay Area. Intern tasks vary seasonally according to our application and program cycle and they can be categorized into these broad areas:
Outreach & Communications
Application Recruitment & Processing
Event Planning - Media Outreach and Promotion
Event Planning - Soliciting for In-Kind Donations and Program Partners
• Recruitment: Assist our team in reaching out to a wide spectrum of schools, organizations and youth activists encouraging them to apply for our programs.
• Event Planning: Assist in creating dynamic events throughout the year as well as create a high-energy week of activities for Brower Youth Award recipients in October.
• Research & Archive: Aggregate information about potential partners, collaborators and archive organizations and individuals the program has been involved with in the past.
• Local Outreach: Telephone and e-mail outreach to grassroots groups, tabling at local events, short speaking engagements with campus and community groups.
• Fundraising: Research and contact potential foundations, corporations and in-kind sponsors.
You may also be asked to support other areas of the organization if help is needed.
Interns should commit 12-30 hours weekly. Internships will last 3-4 months in the spring and fall, and 2-3 months in the summer.
The intern must be comfortable and confident with public contact in person and over the phone. Resourcefulness and the ability and desire to take initiative and follow through projects until completion is essential. The intern must also be able to articulate needs to the rest of the New Leaders Initiative team. Familiarity with Word, Excel, e-mail and Google docs is necessary. Graphic design skills familiarity is a plus! And of course, a strong interest in youth environmental activism is key.
You will be interacting with some of our nation’s most dynamic young activists. Hone your people skills, organizing tools, web skills and get your feet wet with one of the best youth environmental organizations out there! In addition, we’re located in the David Brower Center- a hub of amazing and diverse environmental and social change organizations. Our office atmosphere is friendly, warm and relaxed!
Our internships are unpaid, but a transportation stipend may be available.
Send resume and brief letter of interest to Program Director, Anisha Desai at email@example.com. No calls please. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis.
Social agitation in reaction to injustice
is an age-old phenomenon, and more recent activist movements have ranged
from the so-called slavery abolitionists of the early 19th century to
the African-American civil rights movement in the 1950s. According to
Sharon J. Smith, ‘climate justice is really the defining issue of our
generation’ and the modern day environmentalism movement is the focus of
her book, The Young Activist’s Guide to Building a Green Movement and Changing the World.
The book acts as an eco campaigners almanac, a go-to guide for people
interested in making a positive difference to the environment. The
clever use of successful activist’s personal accounts and the
overwhelming enthusiasm with which it is imbued mean that Building a
Green Movement is more than just a guidebook.
Smith found inspiration for the book from her role as the program
advisor of Earth Island Institute’s Brower Youth Awards, which honours
some of the most successful environmental leaders in North America under
the age of 23. The book collates the remarkable stories of the winners
of this award and effectively uses them to construct a template to being
a green activist.
The book is divided into sections that should be on the agenda of all
budding eco activists, and include creating everything from an action
plan for your environmental initiative to garnering support and
followers, and gaining funding. Smith is methodical in her approach to
writing and each of her own tips and pointers tend to be backed up with a
‘success story’ of how they have been implemented by individuals in
The informal writing style used ensures that the book is very
accessible (and it is easy to glean the necessary information from it
quickly). At the close of each section the reader is presented with a
list of relevant resources such as research groups and networks to get
The book begins by impressing upon the reader the
imperative for change. One of the reasons cited to enact such change is
the stark fact that the current extinction rate of natural species is
more than ‘a thousand times higher than the natural rate’ but at no
point are the scare mongering tactics used by some environmentalists of
old employed in this work.
Instead, Smith takes a refreshingly different approach and focuses on
positive potential the youth of today posses to enact change. Clearly
Smith doesn’t believe overwhelming the reader with worst-case climate
change scenarios is the best way of getting an environmentalist’s
message to resonate with people, young or old, and I would
Ultimately, young people are the real
stars of this book and there is a wealth of young visionaries’ stories-
some of whom began their projects from as young as 9 years old! The
author cites that her inspiration comes from ‘the witnessing [of]
storytelling by individuals and groups who are courageously working on
these issues’. One of the most impressive is that of Alex Lin, an eleven
year old who became concerned with the growing amounts of discarded
electrical equipment or ‘e-waste’.
Not only did Alex set up a partnership with a recycling company to
install a permanent receptacle for e-waste in his hometown of Rhode
Island, but he also drafted a sample resolution to ban the dumping of
e-waste and lobbied the state legislators to adopt it. Through
determination and perseverance, Alex and his team proved instrumental in
making Rhode Island the fourth state in the US to adopt a bill
requiring the proper disposal of e-waste in 2006, achieving all of this
by the age of thirteen.
Stories such as this serve to prove that it’s not just the
multi-national companies and corporate lobbyists who have the power to
The all important inspiration can also be drawn from
activists from movements outside of the environmental realm and Smith
refers to the stand taken by Rosa Parks by refusing to obey the order of
a bus driver and how it ‘helped to incite the civil rights movement to
These stories of frustration and injustice can be a source of
motivation and Smith is acutely aware of the need for leaders in the
quest for ‘climate justice’. For those who are not natural born leaders,
and lets be honest few can boast the initiative of shown by young
individuals such as Alex, the book provides a great toolkit to help kick
start their own environmental activism journey.
The wealth of
practical information given in the book provides a roadmap for
burgeoning movements, and it will undoubtedly become an invaluable
resource for activists the world over. But perhaps the most unique
feature of the book is its potential ability to link individuals and
organisations so they can maximise the impact of their campaigns. In the
rousing words of the author ‘you can and you will change the world’.
A child's frustrated wail of “There’s nothing good on TV!” is
heard within households throughout the nation – and between reality TV, violent
crime shows and profane music videos – parents tend to agree.
There is at least one program, however, which the whole
family can enjoy together, and more importantly – young kids can get educated
and inspired. Natural Heroes is a
showcase of people making positive environmental changes in our communities and
our world. Diverse independent filmmakers tell their stories of youth activism,
ocean conservation, environmental justice and many other topics that focus our
attention on the compassion and generosity of these Natural Heroes.
This season, as in seasons gone by, our very own Brower
Youth Award winners are featured as prominent heroes – and rightly so. They
hold their place among a plethora of other inspiring people, all working
towards effecting positive change.
So instead of endlessly channel-surfing or cringing at
inappropriate images – why not tune into Natural Heroes and think about what
you can do to make the world a better place.
Jessica Assaf, Brower Youth Award winner ’06, has been
working tirelessly to raise awareness of the toxic chemicals to which we are
all exposed everyday, without warning. Her triage against cosmetics and other
companies began after discovering, to her surprise, that parabens and other
carcinogenic compounds are prevalently used in common household products. But it
is the lack of proper labeling that infuriates her the most.
"I was furious," Assaf said. "For someone who
considers herself a 'conscious consumer,' I was outraged to realize that we are
unknowingly being exposed to toxic chemicals because cosmetic manufacturers are
not required to conduct safety testing or even disclose all of their
ingredients on product packaging," says Assaf in an interview with Washington
She has taken her battle to the stores and shops who peddle
these toxic products, and has placed bright yellow warning labels on those
inadequately marked items. "I know
what I did is illegal," Assaf said. "But why should I act within the
system if the system is enabling injustices like this to occur? If I really
want to make a difference, I have to put my best interests aside and think
about the bigger picture."
Jessica certainly has our collective best interest at heart. We continue
to applaud and support her work. Go Jessica Go!!
Zander Srodes, a 2005 Brower Youth Award winner, spoke at
this year’s Tedx Teen event in New York City. His speech takes us through ‘The
Moment It Found Him’, or in other words – that moment in time when his life
changed forever, and his passion for sea turtles was ignited within him.
From the time he was eleven years old, just a ‘punk kid’
setting off fireworks on the beach, to becoming a published author, this
impressive young man has worked tirelessly to conserve leatherback and other
turtle species from illegal poaching, conserving habitat and more. He has
created and distributed over 250,000 copies of his educational Turtle Talks
Activity Book, which aims to raise awareness of these beautiful and endangered
species. The books, which are distributed in over 20 countries, have won him
acclaim as well as encouragement to continue his work to conserve life in the
He challenges us all to open our eyes, do things that we’ve
never done, and make a change to better the world. We should most certainly
take a page from his book, and step up to his challenge.
On April 1stthrough 3rd, the 4th annual Clinton Global Initiative University conference was held on the UC San Diego campus. The three-day conference started with a networking session in Friday, a full day of panels and plenaries on Saturday and ended with a day of service with the San Diego Food Bank on Sunday. We had a great Brower Youth Award presence this year, with myself and Marcus Grignon in attendance!
Launched by President Bill Clinton in 2007, CGI U is a unique space in that in brings students, young professionals and experts from five focus areas (education, environment and climate change, peace and human rights, poverty alleviation, and public health) together. Attendees make commitments to action that fall within one or more these categories that address challenges in their local community and beyond. President Clinton along with notable experts holds plenaries discussing current issues in these focus areas. Smaller panels are also held to address even more specific and relevant topics from the focus areas. From Haiti’s rebuilding to Fukushima in Japan, President Clinton covered the challenges in desperate need of solutions.
The most important space for these solutions are in the conversations that happen in between panels and plenaries. Attendees exchange their commitments and share the challenges they face in their work and studies. During these exchanges, they realize how their commitments transcend one focus area and their solutions become more robust when they blend their knowledge with those of their peers. It is a truly energizing place to be.
The innovative results incubated at CGI U become apparent by the young panelists who were once attendees come back to discuss their work. Priscilla Lee for example, a past CGI U attendee, is the founder of White Tops, a non-profit organization that seeks to decrease the effects of Urban Heat Island by advocating white roofs or "Cool Roofs" in New York City. Combining her knowledge in architecture and environmental studies, Priscilla is finding a solution to keeping buildings cool!
And the innovation doesn't stop there! Jessica Matthews is the co-founder of sOccket. Along with Jessica Lin, Julia Silverman, Hemali Thakkar, Jessica created a soccer ball, the sOccket, that captures the energy during game play to charge LEDs and batteries. The ball can connect to a LED lamp to read, study, or illuminate the home.
Our very own 2010 Brower Youth Award winner Marcus Grignon was also an attendee at this year's CGI U. Marcus' commitment of securing a sustainable future for the Menominee Reservation through education and hands-on initiatives was chosen as one of 16 that were includes in a NCAA style tournament brackets
We look forward to hearing about more innovative ideas sparked by this year's conference. Thank you to the organizers, volunteers and attendees of CGI U for an inspiring weekend!
They say the best things in life are free, and the Teacher’s
Domain is proof of this!
The Teacher’s Domain is a digital media service for
educational use from public broadcasting and its partners. One can browse through
thousands of media resources, and support materials. There is also a wide array
of tools for classroom lessons, individualized learning programs, and teacher
professional learning communities available. It is also a great resource for
anyone looking for some educational films for a rainy Sunday afternoon!
Included among the thousands of media resources are our very
own Brower Youth Award winners from a variety of years, and more will be added
in the future – so be sure to check their site regularly for updates.
Resources such as this are important for today’s youth and
those interested in furthering their education, as well as professional
teachers. The Teacher’s Domain seeks to provide education to a wide audience at
no cost – proving that the best things in life are, in fact, free.
Red Alert! New resource for youth leaders on the block!
is a newly-released resource center for its companion, as-of-yet unreleased
Management 101: A Complete and Practical Guide for Leaders and Professionals.
This site is for those of you who aspire towards managing your own non-profit,
and making the changes you envision for a better world come to fruition. We can
all agree that the sooner you start, the better – so this website is a great
resource for youth!
providing easily-implemented solutions, this site provides straightforward, no
nonsense advice, taken from leading practitioners and seasoned experts. Their
advice can be put to immediate use to not only magnify your ability to meet
your mission goals, but also to maximize your impact. The goal is to work
smarter, not harder – a concept we can all get behind!
These tips and
invaluable tidbits of advice are applicable to every cause. Here is a glimpse
of what you’ll find at Nonprofits101.org:
Social Impact, a new blog hosted by Social Edge that that brings you practical suggestions and easy to implement
tips of the week
Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp is a unique and inspiring summer leadership program for youth 12-17 who want to make a difference in the world. A week-long sleep-away program in a beautiful camp setting, YEA campers choose an issue of importance to them (for example, some have chosen climate change, racism, homophobia, immigration, or animal rights) and they build the knowledge, skills, confidence, and community to take action on that issue once they get home. They also build meaningful friendships between youth and adults with similar interests in bettering their community and society. Youth who have participated in our programs report that the camp was one ofthe most fun, memorable and life-changing experiences of their lives, and, with YEA's support, many have gone on to start school clubs, plan fundraisers for nonprofits, organize a call-in to Congress, attend hearings to comment about important community issues, green their school, and much more. Check out our new teaser video<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ifqGX6RYbDk> or other short video<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UeMzDpjZzuM> with more info about camp, and our website www.yeacamp.org<http://www.yeacamp.org/> to learn more about this unique program, as well as to apply.
"This camp has truly changed my life. You have inspired me to do so much with my life and to make the world a truly better place. You have inspired me to believe in myself and to not just say 'I'm just a kid, what can I do?' Because of you, I have been able to actually make a difference." -Bianca, Age 15, camper at YEA Camp 2010
When: Session 1: from July 23-29, 2011 OR Session 2: July 30 - August 5, 2011 Where: Ben Lomond, CA, Santa Cruz Mountains OR When: August 7-14, 2011 Where: Corbett, OR just outside Portland $925; some scholarships may be available
Applications are now open for the Summer of Solutions, a summer learning and job training program for young people ages 14-30 that creates self-sustaining green economy projects that have a direct impact on their communities. Each of their 15 Summer of Solutions programs located across the country are pioneering innovative projects in areas such as urban farming and green manufacturing. Find a program you want to attend here.
Their goal is to empower young people to work together using their vision and skills to create solutions that meet their community's needs. The Summer of Solutions is run by youth, for youth, creating a supportive, shared learning environment. Every program has a different timeline, but generally runs 8-10 weeks through June, July, and August. The program is free and they provide need-based support for participants who need additional financial support for their participation.
They are currently seeking youth to be a part of this year's pograms.If you are creative, dedicated and believe in improving your community, advancing social justice, and helping the environment - then your application would be most welcome! They are looking for both volunteer participants (up to 20 hours a week) and full-time participants (40+ hours a week), who can receive stipends as needed. The application for need-based financial support is here. They welcome all participants ages 14-30 regardless of race, culture, class, gender, sexual orientation, religion. Apply to a program today! The final deadline for full-time applicants is Sunday April 24th at midnight PST. Volunteer applications are accepted on a rolling basis.You can also apply to any of the 15 programs at that link. If you need a paper application, or the link isn't working for you, please email Matt (firstname.lastname@example.org).
“The Young Activists Guide to Building a Green Movement and
Changing the World” lives up to its promise of being an informative and useful
tool for young people who wish to make the world a better place. Compiled from
the victories and experiences from successful activists, this guide provides
invaluable advice to enable the next generation of youth leaders to effect
change like never before.
From planning a campaign and recruiting supporters to
raising capital and getting noticed by media institutions, this book provides practical
step-by-step guidance for emerging activists. Coupled with inspiring success
stories from past emerging leaders, this book shows young people that goals
which may seem lofty and unachievable are indeed within reach.
Channeling the passion of youth activists is one of the most
important tasks of our time, something which author Sharon Smith knows all
about. A program advisor for Earth Island Institute’s Brower Youth Awards, she
has assisted hundreds of youth in achieving their goals and reaching their full
potential. She has worked with youth and student networks in the areas of
global justice, peace and environmental movements. Having graduated from
University of California, Berkeley, and currently completing a masters degree at
Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, she is a role model as well
as an inspiration for young people everywhere.
Order your copy today from Earth Island. All proceeds go directly towards supporting the New Leaders Initiative and our annual Brower Youth Awards:
When working on changing the world, it is important to think
broadly. Alec Loorz certainly does this, with his wise proclamations that
we must change the way we think, as opposed to those minor ‘band-aid’ solutions
which are so common these days. It is for this reason that his upcoming iMatter
March is creating such a stir.
Alec won a Brower Youth Award at the tender age of 15,
proving to himself and the world that young people are, in fact, a force to be
reckoned with. Since that time, he has been working tirelessly to change the
very attitudes which fuel our destructive and wasteful lifestyles. His crusade
against climate change is taking him to new heights as he organizes the Mothers
Day 2011 iMatter March, which will bring together youth from around the world
in a united stance against our society's addiction to fossil fuels.
These global marches will be organized by ordinary youth from all walks of life,
and he needs as many young leaders as possible to truly make an impact and
stand up for the future generations. On his website, http://imattermarch.org/, he extends the
opportunity to become a march organizer and participate in what is sure to be an inspiring event.
The iMatter March demands that we begin to live sustainably;
with over a million youth taking to the streets – the ruling generation will
get the message that the future does, in fact, matter.
The California Film Institute recognizes the educational
value of films, and strives to inspire young people ages 12-18 through the
annual Environmental Youth Forum. This event, on February 17, 2011, will be
informative, entertaining, and will also feature Brower Youth Award 2009 winner
Shivakumar as a keynote speaker.
The forum’s focus this year is ‘the commons’, or the elements in society
that we all share and that we are compelled to care for – such as water and air
quality, sea and land ecosystems, and so on – which is something Adarsha knows
all about. He was recognized by the New Leaders Initiative after co-founding
Project Jatropha, an organization dedicated to promoting the Jatropha curas
plant as an ecologically friendly and economically profitable crop among the
farmers of rural India. His ingenuity, coupled with his deep understanding of
the ways in which the economy and environment interact, lead him to his
solution which has helped local farmers as well as to mitigate climate change
in an impressive win-win situation that policy-makers the world over could
learn from and duplicate.
A passionate and driven individual, it is no wonder that the California
Film Institute has requested his impressive presence in an attempt to inspire
and motivate other youth to effect change of their own. Don’t miss this great
opportunity to see Adarsha in the flesh, speaking to causes close to his heart.
Varhsa with a small frog in the Ecuadorian rainforest
Besides having a full-time job at Duke University doing
ecological research, Varsha Vijay has a lot on the go. Her work with the
Waorani tribe in Ecuador landed her a 2010 Brower Youth Award, and since that
time she has been working nonstop to ensure equitable treatment of that tribe,
the Ecuadorian Amazon rainforest and marginalized people the world over.
surprisingly, Varsha is in demand these days. She has been invited to assist in the creation of a pilot television show for a
new series designed to highlight the work of young people engaged in the environmental
field. With this experience under her belt, Varsha hopes to one day produce
an informative documentary of her own.
As she has
long been an advocate for equal access to information, one of her
aspirations is to develop an online database which facilitates easy sharing of and
open access to scientific and other information. In doing this, Varsha hopes to
empower people and give them the tools they require to engage in conservation
work, or to protect and defend themselves and their environment as is
Varsha is certainly
no stranger in assisting those in need of defense. Recently, she has been in
contact with members of the infamous Chevron Toxico social justice
campaign, a landmark class action lawsuit whose plaintiffs are seeking damages
based on Chevron’s deplorable treatment of the Ecuadorian Amazon. For
nearly four decades, the oil giant indescriminately polluted the rainforest environment, dumping billions of
gallons of toxic waste which continues to plague the
health and well-being of the local population. With her access to academia, proven Ecuadorian knowledge, and collected data from her mapping projects
– Varsha has much to contribute to this most worthy cause. If the plaintiffs win
the case and are awarded the damages they seek, a precedence will be
established that will go a long way toward holding corporations fully
responsible for their activities.
have a lot on the go, but when your business is trying to make the world a better place, there is little time to spare.
Her approach to work is diligent, and her unwavering passion for the
environment and tribal populations has produced remarkable results. We at the
New Leaders’ Initiative wish her the very best in all of her endeavors, and we know she is destined to accomplish many great things.
For more information on the Chevron Toxico class action lawsuit, visit their website: chevrontoxico.com
Kyle Thiermann hasbeen hard at work. After completing
his successful “Claim your Change,” campaign, which earned him an Honorable
Mention in 2010’s Brower Youth Awards, he has been discovering other ways to
get his important message across.
His most recent project, “Buy Local, Surf Global”, brought
him to Sri Lanka, one of the largest textile exporters on the planet. Historically,
the working conditions in many Sri Lankan factories (or, as they are commonly
known, ‘sweatshops’) have garnered international attention as being notoriously
unpleasant and inequitable. They work long hours in often unsafe conditions, in
return for meager compensation which barely enables them or their families to
survive. Kyle wanted to highlight the importance of shopping in a socially
conscious way through showcasing the conditions within these sweatshops, the
message being that, in some cases, purchasing from big box stores and global
distributors directly supports the exploitation of Sri Lankans.
However, much to his surprise, things have changed. Upon
visiting one factory, he found the employees increasingly upbeat and the
conditions improved, thanks to consumer pressure the world over. “The conditions are better
because (the Sri Lankans) are now being paid living wages and this is just because
of pressure from consumers in America,” he tells Surfer Magazine. “Through our
purchasing decisions, we are saying to the companies that we want to buy our
T-shirts from a company that’s going to be paying their workers a living wage.”
experience has, for Kyle and now countless others, served to further cement the
idea that small actions can have big consequences. From simple things like
informing a store owner that you wish to purchase locally-sourced products and
voting with your dollar everyday; to being a full-time activist all contribute
in meaningful ways. Kyle’s “Buy Local, Surf Global” project teaches us all that
even the smallest actions count, and that we can achieve anything we put our
Earth Island has teamed up with Ashoka’s Youth Venture to
create JUST FOOD, a program that will support teams of young people in
establishing their own ‘food justice’ ventures. Sounds great, right? But you
may be asking yourself – what exactly is ‘food justice’, and why is it
The reality is that the food that appears in your local
supermarkets, your fridge and finally your dinner plate is a product of a
highly complex system of relationships, which affects communities and
ecosystems alike. Unfortunately, some people have more access to food than
others; sometimes, the food that is available is not the healthiest; and the
way in which food is cultivated can be very damaging to the planet. The idea of
JUST FOOD is to get young people to identify a food injustice which affects them or their community, and work towards
There are innumerable different approaches that can be taken
in solving instances of food injustice. The task of JUST FOOD is to give youth
the tools they need to create and implement viable social venture initiatives - which are things like businesses,
non-profits or clubs – related to food justice issues. Through providing a
rigorous 10 session curriculum, feedback from community stakeholders and access
to seed funding, Just Food will help youth to develop clear goals, viable
plans, and earned-income strategies within their initiative in order to support
the on-going success of their work.
Sustainability is the key word here – not only for communities
and the planet, but also in helping youth create social venture initiatives which
not only make a difference, but are also equipped with principles of longevity
to ensure their continued success.
Here is your chance to get involved: currently JUST FOOD is
searching for a Meal Coordinator to provide healthy, creative meals for each of
the curriculum sessions. If you have what it takes, check out this link and
apply today! http://www.idealist.org/view/volop/CkJBDh7GChSP/
Posted by Robyn Gee, Youth Radio on October 5th, 2010
Marcus created a program called “Greening the Schools: Honoring
Our Traditions” to boost ecological consciousness in his Native American
nation. The program — which is part of Marcus’ larger non-profit,
Citizens for a Sustainable Future — is boosting environmental education
on the Menominee Reservation and gives students a chance to graduate
from high school with a certificate in environmental stewardship. Marcus
is also working on converting Menominee Tribal buses and vans to fuel
cells power and educating eighth graders about renewable energy and
When I was 18, in my first year of
college, I took two classes that really sparked my activism. One of
them was Federal Environmental Policy, and the other was Intro to
Sustainable Development. This class opened my mind to things going on in
the world. In Uganda, Indonesia, China - all of the environmental
problems going on. This class highlighted the grassroots efforts in
Wisconsin that affected my reservation.
In the 1990’s, Exxon
Mobile wanted to mine in Wisconsin. The mining project would have
destroyed the Wolf River, and in turn, my reservation. The Menominee
feel that the Wolf River is like a vein - if it dies, so will the land.
Lots of tribes came together along with faith-based organizations and
we stood up to Exxon. My idea for my non-profit was born. In order to
help the indigenous peoples of the world, we have to push forward an
environmental consciousness. We are all about caring for the land and
living in harmony.
I started my campaign, “Greening Our Schools”
to build young activists. We can change the world. When I started my
non-profit at age 19, I didn’t know much. I had all of my family and
friends on the board, and they weren’t sure what to do. Then I spent a
semester at George Washington University, in Washington D. C. and
learned how to form a good board. Now I have experts on my board,
including members of my tribe with enough influence to make change
I majored in Tribal Legal Studies and Sustainable
Development. I can practice law in tribal courts as a lawyer, but not
outside the reservation. As part of the “Greening Our Schools”
campaign, I taught a class last spring on fuel cell technology to eighth
graders. The first day I taught them about the process, and the second
day we built fuel cell-powered cars and raced them. I saw the light
bulbs go off in their heads, and I told them, ‘You have to build this
stuff! Then I taught a class on social entrepreneurship. I told students
even though you get paid, you give some of the money back to your
community or to a cause. We sold trees as a class and then we had a
pizza party. I taught them about some of my ideas, like building
solar-powered bikes. I recently just came back from a 140-mile bike trip
on my electric battery-powered bike.
I hope to spread the
philosophy of the non-profit throughout the world. We are adding legal
services so that we can help groups like the Ugani people in the Niger
Delta, fighting the Shell oil company. I’m looking forward to meeting
people at the Brower awards.
On the streets of Oakland, CA, a "Scraper" is universally understood to be a late 1980's, early '90's General Motors (often a Buick or Oldsmobile) that has been transformed into a flashy ride by shiny 22 inch rims and a candy-colored paint job. To many, the cars provide unparalleled street credibility. But for youth like Tyrone Stevenson, and many others in the economically depressed neighborhoods of East Oakland, the costs of such prized commodities, compounded by soaring gas prices, are often far-fetched. For Stevenson, perhaps better known today as "Baby Champ" or "The Scraper Bike King," such barriers simply inspired his imagination and entrepreneurship to create something new. With an appetite for fixing up bicycles and a keen eye for aesthetics, Stevenson began creating "Scraper Bikes" by translating the flamboyant styles of the colorful cars on to two-wheelers. With a rap video on YouTube that has drawn over 3 million views and a cult following that extends from the Bay Area to Japan and Australia, it's safe to say that the idea has caught on.
While Stevenson's innovation may not have began as a social or environmental venture, it's not hard to see that the implications of Scraper Bikes' popularity extend far beyond their eye-catching designs. With a high school drop out rate of over 50%, far too many young people in Oakland fall through the cracks of a failed system into the dangerous waters of crime and drug abuse. With scarce recreational outlets, many turn to violent gangs for guidance, but as Stevenson's popularity has grown, so too has his following of youngsters who now choose fixing up and decorating bikes over stealing cars and selling drugs. As the "King" says, "Scraper bikes are definitely saving a lot of these kids' lives."
The environmental and public health benefits of choosing bicycles over automobiles are, of course, clear as well. With climate change accelerating and obesity rates soaring, the need for alternative modes of transportation and physical activity has never been greater. As he explains with a wild-eyed grin, Stevenson dreams of one day opening a community center in East Oakland that would provide a safe and positive place for young people to connect and work on their bikes.
Just last week, the City of Oakland Office of Parks & Recreation hosted a summer day camp devoted to Scraper Bikes and bicycle safety, and on August 28th, they will again collaborate with Stevenson for the first-ever Back-To-School Scraper Bike Ride and Festival. Thanks to the ingenuity of Stevenson and the Scraper Bike Movement, we all have reason to celebrate.
Watch below for a beautiful short film about the Original Scraper Bike Team:
Scrapertown from California is a place.
"On August 14, Get Fresh, in collaboration with Youth Movement Records, Livity Clothing, Global Exchange, Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Oakland Green Youth Media Arts Center and others, presents the 2010 FreshFrest, a solar-powered eco-music festival which makes its East Bay debut in Oakland’s Mosswood Park. This event is somewhat of a Green Festival for urban residents, and is expected to draw more than 500 participants of all ages. The FreshFest integrates eco-awareness and eco-education with entertainment, making learning about green practices, programs, and careers fun, while promoting sustainability through recycled materials, biodegradable foodware, and organic food. The event will feature a farmers market with locally-gown organic produce, hands-on demonstrations, a Hip-Hop Competition, a Hip-Hop Concert, and the Youth Champion Awards, honoring three outstanding young people—one from each city in the Toxic Triangle—who are taking action to address environmental issues in their communities."
It’s been a tough year: in North America, oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico; in Asia some of the highest temperatures ever recorded; in the Arctic, the fastest melting of sea ice ever seen; in Latin America, record rainfalls washing away whole mountainsides.
So we’re having a party.
Circle 10/10/10 on your calendar. That’s the date. The place is wherever you live. And the point is to do something that will help deal with global warming in your city or community.
We’re calling it a Global Work Party, with emphasis on both 'work' and 'party'. In Auckland, New Zealand, they’re having a giant bike fix-up day, to get every bicycle in the city back on the road. In the Maldives, they’re putting up solar panels on the President’s office. In Kampala, Uganda, they're going to plant thousands of trees, and in Bolivia they’re installing solar stoves for a massive carbon neutral picnic.
Since we've already worked hard to call, email, petition, and protest to get politicians to move, and they haven't moved fast enough, now it's time to show that we really do have the tools we need to get serious about the climate crisis.
On 10/10/10 we'll show that we the people can do this--but we need bold energy policies from our political leaders to do it on a scale that truly matters. The goal of the day is not to solve the climate crisis one project at a time, but to send a pointed political message: if we can get to work, you can get to work too--on the legislation and the treaties that will make all our work easier in the long run.
And don’t worry about being alone at this party: there are already 1077 groups in 109 countries around the world scheduled to do something great that day. We'll knit all these groups together with a powerful mosaic of photos, videos, and stories from around the world. You wouldn’t want to miss it.
It’s been a tough year—but it can be a beautiful day on the 10th Of October if we work together, and party together. And if we do it right, then we’ll take a big step towards the kind of political solutions we desperately need.
Bill McKibben and the 350.org team
P.S.—If you feel a little shy, or wonder if you can really make a party work, check out these pictures from last year’s Global Day of Action. There were 5200 demonstrations in 181 countries, which means an awful lot of folks like you figured out how to get it done!
In this day and age, when someone mentions "sustainability" and "food" in the same breath, you can probably take a guess at the slew of go-to keywords that might come next: organic, natural, local, fair-trade, free-range, grass-fed, shade-grown, and so on. With environmentalists and foodies - and yes, even big corporations, which have jumped on the profitable bandwagon - promoting these greener ways of eating, such terms have become largely commonplace in the vocabulary of many American consumers.
But, here's one, albeit more of a system than an attribute, that may not sounds quite as familiar: permaculture. From the basic construction of the word itself, you can begin to tease out its meaning - permanent agriculture, or permanent culture. While it can be interpreted in many ways, Penny Livingston, co-founder of the Regenerative Design Institute in Bolinas, CA, likes to put it this way: Permaculture is a designed science, rooted in observations of natural systems, to learn how to live with the stability and resiliency of a natural ecosystem... Not bad, huh?
The next installment of the inspiring "Earth Island Presents..." series will be hosted this month by the New Leaders Initiative! The event will feature leading environmental activists and past Brower Youth Award winners discussing today's most important ecological issues and the importance of youth engagement.
This will be a very thought-provoking and stimulating event with these innovative activists who are tackling the most critical ecological and human crises that we all must face – you’ll be inspired to take action! The evening will also include information tables in the Hazel Wolf Gallery featuring the Bay Area’s most dynamic environmental and social justice organizations who are engaging a new generation of activists.
Join us at the David Brower Center in the heart of Downtown Berkeley on August 19th for a truly memorable evening. Doors open at 6:30 PM. Purchase your tickets today, before they sell out! We look forward to seeing you there!
The Great Power Race is a clean energy competition between students in China, India, and the United States. The aim is to kick-start hundreds of new climate solution projects on campuses and in communities in all three countries and to demonstrate to governments and businesses our generation's leadership in transforming our world towards a green economy.
How do we get around? What impacts do our transportation systems have on the health of the planet, people, and economy? Over the past half-century, American development has largely embraced suburban sprawl, thereby making the personal automobile a near necessity. While other countries across Europe and Asia have charged full-speed ahead with high-speed rail and sophisticated public transit, America has puttered along, stuck idle in traffic.
The result? As President Obama said in his first Oval Office Address in June: "The consequences of our inaction are now in plain sight. Countries like China are investing in clean energy jobs and industries that should be right here in America. Each day, we send nearly $1 billion of our wealth to foreign countries for their oil. And today, as we look to the Gulf, we see an entire way of life being threatened by a menacing cloud of black crude."
For Daniel Jacobson, a Stanford undergrad and Richmond, CA native, the problems were clear enough - especially in nearby Oakland, where public health and the economy are stifled by a lack of transit and mobility. "I just wondered, what could Oakland do to turn things around?" Jacobson said. "What kind of project could Oakland have that would create economic development, that would reduce oil consumption, that would breathe new life into the city?" Over nine months, Jacobson compiled a 140-page report that addresses the feasibility and impact of a 2.5-mile streetcar line running through downtown. By Jacobson's estimates, the streetcar would spur the local economy by bringing in up to 24,000 new jobs, while decreasing the city's carbon footprint by up to 114,000 tons of CO2 annually. To many, the streetcar seems like the perfect way to get Oakland back on track and moving forward.
At a recent Tedx Event in Denver, Zakiya Harris, founder of Oakland's Grind for the Green, and Pandora Thomas, from San Francisco's Global Exchange, spoke about their vision for engaging young people of color with the growing environmental movement. Integrating their own experiences as educators and environmentalists, the two Bay Area activists shared their ideas for how to integrate popular culture and new media as a way of informing youth about issues of environmental justice, and how they can take action in their own communities. Watch their inspiring talk below, and be sure to check out Grind for the Green to learn more!
At a time when leadership and innovation are needed more than ever to mitigate our growing environmental crises - a need that has not been taken seriously by many of our elected officials - young people across the globe are not waiting to be "given" power to show that they have the power to affect positive change for the planet and their communities. Through the Brower Youth Awards, the Earth Island Institute has recognized dozens of young environmental leaders over the past decade - but we're not the only ones! Organizations such as Action for Nature offer their own prize for young environmental leaders, the International Eco-Hero Awards, which has worked since 2003 to "honor the work of young people between the ages of 8 and 16 who have done creative environmental projects."
Check out the 2010 Eco-Heroes to be inspired by the work of young individuals from the United States, India, Germany, Ivory Coast, and more!
While there are endless opinions as to what ingredients make up the perfect recipe for a sustainable community, there's at least one component that seems impossible to ignore: food. Healthy food, that is. Yet for the residents of West Oakland, CA, that is precisely what they have been missing for so long. For a community of approximately 30,000 people, there are are over 50 liquor stores and convenience shops, but until recently, no grocery stores. Without a car or easy access to reliable public transportation, the presence of (largely overpriced) health food stores in other parts of town may not actually be as close as they seem. The result has been that West Oakland bears some of the highest percentages in the country for hunger, malnutrition, diabetes, and other chronic health diseases - all of which contribute to greater health care costs and poverty (and so the cycle perpetuates itself). Clearly, it's not a system capable of being sustained for long.
That's why activists in the food justice movement - which seeks to make high-quality, healthy food readily accessible to all people, regardless of race or socioeconomic status - have staked a claim in this community to provide the sustenance that has been so sorely lacking. Organizations such as the People's Grocery and Mandela Foods Co-op are bringing fresh, local, organically-grown produce into West Oakland, and their impact has been felt immediately. Below are two short films highlighting these projects and the people driving their courageous efforts.
After four long years of anticipation and excitement, the World Cup is back again and people from around the globe are buzzing like vuvuzelas with "Fútbol Fever." The confluence of teams and fans from around the globe to celebrate The World's Game is a spectacle in and of itself, and to boot, the social significance of South Africa being the first African host of the games just 16 years after the abolition of apartheid adds a special sentiment and cultural flavor to this year's tournament.
Nevertheless, the sobering truth of the matter is that along with all of the excitement and joy comes the tremendous environmental impact of preparing for and showcasing the games. In order to execute the tournament properly, new stadiums must be built, old ones must be retrofitted, transportation and tourist infrastructure must be expanded, electricity and water use will grow, and air travel will increase exponentially. According to the Center for American Progress, with games being held in South Africa, the additional energy use will largely be supplied by fossil-fuels, the majority of domestic travel will be done by buses and planes (rather than say, high-speed rail), and fans coming in to the country (the majority of whom are North American or European) will have very long air travel. In comparison to the 2006 Cup help in Germany, a country that boasts some of the best renewable energy infrastructure in the world and is more closely situated to Western travelers, the environmental footprint of this year's games is estimated to be at least eight times greater - even when excluding the impact of international travel.
While serious efforts have been made by soccer officials and the South African government to mitigate some of the ecological footprint of the 2010 Cup by implementing greener building practices, and planting thousands of trees to offset carbon emissions - it is clear that tournament organizers and fans can and should be doing a much better job. Many argue that further use of green design and public transportation would do the trick, but the fact of the matter is that for many host countries of the World Cup (and the Olympics, for that matter), the stadiums and tourist-oriented infrastructure are left largely unused once the show has packed up and moved - and so the cycle continues four years later. What many have argued, including Jonathan Hiskes of Grist, is that in order to truly limit the environmental footprint of events like the World Cup or the Olympics, a permanent home must be created with the proper infrastructure to be sustainable. Although the current system of constantly changing the games' host allows for a greater distribution of economic stimulation and cultural attention, it is also a pattern that puts unnecessary strain on our global environment. For now, let us cheer on and appreciate the spotlight that South Africa's evolving society has been given, but as we move forward, it may be time to reconsider how we choose to showcase our world's favorite game.
Below is a video from ESPN explaining the lasting environmental and economic impact of South Africa's World Cup:
Q'Orianka, who won the Brower Youth Awards in 2007 for her commitment to activism and environmentalism, was arrested, along with her mother, for chaining herself to the White House Fence and pouring black paint (representative of oil) on her body. Q'Orianka, whose father is a Peruvian Indian, was protesting President Obama's meeting with Peruvian President Alan García. García's policies leave indigenous people and their land open to exploitation and damaging removal of resources. There has been increased anger in Peru around the issues and Q'Orianka was acting in support. She was forcibly removed and charged with disorderly conduct. Her mother was arrested for defacing government property. The story has been covered on a number of media sites, including ABC news and the Huffington post. She was also interviewed on Democracy Now shortly after.
Listed among such big names as America Ferrera, Rafael Nadal, Jessica Alba, Mark Sanchez, and Aventura, Diana Lopez is recognized as a leader and innovator for the country. Diana organizes with the Southwest Workers Union for worker rights, environmental justice and community empowerment in San Antonio, Texas. She has fought to clean up military base contamination, organized for energy policies, and in February 2007, along with community members and fellow organizers, started the Roots of Change community garden. Her community garden, the first of its kind in San Antonio, has inspired her community and led to the creation of another. She continues to inspire those around her and to serve as role model for environmentalists, youth, and Latinos everywhere.
Visit http://www.hispaniconline.com/HispanicMag/2010_02-03/Features-Idols.htm to read the full article.
Robin Bryan stands amid the boreal forests he is fighting to protect
Both Robin Bryan and Alec Loorz were BYA winners in 2009. They have recently been selected as finalists for the Do Something awards.
Growing up without electricity or running water in rural Canada, Robin spent the majority of his childhood in the forests of Manitoba. As the world's largest single land storehouse of carbon and most abundant source of fresh water, the boreal forest of the East Shore Wilderness Area of Manitoba is critical to protect. Robin led the way in a landmark campaign that effectively banned logging in the four of Manitoba’s five provincial parks, protecting one million acres of forest.
When Alec first saw “Inconvenient Truth” at age 12, he was moved. So he applied to be one of Al Gore’s presenters, but was rejected because of his age. Instead of waiting to “grow up,” Alec created his own thing. In the past 3 years Alec has emerged as one of the most powerful young leaders in the environmental space presenting to over 25,000 people, including the US Senate. He is now working on organizing an international event to activate 1 million youth world-wide to take a stand against climate change.
Here is an excerpt from Jessica's blog, detailing her experiences working with the West African AIDS Foundation:
I left home in San Francisco and arrived in Accra, Ghana on January 10th. I moved into a house in North Labone with fifteen other students and began my new life in Africa. Aside from a weeklong experience with Malaria and frequent internet, water, and power shortages, the transition has been pretty effortless. My time here has definitely been an adjustment from life in New York City and San Francisco, but I have truly enjoyed every minute.
I decided to intern with the West African AIDS Foundation because after working with the AIDS Service Center in New York City last semester, I wanted to gain a global perspective on the issue of HIV/AIDS. When I arrived at the clinic, I learned that there are an estimated 350,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in Ghana, but for every reported case of the virus, there are four unreported cases. Women account for more than half of adults estimated to be living with HIV/AIDS in Ghana. This is especially problematic because the virus is extremely stigmatized here. Because knowledge about how the virus is contracted is not widespread, HIV/AIDS is thought of as a “women’s issue,” only affecting promiscuous women. Many women are forced to engage in unsafe activities with men in exchange for food and shelter. This creates an unequal power dynamic between men and women, preventing the women from requesting the use of contraceptives during intercourse. Men rarely get tested for HIV/AIDS and continue to pass on the virus to women, who are routinely tested when they become pregnant. Therefore, men are unaware of their statuses and stigmatize HIV-positive women.
In addition to interning at the West African AIDS Foundation, I have decided to create a short documentary about HIV/AIDS in Ghana for one of my classes. This film will spread awareness about the virus and educate Ghanaians on the importance of getting tested. In doing so, I hope to change the current perceptions associated with the virus. I have realized that there are strong connections between gender inequalities, poverty, and HIV in Ghana. Women’s disempowerment and their submissive roles in society dictate their susceptibility to the virus. In order to de-stigmatize the virus, I believe Ghanaians need to deconstruct and desexualize society’s gender roles. I want to use the film to covey that HIV does not solely affect a section of society; everyone is equally vulnerable.
One thing that struck me was how many women cannot afford to pay for their monthly HIV medication, which essentially keeps them alive. When I asked the doctor at the West African AIDS Foundation how much the drugs cost, she told me that they are 5 Ghana cedis per month, with is equivalent to about three dollars. The first thing that came to mind was how the cost of these women’s drugs is the same amount of money as my daily cup of coffee in New York City.
I want to start an organization called “One Cup of Coffee.” The goal of the organization is to persuade people in the United States to donate their daily cup of coffee to make a direct impact on a life abroad. In order to empower consumers, I feel it is important for them to understand not only where their donations are ending up, but also what their money is being used for. One Cup of Coffee will allow consumers to fully comprehend how the cost of one single cup of coffee can positively impact someone’s life. I envision the organization hosting booths all across the county in order to convince people to donate their daily cup of coffee. Through meaningful partnerships with local coffee shops, in exchange for their donation, they would receive an empty coffee cup. As a token for their generosity, the cup would provide the donor with one dollar off the following day’s coffee at a particular coffee shop. I could also make partnerships with organic tea companies, and give the donor a bag of tea in exchange for their donation. I also hope to create a website so that people can make their donation online. Each month the donations would go to a different cause, and consumers would always understand what exactly their money is being used for, whether it is a pregnant, impoverished women’s HIV drugs for one month, or a week’s worth of rice, beans, and oil for a poor family. I hope to work on developing this organization over the summer, and if anyone has any advice, I would love to hear it.
On June 19 and 20, Outdoor Nation and Mobilize.org will convene 500 young people from all over the country in New York's Central Park for the Outdoor Nation Youth Summit. There, participants between the ages of 16 and 26 will champion the outdoors as athletes, artists, advocates and ambassadors. They will set the agenda, lead the conversation, and develop action plans to encourage their peers to become stewards of the environment and to promote healthy lifestyles by engaging in outdoor activities. Outdoor Nation will be providing financial assistance to participants traveling to New York.
Held in the world’s media capital and country's most popular urban park, the Outdoor Nation Youth Summit will harness the passion, energy and ideas of a new generation eager to influence the future and to stand up for change. Summit delegates will not only craft and deliver a message of change to the country, but will strengthen the outdoor youth movement by infusing new ideas, skills and connections in a solution-driven environment. Our goal is to motivate and mobilize hundreds of thousands of young people nationwide to reclaim the outdoors for themselves and for future generations and we need your help to spread the word.
HOW TO GET INVOLVED: If you're interested in attending, please complete the application here: http://www.outdoornation.org/summit. Then, share it with your friends and family and encourage them to apply by forwarding this email and posting the information on your social networks like Facebook and Twitter.
You must be between the ages of 16 and 26 to apply to attend and accepted applicants under the age of 16 can attend with an approved chaperone. Travel scholarships are also available, so please apply today and help us spread the word about this wonderful opportunity. We’ll also be recruiting facilitators and volunteers for this historic event, so email Summit@mobilize.org and let us know if you are interested.
"The American Home Front: Creating Change in Our Own Communities" is a feature panel part of this year's Clinton Global Initiative.
The United States is no stranger to inadequate education, limited access to health care, or skyrocketing carbon emissions. Although the economic landscape is vastly different in the U.S. than it is in many developing nations, there are currently 46 million Americans who are uninsured, and 37.3 million who are living in poverty. How can America’s universities channel their capacity for innovation and public service as a force for positive change on the domestic front? This panel will provide effective, creative ways that students and universities can make a tangible difference in their local communities - without taking a 14-hour plane trip or starting a satellite campus overseas.
Marisol Becerra, Youth Activist, Little Village Environmental Justice
Bob Dixson, Mayor of Greensburg, Kansas
Dolores Huerta, President, Dolores Huerta Foundation
Tim King, Founder, President and CEO, Urban Prep Academies
John Podesta, President and CEO, Center for American Progress
Erica Fernandez who will be speaking in San Francisco at the Round Square conference
Check out 2008 BYA winner Kari Fulton who will be speaking at the Peralta Urban Sustainability Conference on Friday, April 23rd at Laney College. Kari Fulton is a young environmental action activist and the National Campus Climate Challenge Coordinator for the Environmental Justice and Climate Change Initiative. She was also one of the key organizers for PowerShift 2007. To learn more about Kari and the conference visit: http://sustainableperalta.org/conference/
Also, check out Erica Fernandez, 2007 BYA winner, who will be featured on a panel of young environmental activists at the 2010 Round Square America Regional Conference, held April 17th-21st at the Athenian School in San Francisco. Erica has been an active environmentalist for many years and will be sharing her thoughts and experiences at the event. Learn more about the conference and when you can see Erica speak at: http://ourworldrs.wordpress.com/
Alex Lin, 2007 BYA winner, is featured on TakePart for the work he’s doing to minimize America’s electronic trash. He's overseen the recycling of 300,000 pounds of e-waste. He's successfully lobbied the Rhode Island state legislature to ban the dumping of electronics. He's used refurbished computers to create media centers in developing countries like Cameroon and Sri Lanka to foster computer literacy. He’s Alex Lin and he’s just 16 years old.
Read more about Alex and all the work he’s doing at
Recently, the 2009 Brower Youth Award recipients were featured as part of LinkTV’s Earth Focus programming. LinkTV’s Earth Focus series “features under-publicized stories on how changes to the Earth's resources & climate are affecting people all around the world.” The episode also featured a story on Google Earth’s impact on the preservation of the culture of Brazil’s Surui people and the rainforests where they live and how low emission Chinese stoves are changing lives in South Africa.
The episode ends by telling the stories of all six 2009 Brower Youth Award recipients and by highlighting the accomplishments of Dave Brower, BYA, and Earth Island.
Posted by Karen Bailey and Anisha Desai on March 12th, 2010
Prosper Marak, president of the Garo Students Union (GSU) in Meghalaya, India, named one of the Earth Heroes of 2009 by Sanctuary Asia and the Royal Bank of Scotland, was awarded the prestigious ‘Young Naturalist Award’ in December 2009.
The area, South Garo, was being ravaged by illegal coal mining. The members of the GSU decided to do something about it. In July of 2008, contractors began destroying large areas of forest in Balpakram National Park in order to build a road to reach the illegal coal mines. Marak and members of the GSU seized the bulldozer and gave it to the police. They then personally began replanting and protecting the forest to prevent further damage. The students then convinced more than 100 schools and colleges to join in their non-violent resistance and help re-plant the forest as well. They succeeded in halting the destruction and have put serious pressure on the state to better regulate and prevent illegal mining and the devastating effect it has on their natural environment.
In his award speech Marak said, “I accept this award on behalf of my colleagues in GSU who have fought tooth-and-nail to preserve Balpakram National Park and the amazing wildlife of the Garo Hills.”
Read the full story at http://infochangeindia.org/201002068151/Environment/Changemaker/Green-warriors-of-the-Garo-hills.html
Posted by Karen Bailey and Anisha Desai on March 11th, 2010
The Rolex Awards “support enterprising individuals who are making the world a better place”. Alexander Srodes, a 2005 BYA winner and current finalist for the Rolex Awards for Enterprise: Young Laureates Programme, is doing just that-- making the world a better place. The program searches for growing pioneers to provide them with support and encouragement to help create tomorrow’s leaders. The winners receive $50,000 over two years to advance their project and publicity through the Rolex Awards Program.
Alexander is one of 27 finalists from 16 countries with projects that are destined to impact the world. His project promotes conservation of sea turtles through a children’s activity book and an educational campaign. During his Turtle Talks and through its availability online, thousands of copies have been distributed all over the world and it has been translated into Spanish and French. Srodes explains his dedication to his work-- “I became aware of the dismal plight of these animals and it became my dream to educate and inspire people to help protect them.”
We wish Zander the best of luck in The Rolex Awards Programme! Winners will be announced in April.
Posted by Karen Bailey and Anisha Desai on March 11th, 2010
Hai Vo, 2009 BYA recipient is changing the way we eat. He was recently featured in YES! Magazine for “Putting Real Food on Campus Plates.” When Hai began as a student at UC Irvine, he started asking questions about the foods college students are eating. Colleges and universities in the US spend billions of dollars every year on food but only 2% of that food is considered “real,” that is “sustainable food that is ethically, fairly, and humanely produced without chemical pesticides and a huge carbon footprint.”
Hai immediately felt the need to take action and co founded The Real Food Challenge, a movement to increase the amount of real food used by colleges and universities across the nation. The goal at UC Irvine is to increase the amount of real food served to students from its current 10 percent to 20 percent by 2010.
Currently, the Real Food Challenge is participating in the annual Real Food Summits, held all over the country. The goals of the summits are to meet and network with other “real food” students and get support and ideas for getting real food at more schools. At the most recent summit in the Southeast, more than 150 students from Maryland to Florida participated in panels and workshops led by NGO professionals, sustainable agriculture researchers, professors, union organizers, farmers, and students.
Posted by Nicole Vermeer and Sharon Smith on February 2nd, 2010
Forces of Nature profiles the inspirational grassroots work of 12 young
people recognized with the nation's top environmental prize for young people -
the Brower Youth Awards. Among those profiled in short 4-5 minute segments are talented young people who are:
- Transforming the food and eating practices at universities across California.
-Leading a group of 200 students advocating a transition to biomass heating in
-Launching a company that focuses on energy efficiency projects led by
- Training hundreds of young people to become climate champions.
- Launching a non-profit to create a migratory corridor in the Costa Rican
- Educating a community about the dangers of living near dirty coal-fired power
The DVD can be viewed in two 25 minute segments, or in 12 short segments.
Teachers who promote service learning and community engagement will find this
an inspirational tool for their students.
Posted by Nicole Vermeer and Sharon Smith on November 10th, 2009
the age of 22, after finishing her undergraduate theses, naturally the next
step for native Angeleno Kesha Ram was to secure a seat in the Vermont House of Representatives, becoming the
youngest person and the only person of color to do so.
Well it wasn’t that simple, but
considering Kesha’s long history of activism and her participation in student
and local governments while an undergrad at the University of Vermont well prepared her for her
position. She was endorsed by numerous state senators and representatives, and also the youngest woman
to be endorsed by Emily’s List .
is an outspoken advocate for the environment, claiming she will fight for green
jobs in Vermont, she also hopes to expand public transit and provide real
alternatives to driving in the mostly-rural state.
Posted by Nicole Vermeer and Sharon Smith on November 7th, 2009
On November 17th,
2008 environmental activists, former coal miners, Navajo tribe members
and a Wyoming rancher came together in Charleston, West Virginia to
discuss the negative impact that coal has had on their lives and their
These people and many more came together to form the Power Past Coal initiative,
an organization created to unify those working to end the destructive
forces of coal mining, spearheaded and organized by Sierra
Crane-Murdoch, a student at Vermont’s Middlebury college.
Power past coal initiated the 100 days of action,
a movement that connected many different anti-coal events throughout
the country: one event each day for the first 100 days of Obama’s
presidency. By the end of the campaign there were over 300 hundred
events, ranging from lobbying days to protests to rallies to teach-ins
and permit hearings. In total there were over 300 actions in 100 days
in all fifty states; thirty-five organizations joined the project, and
four dozen more that participated; and there were over 500 lobby
meetings with Congress.
“Our goal was to collect stories from communities impacted by coal …and convince President Obama, the EPA, the CEQ,
and our Congressmen and women to enact the policies that would allow
our country to “swiftly and justly” transition away from coal,” said
Among these actions was the March 2nd civil
disobedience at the Capitol Coal Plant, which shut down operation for
four hours and convinced the district to stop burning coal. Similarly,
an April protest in North Carolina lead to 44 arrests for trespassing.
The Power Past Coal project was immensely successful, engaging a
nationwide network of communities impacted by coal who had never worked
together before. And it seemed the government began to listen: over the
course of the project there were five mountaintop removal permits
revoked, more than twenty new coal plant permits denied, and
commitments from the EPA to regulate carbon dioxide from coal plants
and coal ash from slurry ponds.
Posted by Nicole Vermeer and Sharon Smith on October 16th, 2009
the University of California, Irvine,
only 10% of the food bought by the dining system is “real” food, that
whole fruits, vegetables and grains, not terrible, considering the
national average is 2%. The rest is the processed, modified and
additive-laden foodstuffs that have been plaguing our country for the
This fact coupled with his own quest for healthy
food inspired Hai Vo, a native of Orange County to start the UCI chapter
of the Real Food Challenge. The RFC is a "national movement to increase the procurement of real food on
college and university campuses and is a network of students and their allies
to connect, learn from each other, and grow". According to the RFC website, over $5 billion per year are
spent on food in collegs and universities across the nation. Hai Vo wants UC Irvine to
re-invest in food that is “real” - ecologically-sound, community-based, humane,
and fair - supporting the greater health of consumers, producers, local
communities, and the environment. Hai's goal for the campus is 20% real food by 2020.
Posted by Nicole Vermeer and Sharon Smith on June 11th, 2009
If you have been following the youth environmental movement in the
past few years, it would be difficult to have missed the name Alec
Loorz. Alec has been an environmental activist since seeing the film "An Inconvenient Truth"
two years ago. At the time, Alec wanted to become one of the 1000
trained presenters of Al Gore's global warming presentation, but was
denied because of his age - which at the time was 12.
to give up on his desire to educate the world about global warming,
Alec sought out the nearest Inconvenient truth presenter, and learned
his own version of the presentation. About a year later he finally met
Al Gore and became the youngest official presenter in October of 2008.
14, Alec has given 75 presentations to over 10,000 people, and has been
the keynote speaker at events such as the City of Los Angeles' Environmental Youth Conference.
He has also founded the organization Kids vs. Global Warming, which mobilized youth to start fighting global warming, as well as the SLAP
(Sea Level Awareness Project) which on June 29th will install poles
along the coast of his hometown of Ventura, California which measure
sea levels in order to show the community the changes caused by global