Archive for the 'Youth Leaders' Category

Boston 500: Challenge to Save Energy

Tomorrow, June 1, is a big day in Boston. In the midst of a heat advisory with temperatures expected in the 90s, a broad coalition of 40 community organizations and businesses are joining Mayor Menino in the Boston 500: Challenge to Save Energy, a citywide day of action to save energy, save money, and save the planet. Volunteers and organizers at more than 25 events in 12 Boston neighborhoods will aim to sign up 500 Boston residents for no-cost Renew Boston home energy assessments and weatherization.

The first Boston 500 event kicked off at 8am this morning at the administrative offices of the Boston Public Schools. The staff charged with supporting our youngest Bostonians were introduced to energy conservation strategies and became the first Renew Boston sign ups of the Challenge.

Sean Attri engages a Boston Public School staff  member about Renew Boston in the first Boston 500 event.

Sean Attri talks to a Boston Public School staffer at the first Boston 500 event.

At 9am tomorrow the Challenge begins with farmers, growers, and neighborhood organizations in Adams Park, who will celebrate the grand opening of the summer’s first Roslindale Farmers Market. GreeningRozzie will be giving out free trees with energy assessment signups and Boston Building Resources will display energy saving and green products for the home.

At 10:30 Boston’s Chief of Energy and Environment, Brian Swett will kick off a press conference outside the Jamaica Plain home of Laura Sylvan. Swett will announce exciting new energy efficiency incentives for Boston duplexes and triple deckers. Sylvan, the owner of a triple-decker, is hosting an “Energy Open House” from 10-12pm to invite neighbors to kick the tires on her new  Total Climate Control heating and cooling system and insulation installed by Renew Boston provider Next Step Living. Her’s is one of four “Energy Open House” events hosted by past Renew Boston customers on the day.

Continue reading ‘Boston 500: Challenge to Save Energy’

At Greenpeace Action Camp, a vision of the movement we want

Hi All,

Here’s a crosspost of a blog by Dave Pomerantz at Greenpeace on last week’s Action Camp. I hope to see increasing discussion of a more collective movement!

John

Title: At Greenpeace Action Camp, a vision of the movement we want

Activists and trainers from Greenpeace's Coastal Canyons Action Camp

For a long time, corporations and governments have used the tried and true tactic of divide and conquer: they’ve tried to convince us that the immigrant rights struggle is different from the worker rights struggle, which is different from the climate justice struggle, to name just a few of the efforts to make the world a more sustainable place.

Of course, those divisions are false and self-serving: all of those struggles are linked by both cause and effect. The corporations, institutions and systems that caused environmental destruction by prioritizing the wealth of the few over the health of the many are the exact same ones that have trampled the rights of workers, immigrants, and the poor. And environmental crises like climate change promise to hit immigrant and poor communities the hardest.

Last week, Greenpeace hosted an Action Camp in Southern California for 160 activists where we focused intently on pushing back against those false divisions.

Continue reading ‘At Greenpeace Action Camp, a vision of the movement we want’

Stop the Coal Trains, Bring Climate Justice to Eugene

This post was submitted to It’s Getting Hot in Here by Emma Newman, of the Climate Justice League at University of Oregon.

As coal plants in the United States continue to close, local organizations around the country appear to have struck a blow to the industry. But in reality, as coal consumption decreases in our country, global demand continues to rise. A result of this shift in demand can be found in recent proposals to ship Powder River Basin coal from Montana and Wyoming through several Northwest ports. One of these proposals would bring coal right through the city of Eugene, to the Port of Coos Bay.

Eugene has been given a unique opportunity to combat coal by rallying against this proposal. Not only are coal mining and combustion dirty; its transportation presents significant health hazards as well. The coal passing right through downtown Eugene, slowing traffic for up to eight minutes would be transported in open bed coal trains.

More than 100 tons of coal dust per train will blow off between Montana and Coos Bay. The dust contains heavy metals such as lead and mercury and causes lung diseases, as well as pollution from the diesel that fuels the trains. Regionally, the health impacts of coal follow the transportation and watershed routes.

This is a major issue we face as a community, region, and nation and it represents a textbook environmental justice problem. Environmental justice (EJ) is a social movement that includes mainly people of marginalized communities and focuses on the environment directly around people in society who carry many environmental burdens in their everyday lives, including living and working conditions. EJ strives to bring communities autonomy through their fight for civil and human rights. The coal trains will be passing directly through the Whiteaker neighborhood, a historically working class part of the city.

Emma Newman, a Co-Director of the Cascade Climate Network, went on an environmental justice tour in West Eugene last week and saw the neighborhoods that would be hardest hit. “One neighborhood,” Emma said, “was literally surrounded by a train yard on one side and train tracks on the other. They are already suffering from a toxic plume in their well water and the last thing that they need is coal dust drifting over their park and onto their vegetable gardens.” Continue reading ‘Stop the Coal Trains, Bring Climate Justice to Eugene’

Iowa City promotes environmental education in local high schools

Cross-posted from Solutionaries.net by Kerri Sorrell

Focus often eludes high school students with seven different classes covering seven different subjects and too much homework to jam in their backpacks at the end of the day – but on Thursday, April 5, EcoCentric and Envirocity, environmental clubs at two Iowa City high schools, teamed up with Iowa City Summer of Solutions to concentrate class discussions on one issue: the environment.

The daylong event, Focus the Classroom, encouraged teachers to relate the subjects they teach to current environmental issues. Last summer, Zach Gruenhagen, Bailey McClellan and Noelle Waldschmidt from the Iowa City solutionary team worked to complete a website with sustainability-focused lesson plans for every subject area, to help teachers more easily integrate the environment into their classes. In addition, presentations ran all day from environmental leaders in the Iowa City community, including Tim Dwight – a Iowa City High graduate and former professional football player.

Dwight, a popular speaker at both high schools, co-founded a renewable energy company called Integrated Power Corporation after retiring from the San Diego Chargers. At the Focus the Classroom event, he gave presentations extolling the virtues of solar energy.

“This shift [to renewable energy] that I’m going to talk about is your generational shift, and it’s going to be massive. Producing energy with wind and solar will change the world because those resources are available anywhere, and you’re going to see it,” he told students at West High school.

Read more …

Continue reading ‘Iowa City promotes environmental education in local high schools’

BREAKING: Student Activists Hang Banner at MSU

Today Michigan State students took action to push their school to go 100% renewable. Here’s what my friend David Pinsky had to say about their situation last week:

The Michigan State University (MSU) T.B. Simon coal plant is the largest on-campus coal plant in the country.

The MSU coal plant burns 200,000 tons of coal every year, and is one contributor to the 31 annual deaths in the Lansing area due to coal-fired power plants.

Since 2009, hundreds of MSU students have been waking up and saying “today I am going to shut down our campus coal plant!” For nearly three years, two student groups, MSU Greenpeace and MSU Beyond Coal, have been working tirelessly to pressure their administration to shut down the coal plant and transition to 100% clean energy.

Following relentless grassroots organizing from students, the administration finally responded – with an unambitious energy transition plan that calls for 40% clean energy by 2030. The plan also contains false solutions such as burning biomass and natural gas. Greenpeace and Sierra Club energy experts have concerns about the methodology used to create the plan. The ultimate goal of the plan is 100% clean energy. However, with a current timeline that extends to 2030, meeting not even half of the 100% goal, MSU students are calling on the MSU Board of Trustees to reject the current energy transition plan.

On April 13th, the MSU Board of Trustees has the power to reject this unambitious plan and demonstrate leadership on clean energy…. ” Read the rest of Davids blog on Quitcoal.org

This is part of a week of action and students around the country are taking action in solidarity, you can too.

You can tweet about this using the hashtag #quitcoalmsu

Northeast High School Students Slash Carbon, Win $1,000

In partnership with the National Grid Foundation, an amazing organization that creates opportunities for solutions to educational and environmental issues, the Alliance for Climate Education (ACE) hosted the Green Dependence Day Challenge this past fall. Together, we challenged thousands of high school students in select regions across the Northeast to combat climate change.

And at long last, the results are in – and we are thrilled to share them with you today!

First… a little context. To win the Green Dependence Day Challenge in the first place, high school students in New York City, Long Island, Upstate New York, and New England viewed the award-winning ACE Assembly on climate science and solutions. Then, they worked with ACE to take on carbon emissions-reducing projects—anything from implementing recycling programs to conducting energy efficiency retrofits to installing solar panels. Students reported the number and scope of carbon-reducing projects that they completed. The winners in each region would take home $1,000 to implement their next great green ideas.

More than 26 schools across New York and New England competed in the contest and completed projects such as carrying out energy audits, or implementing recycling programs. Out of these entrants, 4 regional winners and 2 runner-ups emerged! Without further delay, here they are:

GRAND PRIZE WINNERS

New England Winner: Somerville High School
Somerville has developed a strong classroom recycling program and through their winning project, they will develop a recycling program in their cafeteria as well as other high-use areas of the school such as the gym and the auditorium. The project will involve placing large recycling bins in new areas and an extensive peer education campaign that involves loudspeaker announcements, posters, and incentives. This project will impact the entire school, which has 1,300 students, and it will reach many students who may not be interested in environmental issues otherwise. They will measure their progress by weighing the trash before the project, and again in May 2012. They aim to reduce their trashload by 15% by June 2012.

Upstate New York Winner: Steinmetz Career & Leadership Academy
The Steinmetz Academy’s Action Team is working tirelessly to eliminate environmental pollutants and waste. Their winning project will help reduce and eventually eliminate their school’s use of styrofoam. They will also begin recycling and collecting all paper and cardboard. Last, through this project, they will recycle all cans and bottles produced. They expect that if they are able to eliminate styrofoam, they will reduce their waste by more than 3,600 “lunch trays” per month – a huge savings! Similarly, they estimate they will save more than four 90 gallon containers of paper waste each week.

New York City Winner: Brooklyn International High School
Brooklyn International’s Green Leaders Club will replace two broken water fountains and encourage fellow students to use reusable water bottles. They will also collect plastic water bottles and recycle them. The school will decrease the number of students buying water by approximately 30%, and recycle 50% more plastic water bottles.

Long Island Winner: Mineola High School
Mineola’s Environmental Club collects any kind of bottle cap – water bottle, shampoo, laundry detergent caps – and recycles them. Through their participation in the bottle cap recycling program, they have raised awareness about the importance of recycling and how waste can be ‘up-cycled’ into other goods. Through their winning project, in spring 2012 the Club will bring the bottle cap recycling program to nearby elementary schools. High school students will educate younger students about the importance of recycling. They ultimately aim to make bottle cap recycling – and eco-friendly behavior – a district-wide activity.

RUNNER UPS

New York: St. Ann’s School
This Brooklyn high school will continue to create a self-sustaining green space at their school. Last year, their Action Team acquired donations to transform their small backyard space into a garden/green hangout space for students. This spring, the team seeks to add a rain collection system and compost unit to the garden so that all water and sod needs for the garden will be provided through existing resources. In addition, the high school students will use the garden as a teaching tool, educating younger middle school students about the process of composting and sustainable gardening.

New England: Abby Kelley Foster Charter Public School
Abby Kelley’s Environmental Action Club is increasing alternative transportation at their school through the recent purchase of a new bicycle rack. With the grant funds, they will host a concert, dubbed “Rock On, Power Off,” in April to launch their campus bicycle program. The concert’s intermission will feature a bike parade and they will ask the students to decorate their bicycles or skateboards and ride them around the parking lot to the new bicycle rack. The concert will also raised funds to purchase solar powered lights for their school flagpoles.

Climate Activist Punks Big Oil’s “Vote4Energy” Commercial Shoot

Posted on Behalf of Connor Gibson, Greenpeace Activist.

If you had the chance to talk to Big Oil directly to its big oily face, what would you want to say?

I recently had such a chance at a commercial shoot run by the American Petroleum Institute, the major lobbying and public relations front for the oil industry (ie ExxonMobil, Chevron, BP, Shell, TransCanada and just about every major oil company). Here’s what I had to say:

Through recorded audio, we got to expose API’s upcoming “Vote4Energy” campaign, which debuts January first on CNN during major political programs. Audio recordings from inside the Vote4Energy commercial shoot can be found on the Greenpeace website, and on Yahoo News. More can also be found at the Checks and Balances Project, where Deputy Director and youth climate leader Gabe Elsner has more recordings from inside the shoot.

Continue reading ‘Climate Activist Punks Big Oil’s “Vote4Energy” Commercial Shoot’

BREAKING: U.S. Youth Ejected from Climate Talks While Calling Out Congress’s Failure

Abigail Borah calls out Congress and the Obama Administration's inaction at the UN climate talks in South Africa before being removed by security

Abigail Borah calls out Congress and the Obama Administration's inaction at the UN climate talks in South Africa before being removed by security. credit: Katherine Rainone, SustainUS

Durban, South Africa – After nearly two weeks of stalled progress by the United States at the international climate talks, U.S. youth spoke out for a real, science-based climate treaty.  Abigail Borah, a New Jersey resident, interrupted the start of lead U.S. negotiator Todd Stern’s speech to call out members of Congress for impeding global climate progress, delivering a passionate call for an urgent path towards a fair and binding climate treaty. Stern was about to speak to international ministers and high-level negotiators at the closing plenary of the Durban climate change negotiations. Borah was ejected from the talks shortly following her speech.

Borah, a student at Middlebury College, spoke for U.S. negotiators because “they cannot speak on behalf of the United States of America”, highlighting that “the obstructionist Congress has shackled a just agreement and delayed ambition for far too long.” Her delivery was followed by applause from the entire plenary of leaders from around the world.

Since before the climate talks, the United States, blocked by a Congress hostile to climate action, has held the position of holding off on urgent pollution reductions targets until the year 2020. Studies from the International Energy Agency, numerous American scientists, and countless other peer-reviewed scientific papers show that waiting until 2020 to begin aggressive emissions reduction would cause irreversible climate change, including more severe tropical storms, worsening droughts, and devastation affecting communities and businesses across America.  Nevertheless, the United States has held strong to its woefully inadequate and voluntary commitments made in the Copenhagen Accord in 2009 and the Cancun Agreement in 2010.

“2020 is too late to wait,” urged Borah. “We need an urgent path towards a fair, ambitious, and legally binding treaty.”

The U.S. continues to negotiate on time borrowed from future generations, and with every step of inaction forces young people to suffer the quickly worsening climate challenges that previous generations have been unable and unwilling to address.

Photos are available here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/sustainus

Video here:

http://youtu.be/XDQxg7F2j1s

And check out – U.S. Youth Say “2020: It’s too late to wait”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQVpZQ1UlKw

Full text of Abigail’s speech:

I am speaking on behalf of the United States of America because my negotiators cannot.  The obstructionist Congress has shackled justice and delayed ambition for far too long.  I am scared for my future.  2020 is too late to wait.  We need an urgent path to a fair ambitious and legally binding treaty.

you must take responsibility to act now, or you will threaten the lives of youth and the world’s most vulnerable.

You must set aside partisan politics and let science dictate decisions.  You must pledge ambitious targets to lower emissions not expectations.  Citizens across the world are being held hostage by stillborn negotiations.

We need leaders who will commit to real change, not empty rhetoric.  Keep your promises. Keep our hope alive. 2020 is too late to wait.

Bellingham Students Speak Out for a Clean Energy Future

This guest post was contributed by Eric Jensen, a student activist at Western Washington University

Wednesday night, outside of a heated local candidates debate about a proposed massive coal export terminal just ten miles from Western Washington University, a group of students with the Western Action Coalition decided to have a little fun while calling attention to the issue.

The coal terminal, proposed by SSA Marine and it’s minority owner Goldman Sachs, would ship coal from open pit mines in Wyoming through Bellingham, Washington and out of a port at Cherry Point, eventually reaching East Asian markets. The terminal poses a significant threat to communities near WWU: coal dust and coal runoff from open freight cars are a concern to anyone near the tracks; thriving forest would be stripped from the land at Cherry Point; and 80 acres of uncovered coal could degrade the spawning grounds of an endemic herring population, which forms the bottom of the marine food chain. The impacts are as diverse as the communities that would be affected by them.

An action organized by the Western Action Coalition with Earth First! Whatcom focused attention on some of the impacts, while calling the WWU student community to take action with their ballots this week.  Olivia Edwards, a junior studying environmental science dressed as a Salmon. Unconvinced by SSA’s arguments, she said “there are still a multitude of questions that need to be answered and that deserve to be addressed.”

Demonstrators distributed literature endorsing county council and mayoral candidates that will stick up for a sustainable economy for Bellingham and beyond. They called for electing Pete Kremen, Christina Maginnis, and Alan Black for Whatcom County Council and Dan Pike for Bellingham Mayor – all of whom have been endorsed by Washington Conservation Voters.

Continue reading ‘Bellingham Students Speak Out for a Clean Energy Future’

Thoughts following Midwest Powershift

Cross-posted from http://www.solutionaries.net by Ruby Levine

I spent the weekend at Midwest Powershift in Cleveland. Among the rallies, trainings, and speeches, I was able to catch some downtime with fellow Summer of Solutions program leaders and participants from around the Midwest. Especially valuable was a conversation I had with members of other Midwestern programs on Saturday night.

500 young people applaud Joshua Kahn Russell's keynote poem at Midwest Powershift in Cleveland. Photo credit Ben Hejkal.

This conversation helped me articulate two things: one, the “good environmentalists vs. the evil polluters” framing I saw a lot of other places during the conference makes me deeply uncomfortable, and two, if the green economy is going to work it needs to be the whole economy, not a side industry.

Continue reading ‘Thoughts following Midwest Powershift’


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