Faiza Azam is a senior at John Dewey High School and found her passion for climate change activism while working with Resilient Schools Consortium (RiSC). Her work to make JDHS more resilient against future natural disasters led Faiza to realize she wants to pursue a career in environmental policy. Additionally, Faiza has worked with the New York Aquarium's Wildlife Conservation Society where she focused on protecting endangered marine wildlife by working to raise awareness about the harms of single use plastic pollution. Faiza convinced businesses near Coney Island to ban plastic utensils by marching for the ocean in a seastar costume on World’s Ocean Day, as well as organized and educated other youth about protecting marine animals at a Youth Summit. Her hobbies include listening to music, studying music and dance, gaming, learning new languages, and Broadway musicals.
First, thank you for making this year such a success. With your support, our organization empowered young leaders across the country to advance (and win!) bold climate policy. We organized over 400 outreach events, trained more than 1,000 students, published 70 media pieces, and held countless other actions to build youth support for urgent action to protect our future. And it paid off: we won the country's most ambitious and economy-wide climate bill in New York State (with our incredible partners at NY Renews) and are poised to get more policies over the finish line in early 2020. I hope you'll check out our 2019 Annual Report if you haven't already, and celebrate all we did together.
Cosima Balletti-Thomas is a recent Fordham University graduate with a bachelor's degree in Environmental/Urban Studies and an upcoming MS Finance candidate at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business. Cosima was a spring semester Field Representative with Our Climate and a current volunteer.
November 2019 Newsletter
As the year comes to an end, we are so grateful to our supporters for making this one of our most successful years yet. As the youth climate movement grows, we can't wait to see what lies ahead... we know it will include more dedicated leaders, winning state policy, and holding polluters accountable!
CHECK OUT OUR STRATEGIC FRAMEWORK
Earlier this year, our team embarked on our first Strategic Visioning process to clarify our role within the larger youth climate movement and set priorities for the coming years. This process led to many fruitful conversations among our leadership team and provided important clarity and focus. Most of all, it reminded us how powerful youth organizing is, especially when it comes to protecting our future—and it got us fired up to keep winning! We hope you'll take a look at our Strategic Framework and let us know what you think.
LAYING THE GROUNDWORK TO WIN
Phone banking in Massachusetts!
After an October whirlwind of TEDx talks, coalition retreats, meetings with key legislators, and award ceremonies, OC New England is building momentum toward a carbon pricing bill hearing in early 2020. We are not only preparing some searing testimony for the hearing itself, but running a phonebank and preparing to host an Intergenerational Lobby Day and Whale Mosaic Builds after the new year. Want to get involved? Email email@example.com for more information.
What's up in New York State?
Student leaders have been working alongside our coalition partners to urge Senate and Assembly leadership to appoint climate champions to the Climate Action Council, the 22-person body that will oversee implementation of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. Next up: asking for a $1 billion Climate and Community Investment Fund, a down payment on the goals set by the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, which passed last spring. Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for more details and to get involved at this critical time.
Legislators and youth speak on OC Panel in Oregon
Thank you to everyone who attended our Cap and Invest: The Road to a Clean Energy Future Panel at Lewis and Clark. The discussion was moderated by our youth leaders, and featured Representative Power, Portland State University Economics Professor Sahan T.M. Dissanayake, and Clean Energy Jobs advocate Madison Daisy Hathaway. The main takeaway? We must pass climate legislation during the 2020 short session! Email email@example.com if you are able to attend Legislative Day in Salem this Monday, November 18. Legislative Day is an opportunity to meet with your elected officials and demonstrate that their constituents support bold climate action now.
Our Florida Fellowship is accepting applications!
We are currently accepting applications for our 2020 Spring Florida Fellowship! The Sunshine State will play a critical role in the 2020 election—and young people can make the difference. Spring Fellows will organize their communities, engage the media, meet with lawmakers, and mobilize their peers to VOTE. You can see the position description and apply to be a Fellow here.
Young Nebraskans striking for the 8th week in a row
Our young leaders in Nebraska have had an active month! In addition to hosting documentary screenings, planning a full day Youth Climate Summit, and launching the state’s first coalition to combat the climate crisis, youth in Lincoln have also been striking on Fridays for eight straight weeks. Join us as a Field Rep and help us drive change in America’s heartland.
OUR CLIMATE'S NEW ALUMNI FUNDRAISING COHORT
We're proud to announce the launch of our Alumni Fundraising Cohort, a group of alumni who are organizing their communities to support Our Climate's work for the long haul as Monthly Sustainers. Over the next month, Alumni Fundraising Cohort members will have conversations about giving, climate change, and social justice with their friends and family as a way of building transformational relationships with the people who support us as we do this work. Feeling inspired? Support them by becoming a monthly sustainer today!
FEATURED STUDENT LEADER
Faiza Azam is currently a senior at John Dewey High School in New York. Faiza found her passion for climate change activism while working with Resilient Schools Consortium (RiSC), a program for NYC public schools in Brooklyn impacted by Hurricane Sandy. Her work to make her high school more resilient against future natural disasters led Faiza to realize she wants to pursue a career in environmental policy.
As a Field Representative with Our Climate, Faiza organized a climate advocacy workshop for her peers, shared her story with reporters at the Youth Climate Strike, and pressured state elected officials to appoint climate champions to the Climate Action Council. She is looking forward to meeting with her State Senator to ask him to support pricing pollution. Learn more about our other new leaders here!
CHECK OUT OUR DIVERSITY, EQUITY AND INCLUSION ACTION PLAN
Earlier this year, we invited Our Climate leaders to explore how we can grow our diversity and ensure our organization and programs are inclusive and equitable. We are proud of, and humbled by, the participation, learning, and important conversations we held with student leaders, allies, staff, and board members. After months of hard work, the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee is excited to share a finalized DEI Action Plan. We hope you will read the two pager and check out the full plan on our website.
If you have any questions about the process or our progress in implementing it so far, please do not hesitate to reach out to our Deputy Director.
OUR CLIMATE STANDS IN SOLIDARITY
This week, the United States Supreme Court heard arguments on the Trump Administration's attempted repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programs for children of undocumented immigrants. Our Climate stands in solidarity with immigrants and DREAMers, and we encourage our supporters to consider making a donation to United We Dream, the largest immigrant youth-led network in the U.S.
Our Climate includes a solidarity action in every monthly newsletter. Please write us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your suggestions on what we should feature in the future.
FALL FUNDRAISING DRIVE: 1 DAY LEFT!
We are raising money for our young leaders to hit the ground running in the new year to win state-level climate policy. Funds will allow us to cover transportation to Youth Lobby Days, host workshops and trainings, share students' stories in the media, and so much more. We are so grateful for everyone who has donated already! If you haven't yet, will you make a contribution before Friday's deadline? You can donate on Facebook or on our website. Thank you!
Adilia is an Environmental Studies major and Writing minor at Seattle University. She aspires to be a journalist and environmental writer. Originally from Stockton, California, her interest in the environment has increased since going to school in the Pacific Northwest. As a Doris Duke Fellowship Alumni, she wants to continue her work in fighting climate change. She loves staying busy by working on her blog, Accidie and Affection, or having fun at a Jamaican Dancehall class!
Olivia is a sophomore at Boston University studying Environmental Analysis and Policy. She is originally from Seattle, Washington, where she enjoyed hiking, skiing, and swimming in local lakes and rivers. At Boston University, Olivia is involved in the Environmental Student Organization, which works to make Boston University more sustainable. She also writes for the Emerald Review, which promotes current news in environmental science and policies. Olivia also worked for a summer as a Sustainability Ambassador for her university, where she educated incoming students about Boston University’s efforts to be more sustainable. Olivia hopes to pursue a career where she can impact environmental policy. By working with Our Climate, Olivia hopes to build the foundational skills to influence environmental policy and be a role model for other aspiring policy influencers.
Ruby is a senior at Northeastern University pursuing her B.S. in Economics and Math, with a focus on environmental policy and sustainable food systems. She was a Northeast Fellow with Our Climate in the spring, and is currently a Policy and Research Fellow with Our Climate's partner, Climate XChange.
Maya Navabi is a senior at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York pursuing a BSE in Mechanical Engineering. Coming from the Sonoran Desert, she grew up learning about water scarcity and environmental conservation in a unique ecosystem. After graduation, she wants to work in the Renewable Energy sector to make it more accessible for everyone. Along with Our Climate, Maya is the chairperson of RPI’s Student Sustainability Task Force, and tries to incorporate sustainability into every conversation she has.
Ayessa Mae Oasan recently completed her B.A.in Environmental Studies and a minor in Asian and Asian American Studies at Binghamton University. She has been involved in a number of local green revitalization projects in Binghamton while attending university and is passionate about working directly with a community on creating an equitable and sustainable environment for all. Ayessa Mae was also an executive board member of the Asian Student Union on campus, setting a platform for topics in Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) history, contemporary issues, and civic engagement to flourish. In her spare time, Ayessa Mae enjoys drawing, playing guitar, singing, and going to concerts.
As a young person in today’s society, I often feel like I, along with my peers, am carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders - literally! When I first read about the rainforest being on fire for the third week straight, I suffered what seemed to be a hybrid of a heartbreak and a panic attack. Instagram and other forms of social media have highlighted the ominous predictions for sea level rise over the next decade, and I had already seen the videos of the Greenland ice melt, but for some reason, seeing pictures of the most diverse ecosystem on the planet turning to smoke, hurt far worse than what I had already known. As a result of rapid deforestation, and the Earth’s temperatures rising, there are 80% more forest fires in the Amazon region this year than last. The Amazon rainforest is home to over 40,000 plant species and over 100,000 animal species, including the birds that fly in the canopy, the apex predators that hunt on the forest floor, and the insects that claim the parts of the forest too small for other inhabitants. As if that is not enough, this diverse ecosystem is also home to 30 million people, spanning several ethnic groups in nine different political systems. Though I had understood climate change was an issue, this was the first time I had realized that climate change was the issue. By that I mean, climate change is without a doubt going to have drastic impacts on every aspect of my future, and your future, if you’re reading this. But how do we talk about climate change when our society seems to be plagued with so many other major issues?
With mass shootings taking place more often than we’ve ever seen before in history, an opioid epidemic compounded by a poor healthcare system, human rights violations at the Mexican-American border, and political tension seen around the world, it might be difficult to start the much needed conversation about climate change when these other issues may seem more pressing to activists and those following the news. Even though the United States President, Donald Trump, doesn’t consider climate change a global issue that affects everyone, the six other industrialized democracies that make up the seven largest IMF-described economies met on August 25th at a G7 summit meeting to discuss ways to deal with the climate crisis, and what to do about the Amazon forest fires. This issue is a big deal. It won’t only be Brazilians orindigenous peoples in the Amazon rainforest feeling the heat of this fire, but the whole world has a lot to lose if we do not start talking about climate solutions, implementing equitable climate policy, and holding large corporations and our representatives accountable.
It is important to acknowledge that people disproportionately affected by climate change are usually the same people experiencing other institutional disparities such as unequal access to healthcare, education, fresh food, clean air and water, and are disproportionately incarcerated. With natural disasters getting more intense over the recent years, we have seen communities in New Orleans, Houston, Tallahassee, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands, destroyed by hurricanes; many of them still recovering from the devastation. The National Climate Assessment warns that climate change will have significant impacts on the foods we eat and our access to clean drinking water. In a world where 11% of the population already lives without access to clean water, and nearly half of the population living on less than $2.50 a day, the unrecoverable loss of resources will cause tension and unrest. People will be excluded either geographically or socially from the severely limited resources and wars will begin over clean water and food. Climate refugees will flee from regions of droughts, or regions now under water, and we will see overcrowding in many areas. Globally, we’ve witnessed countless developing nations battered by tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, fires, and droughts, though their carbon footprint is far less than their capitalistic, developed counterparts.
The Environmental Protection Agency says industries are responsible for 21% of greenhouse gases. Another 25% comes from electricity and heat production, and a comparable 24% from agriculture. These are all human related causes of climate change that could be regulated to be more sustainable for the planet and all the people who call Earth home. The corporations and other entities contributing to climate change need to be held accountable for their actions because when you violate the planet and its resources, you also violate humanity. They are exploiting people of color and low socioeconomic status by excluding them from access to a healthy environment. Furthermore, our representatives need to be held accountable in representing us regardless of our race, gender, and socioeconomic status.
So, whatever your fight, recognize that climate change is a human rights issue and the conversation needs to be happening daily. Our futures depend on us voting consistently at the ballot and with our dollars. We MUST call our legislators! It’s crucial to let them know that you’re concerned for your future and demand they bold action on climate change. More importantly, our legislators are elected to work for us, and they need to listen to their constituents. Other important conversations come in the form of presentations at local schools about climate change, and getting young kids into nature to appreciate its immensity and necessity to life. Talk to your peers. Talk to your parents. Change starts with the conversation.