Hi everyone and happy Earth Day!
Thank you for registering to attend the 2019 DC Area Youth Climate Summit on Wednesday, April 24. Looking forward to meeting everyone! Here are some things to know before the Climate Summit on Wednesday:
The summit will be held at the Silver Spring Civic Building from 9am to 2pm on Wednesday. The address is 1 Veterans Plaza, Silver Spring, Maryland. It's a short walk from the Silver Spring Metro station.
Plan to arrive at the summit by 9. If you're a student coming from Blair, you have the option of meeting in the morning at Blair and walking, or going straight from home to meet at the Civic Building at 9. If you're speaking at the summit or leading a breakout session, please arrive by 8:30.
We'll have an hour-long break at noon during the summit where you can get lunch, walk through a tabling fair, and meet other people from the summit. Make sure to bring money for lunch in Downtown Silver Spring, or bring a lunch from home.
Lastly, we have some great workshops and breakout sessions planned for the day. Sign up for the breakout sessions you want to join at this link:
We are also excited to announce that we will be having a an Art Sale! It features several students who use their talent in the arts for activism, the proceeds of this sale will go to both Climate Summit and the artists! Please bring money!
Make sure to sign up early before they fill up!
If you have any questions, or want to sell original art at the summit, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
See everyone on Wednesday!
On March 15, thousands of youth from all around the world heard Greta Thunberg’s cry for action. They were inspired and took to the streets in an international Youth Climate Strike. The organizers of the Climate Summit were made aware of the strike early on and joined in on the planning process. Suddenly it became a whirlwind of calls discussing permits, speakers, etc. The pile of work was so high that it would make any head spin (and fall behind on their homework as several of us did).
To advertise and get people to attend the strike, Montgomery Blair High School students painted a 6 ft wide by 18 ft long banner. They also held a massive banner drop in the school to get people excited. They also took that banner with them as they marched down to the Capitol, along with Northwood High School students.
Sometimes there are moments in life that are so surreal in which it feels like you must be dreaming. The entire climate strike was like that for Absa. She was the stage manager for the rally. This meant that her job was to make sure that each of the speakers knew when to go onstage and, well, speak. Of course, as stage manager, this lead to her actually speaking to each of the phenomenal list of speakers, though it was about work. There was the Tiny Diplomat, Rebel Rae, and Congresswoman Ilhan Omar. She had to force herself not to get too starstruck while speaking to her idols about mundane things such as the stage lineup.
It is amazing to actually meet the people that you look up to. It is even more amazing when your idols tell you that they are inspired by you. Rebel Rae told Anna and Absa that seeing young climate activists makes her excited for the future. One of Ilan Omar’s staffers mentioned to Absa that she was awestruck by how the youth are taking action and making real change. There is a feeling of pride that wells up in one’s gut when they realize that what they are doing is “cool.” So often when you are being an activist you jump from one event to another. But when you are given the chance to actually look back at what you have accomplished, you realize that you kinda are cool.
The Climate Strike rally in front of the Capitol couldn’t have gone better. The crowd was hyped. The speakers were inspiring. And all of the organizers were beaming with pride. The main goal of the strike was to rally a call to action for elected officials to take action against climate change and support a Green New Deal. After the strike we had so many young people messaging us, asking how they can get involved.
When a whole event, that has taken months in the making, comes to its end, there is a feeling of loss. Even though there was a high level of stress and an intense amount of work, it gave purpose to one’s life. It is glorious to know that you are fighting for the right cause. No matter the blood, sweat, and tears that went into the organizing process. The climate summit organizers felt such a feeling of loss for only a second, before being tossed into the world of Climate Summit. The hustle don’t stop after all.
We will never forget our experience organizing the strike. This has allowed us to create lifelong friendships and has expanded network of youth activists.
Absa and Anna managed to get an overwhelming amount of business cards, and are now working hard to sort out said cards. This experience taught them so much about food equity and gave some sage advice for gardening. It has also given them some inspiration as to who would make a great speaker at this year's summit.
The way in which a lot of the food is being produced right now is concerning, to say the least. The way in which mass food production is happening is stripping the soil of its nutrients and furthering climate change. Rooting DC provides a space to talk about food security and sustainability practices that are open and free to the public. The forum shows that there are people who care about gardening, even if sometimes it seems like no one carrots all.
All in all, Absa and Anna truly enjoyed the thyme spent there.
Told by Maddie Graham
It was New Year’s Eve. I was expecting company in less than an hour (closer to ten minutes, actually), I was covered in flour and cocoa powder (and more glitter than I care to mention), and Jordan McAuliff and I had just decided that we were going to organize visits to the offices of two Congressional representatives within the next two days.
I shook the flour out of my hair and got on my computer.
There wasn’t time to waste. Congress would resume January 3rd, and it was highly likely that on that day, they’d announce their decision regarding Representative Ocasio-Cortez’s Resolution for a Select Committee on a Green New Deal. This proposed committee would require all its members in Congress to reject money from fossil fuel lobbyists, and it would be tasked with developing a solid plan to stop the climate crisis by creating millions of jobs in clean energy by 2020. The Sunrise Movement had already held a Green Day of Action in support of the resolution, where people from around the country— mostly youth— visited Congress and lobbied their representatives to sign on, as well as mass protests in DC and in Nancy Pelosi’s California office demanding that the House Democrats back the resolution. But by January first, we and other activists across the country had only two days left to convince our representatives to sign on as well. We couldn’t visit offices on New Year’s Day, so these visits had to occur on the second.
We dropped messages into the Sunrise Slack, texted everyone we knew who’d ever come or had expressed interest in coming to a Sunrise action, and asked people to spread the word. On the day of the action, we texted last minute plans during our lunch period, while we ran around our school looking for paper to make posters with. We spent the best part of the period scribbling on to them “Green Jobs For All”s and “What’s Your Plan?” I personally don’t remember one second from the rest of that school day— my next memory is of the metro to DC. After a meandering walk from the train station to the House Office Buildings, we found ourselves standing between Longworth and Rayburn, making quick introductions, and dividing into lobby groups as some of us furiously finished writing out letters to the representatives. It was 4:40, and the building closed at 5:00. A frantic five minutes of pictures and final preparations later, my lobby group set off for Representative John Sarbanes’ office, while the other headed to Representative Jennifer Wexton’s. Show time.
We all internally rehearsed what we wanted to say as we walked through the clean, white, lemon-scented hallways of the Rayburn House Office Building. We fumbled with our letters as we passed clearly marked office after clearly marked office. A trip up a staircase, an elevator ride, a few twists and turns laid out by neatly labeled instructional signs, and we were there. Representative John Paul Sarbanes. Maryland. Please come in!
We took a collective deep breath, and then we were filing into the small, cramped office, gripping our letters tight.
Hello, we’d like to speak to the congressman, please?
The congressman wasn’t in, but we hadn’t truly expected him to be. We gave our letters and stories and hearts full of hope to the staffer who’d greeted us, and she promised to pass on the message. After thanking her and filing out of the office, we realized that the trip had been quicker and easier than expected. What’s more, the building showed no signs of closing soon, the offices were close together, and it seemed easy to visit a few more.
Our two groups ended up visiting a total of five congressional offices between us. Though we had run out of letters and handouts for the last three, we did have persistence, drive and a clear idea of what we wanted— and why we needed it.
A little past 5:30, we acknowledged, reluctantly, that the building really would close soon. We reconvened and, after snapping a few pictures, dispersed. We learned soon afterwards that the decision regarding the resolution had been made early.
Rather than choosing to implement a Select Committee on a Green New Deal, House Democrats had chosen instead to resurrect a committee from ten years ago: the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. It was a powerless shadow of a committee, without subpoena power or even a mandate to create a plan to combat climate change at the scale global experts say is needed. Furthermore, there would be no requirement that members of this other committee refuse money from fossil fuel lobbyists. That was a hard hit— but we didn’t have time to feel it. Our generation is out of time.
Throughout the planning and execution of these lobby visits, we realized again and again how formidable time can be. Our visits were conceived, organized, planned and executed at warp speed, because we had no other choice. The reality of the climate crisis is that, unless we stop it right now, it is going to cause mass destruction, poverty and tragedy for us all. Every day, our generation is told to sit down, to wait until we grow up a little, to go do homework and leave worrying to grown-ups for the time being.
We say absolutely not.
Top scientists give us twelve years to drastically cut our carbon emissions before the effects of climate change become irreversible— before everything we’ve done will have been in vain. The climate crisis will not wait for us to grow up, but that’s okay, because we are positively sick of waiting to grow up. Rather than wishing we had more time, we are going to use every available second to fight for a livable, sustainable future for all: to fight for the justice we know we need and we know we’re owed. The Select Committee hasn’t been created yet, but that’s okay.
2020 Presidential candidates are already starting to talk about the potential of a Green New Deal. Newspaper headlines across the country tell of a new generation of youth environmental activists. And organizers and activists are planning, dreaming and scheming to make sure that tomorrow is brighter and better. Representative Ocasio-Cortez’s resolution was the spark, and our generation is the kindling. We’ve grown into something powerful and unstoppable and beautiful— and we sure are glad we didn’t wait to grow up to do it.
I hate to admit it, but when our chemistry teacher first began to diverge from her scheduled lesson plan, I wasn’t paying much attention- it was Friday, at least I was in class. But when she mentioned that she wanted to start talking about some real world issues, I was suddenly wide awake- there was one real world issue I could think of with strong connections to chemistry. Sure enough, within twenty minutes we’d gotten the rundown on the climate crisis, and it was a lot worse than we’d known. Our teacher ended her lesson with a call to action- you’re young, she told us. You’re intelligent. You’re determined. Tell the world what you know. Make a video, a viral video. You can change the world!
We all left class that day with that unique, powerful feeling only new ideas can provide. Within a few days, I was creating a chat with a group of people in my chemistry class (and some who weren’t) who might be interested in doing something before the election to ask people to vote for environmentally friendly candidates. We didn’t know what we wanted to do or how we wanted to do it, but we knew we had to be fast. It was October, Election Day was just around the corner. We flew into the research stage, looking up the historical context of climate change as well as the expected future effects, reading whatever we could get our hands on. Before we knew what we were doing, we were drafting a script and planning a day to shoot- this was going to happen, and it was going to happen now.
The Friday of our shoot was hectic, a blur of camera angles and chocolate cupcakes and chasing after scripts lost to the wind. We were a bit worried (we hadn’t gotten mics, as we’d intended to), but we managed to coordinate about twenty-five people and film around twenty in two and a half hours. Our group chat didn’t quiet down all weekend- Monday couldn’t come fast enough. We counted the minutes until we could finally start editing.
However, when we actually sat down to edit, excitement started to turn to anxiety. Turns out the lack of mics was a bigger problem than we’d anticipated; some of our clips were so distorted by highway noise that they were nearly unusable. Nevertheless, we worked with what we had, coming in before school, during lunches, and after school to edit as fast as we could, occasionally talking our film and chemistry teachers into letting us use their class time. Within a week, we had a rough cut of our video, which quickly became a final cut. I remember the pure elation and relief we felt when the export bar finally crept its way to 100%... finally, we were finished. It was done... sort of.
Making a video won’t do much unless you get people to watch it. It had been shown at a meeting of our school’s Green Club, and 350moco had expressed interest in it, but we knew we needed to get it out to more people, and fast- Election Day was four days away. Within a few hours, everyone involved in the making of it had shared it, and gotten others to share it as well. We texted each other about new developments nearly hourly (“y’all! 1000 views!!!” “Yo we just got our first dislike, that means we’re reaching actual people!” “GUYS BILL MCKIBBEN TWEETED OUR VIDEO???”). By the time polls closed nationwide, we had over 2500 views- more than we’d ever expected to get. The product of three weeks of staying up past midnight was more than a video and a couple of inside jokes between our team- it was, we hoped, some awareness, some new understanding, for someone, somewhere, of one of the greatest issues plaguing our world today. Most of all, though, it was a realization among us that being sixteen didn’t make us powerless- if anything, it made us all the more powerful.
Climate change is an issue that we did not cause, but one that we are going to have to stop. A recently published IPCC report states that we have twelve years to change our ways- the days of hoping someone else will fix this are going to end, one way or another. This is not something we have to accept. It’s not something we can’t change. There is a paradigm of people who create change, and young people fit it perfectly.
Some of the greatest demonstrations in America’s history, from the Children’s Crusade to the March For Our Lives, have been organized by angry, intelligent and determined children and teenagers. These kids saw a problem and, realizing it was too important to wait to grow up before taking action, decided to do something about it. Was our video a national sensation? No. What it was, though, was the beginning of an emotional shift inside of all of us. It made us realize that being young was not a barrier, but an asset. Now is the time for action. Now is the time for change. We will not stop. We will continue to fight for what we know is right until we come of age, legally and figuratively- and we will see to it that the world is ready for us when we do.