The Youth Democracy Summit on January 17th was an extremely powerful and motivating experience. It was inspiring to see such a multitude of strong, smart, and driven young organizers all in one place. Going to the small-group panel on sustainable transportation in the 21st century was interesting to me because I was able to gain a perspective on the transportation issues that are present in greater Minnesota. Growing up in Minneapolis, I have always had many different transportation options available to me. I have the luxury of great bike lanes and bus routes that can efficiently get me anywhere in the city. People living in places like Mankato or Duluth don’t have those options, which then becomes an equity issue. I wasn’t aware of these things until we discussed them in a group with people living all around the state.
Despite many being under the legal voting age, a contingent of high school youth gathered at Governor Dayton’s office on Friday November 21st to deliver over 1,000 public comments and photo petitions in support of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan before the December 1 comment deadline. The students, part of the Will Steger Foundation’s YEA! MN high school program, joined MPIRG and Minnesota Interfaith Power & Light to thank Governor Dayton for his clean energy leadership and urge him to keep Minnesota on track for further carbon reductions as required by the Clean Power Plan.
On November 8th, 2014, 120 youth gathered at El Colegio High School in South Minneapolis to discuss pressing issues of climate justice and community organizing. With workshops on diverse topics such as Intersectionality, Climate Change, and Aquaponics, this event helped me understand the problems as well as the resources within our community. Overall, YouthCAN! was a great place to learn about climate justice and meet others engaging in community action around this subject.
Back in June, the YEA!MN steering committee and I took our year-end retreat to the Lake Country Land School in Wisconsin. We came up with lots of big plans for our projects during the 2014-2015 school year, one of which was the Youth Climate Action Now! (Youth CAN!) conference. At the time, it was hard to picture what the event would look like and how we would go about making it happen. But many hours of hard work by the planning committee payed off, culminating in an empowering conference on November 8th that exceeded all of our expectations.
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