Taking climate justice home

Thursday, December 09, 2010

By Amanda Wake, Youth Organizer

As our friends and allies prepared to head to Cancún this month for the United Nations Climate Change Conference, ACRJ's  youth program SAFIRE worked to bring climate justice directly to youth organizing groups at home.

Working closely with our friend Ellen Choy of Check The Weather, SAFIRE created a workshop for youth on climate justice and our families. Last week, we went live!

You can check Ellen's page now for great live reports from Cancún, and take action now by signing this petition asking Obama to support real progress Cancún.

Meanwhile, here at home, SAFIRE met up with Bay Area youth from AYPAL, Chinese Progressive Association, and PODER. The SAFIRE girls facilitated activities about how climate change impacts all of our families.

We started by giving an introduction to climate change and how pollution warms the planet through the greenhouse effect. We then explained the domino effect climate change has on our families and communities. For example, the rising sea levels caused by melting glaciers will affect low-land communities the worst.

Another example is that droughts will make it harder on farmers and cause food prices to go up, which will impact low-income families the most. Several of the youth described living near freeways and factories and that many of them have asthma or have family members and friends who do. Bottom line is that communities of color and low-income communities are hit first and worst by climate change.

But it wasn't all negative. Each group also went over the many things youth can do to fight for climate justice for themselves, their families and their communities. Things like planting their own gardens, which means your saving money and you are not adding pollution to the air from your car traveling to the store or the truck that carries your food to the stores. In the garden you can also grow vegetables and fruits that are culturally important so you are preserving and passing down cultural tradition.

Another solution is being a loud unified voice of youth calling for climate justice. While corporations only think about money, the media leaves out reporting on how climate change impacts communities of color and low income communities and the US government refuses to take real action on reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. What's needed now is strong united voice for climate justice in the Bay Area and around the world.

In addition to facilitating activities, SAFIRE collected written and video recorded stories from all the youth we met with. It is rare that we hear from youth of color about how climate change and climate justice impacts their lives. This was a chance for them to tell their stories. Visit ACRJ's Strong Families page to learn more about our story collection project. This week we have our last workshop with POWER youth in San Francisco.

PODER and SAFIRE in solidarity

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