Youth Empowered By Brower

San Francisco, Wednesday, October 24-

At the press conference for the Brower Youth Award 2007 recipients, there were only a few other people in the attendance. But right away I recognized Lesley Nagy from Your Green Life, the 90-second eco-news segment on Your TV20. That was probably the closest I’d ever been to a celebrity…that is, until I saw Q’Orianka Kilcher, the star of the movie The New World opposite big names like Colin Farrell and Christian Bale. One of the five recipients of the environmental award, she didn’t try to stand out or get special treatment. In fact, the one recipient that did stand out to me was a non-celebrity from the Bay Area. Twenty-one year old Rachel Barge, a student at University of California, Berkeley, crafted and passed The Green Initiative Fund, a fee of $5 per student per semester to go towards campus sustainability projects. What struck me about her was the simplicity and practicality of her program. As a member of the Environmental Club at my high school, I hoped that attending the press conference would inspire some ideas I could apply to my own life and school. Rachel’s ideas did just that, so when we started the personal interviews, I went right for her. After talking to her, I realized how easy she made being green sound.

Next I talked to Jon Warnow, a techie responsible for the creation of Step it Up 2007, a website that coordinated over 1,400 rallies across the country for a National Day of Climate Action. The interview was going well, until my relative newbie-ity took hold of the interview. Or, should I say, took hold of the mic. I engaged in a mic-holding war with the interviewee, as I asked my question and held the mic up to Jon, he suddenly took hold of it like a fat kid takes hold of a cupcake. In my timidity, I surrendered the mic and let him hold it through all of his responses, only to be admonished later by my nameless superiors.

Last, I interviewed Erica Fernandez, a southern Californian who stood up against a 36-inch pipeline that was to be routed through low-income neighborhoods, schools, and businesses in Oxnard and Malibu with a testimonial at the California State Lands Commission. While interviewing her, I found myself asking a lot of questions about how she dealt with adults in positions of power who were the determining factor in whether her project could move forward.

Now, when I’ve tried to call the attention of adults to issues that are important to me, even if it’s as simple as getting my parents to understand recycling and organic waste at home, I’ve encountered a lot of setbacks. Because we are the generation that has been confronted face-to-face with global warming and other environmental crises, previous generations seem lacking in their passion for conservation. Or maybe they’re not lacking, but rather, we are brimming with activism and a call for change. If I gained one thing from attending the event, it’s reassurance that there are other young people out there who are passionate about the environment.

~Caitlin Grey


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