Combating Climate Change
Written by ClimaTeens Nick Reisner and Sonia Mulgund
This is the first in a series of blogs by some of our ClimaTeens members.
What is ClimaTeens?
ClimaTeens is a group of about 40 teens who come from different backgrounds but are united by a common interest in combating climate change. The teens are invited to be in the program based on their past participation in Aquarium teen programs, such as live blueAmbassadors and the Teen Internship program. In ClimaTeens, we start the year by learning about various subjects related to climate change mitigation, such as climate science, community organizing, and how to talk about climate change. We then move on to developing and executing projects that bring climate change education to the community. The project we are working on this spring is funded by the Amplify Grant.
What is Amplify Grant?
In the early months of ClimaTeens, we applied for a grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council called the Amplify Grant. This grant is awarded to individuals or groups who want to impact their communities with projects with either musical or scientific elements. Our project is aimed toward creating a song that will inspire youth from around Greater Boston to go back to their own communities and create their own projects to mitigate climate change. Our project’s specific focus is on the importance of local food, along with urban gardens.
What have we done with the Amplify Grant so far?
Along with our biweekly meetings, ClimaTeens has engaged in many additional events. One such event is the GreenRoots ECO Youth Assembly. GreenRoots is a community-based organization focused on environmental justice, with a particular interest in youth leadership. Under this mission, the GreenRoots’ Environmental Chelsea Organizers (ECO) Youth Crew led the GreenRoots Youth Assembly, engaging more than 100 youth from around Greater Boston. At the assembly, youth, including seven ClimaTeens, were able to see the work of other groups from around Boston.
Sonia Mulgund, a ClimaTeen who attended the the GreenRoots Youth Assembly, says, “I found it really interesting to see the work other teens were doing around us to make change in their communities.”
Sonia was particularly interested by the work of the Beach Sisters, who are working to pass a plastic bag ban in the City of Lynn. The ClimaTeens were also able to share our work. ClimaTeens presented several activities, such as Sink or Source, an activity that has the participants guess what impact different things will have on carbon levels; Connect-It, in which participants try to correctly order a “comic strip” that details different actions we can take to help the environment; and Is It Eco-Friendly?, a game in which participants have to decide how different human interactions with the environment affect different settings, like land, air, and water.
Additionally, ClimaTeens had the opportunity to work with ZUMIX, a nonprofit organization focusing on youth activism and empowerment through music. In February, four ClimaTeens visited the ZUMIX headquarters in East Boston. There, ClimaTeens worked with the ZUMIX staff to create an original song from the ground up. ClimaTeens worked on the instrumental production, wrote a chorus and multiple verses, and constructed an original melody.
Sarah Knotts, one of the ClimaTeens who visited ZUMIX, was particularly enjoyed the supportive environment within Zumix/ “It was super cool to be in a space where I wasn’t afraid to make mistakes and could focus on creating something I am passionate about,” Sarah said.
What we are looking to do in the future?
At the conclusion of our project, we hope to have created multiple tabletop activities, a presentation about ClimaTeens, and a song. We will present this work at a series of events with the goal of inspiring other youth. One of these events is the Boston Latin School YouthCAN summit, held at MIT.
YouthCAN is a youth-run event centered around education on climate and sustainability. At the summit, we plan to present our workshop on the importance of local food and community gardens. We plan to present this same workshop at the New England Aquarium’s World Oceans Day celebration in June. We will also attend the Right Whale Festival in May.