By Tali Smookler
Despite the name, “Climate Summer” is much more than a summer; it continues throughout the year. Most recently, I participated in a very Climate Summer-ish activity: presenting. However, unlike the usual presentation, in this case I presented to children at an elementary school who are starting a club called “Kids Taking Action” (KTA), in which they, with adult guidance, discuss and implement ways they can help the environment in their communities and schools through projects, education, and action.
I presented the usual routine about the climate crisis, about our bicycling, our summer adventure, all the while making it fun for the students. I was very impressed with the extent of their knowledge about climate change and the dangers it puts us in. For example, one student spent about 3 minutes talking about the origins of climate change and how it could destroy the earth. Many understood the importance of recycling. I was inspired at what these students knew; in grades K-5, they know more than I did only a few years ago.
Like many of our summer experiences, in this case, the students and I were inspiring each other. Over the summer, community members repeatedly told us how much of an inspiration we were. Yet from our perspective, those taking action in the towns were the inspiration; while we were bicycling through the towns, they were the ones who continually worked in that town and made the changes in their communities. It was a perpetuating cycle of inspiration. With Kids Taking Action, the students were motivated by our journey, while I was inspired by their creative ideas and enthusiasm in taking action in their community and school to help the environment.
As I continue throughout this year to become more involved with SJSF and people in the climate movement, I am humbled by the dedication and passion demonstrated by people of all ages taking actions in whatever way they can. At the Pricing Carbon Conference at Wesleyan University (Nov. 19-21), SJSF members held a Student Conference of the Parties (SCOP), at which we drafted a Declaration of Clean Energy that we presented to world leaders at the COP in Cancun. At the conference, I had the rare opportunity to see so many people in the movement from all walks of life come together in solidarity to discuss climate issues in depth. The next day, I had the chance to see this passion for action on a different level: by children. Though Kids Taking Action is a local student initiative, their actions are powerful; not only do they have the power to act and make change in their communities, but by doing so they also inspire adults, college students, and leaders to continue to do the same. As I said in my presentation, you never know how far your actions will take you. The movement that we need can only take shape once each of us is willing to make the changes that we need in our own lives.