110 New Ambassadors for Climate Justice: Seattle Plant-For-The-Planet

originally published by J. Crapper on Nov 6th  http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/11/06/1251345/-Plant-for-the-Planet-Growing-But-Let-s-Add-Fertilizer

I first wrote about Plant for the Planet back on September 10, 2013.  Since then things have been happening very quickly. On May 24th 2013 in Seattle the first academy on the west coast trained 80 young students from 13 schools  . On Saturday, October 26, 2013 two more academies were organized for students from 26 Seattle area schools.   I volunteered at one of them and it was an uplifting and enlightening experience.

I witnessed:

Students 8 to 14 years old standing up in front of other students of the same age speaking with knowledge, clarity, passion and confidence about climate change.

Speaking with knowledge and confidence.

Kids showing other kids pictures of young people their age in other countries shaking hands with world leaders, pop stars, and famous actors and actresses. Young people showing pictures of themselves speaking in front of city councils, mayors and crowds numbering in the thousands.

I spoke to an eleven year old girl waiting in line to take the stage to present her portion of the presentation.  She looked me in the eye and said, “I’m a born leader.”  She then took the stage and confidently delivered her message to the crowd.

A parent volunteer who told me she at first was not excited about being involved but her daughter’s enthusiasm had convinced her to get involved. She was so thankful.

Young people in the crowd boldly questioning and offering solutions to Washington State Representative Jamie Pedersen who dropped by to show his support and share ideas.

Washington St. Rep., 43rd District fielding questions.

The day brought back fond memories of when I was a Middle School teacher.As a former Middle School teacher, with ten years experience teaching 5th, 6th and 7th grade, this academy reminded me of an elective I was allowed to develop and teach at Ruamrudee International School in Bangkok, Thailand called Teacher’s Aide.  The elective introduced students to the field of teaching, gave them their own students to teach and the responsibility to design lesson plans, develop and administer tests, and give their students a grade entered into their official school record.  All this was under the guidance of me as their elective teacher.  It was extremely successful and both I and the administration were amazed at how mature, dedicated and effective the student teachers were with their own students.

In these Academies, much of the same is going on. Children who have already been trained in previous Academies, give speeches to a new group of children to teach them about the climate crisis and train them as “Ambassadors for Climate Justice”. Through group work and presentations the children are taught about climate justice and they also learn how to present these ideas to others in a confident and exciting way.

Michael Foster is the force behind this rapidly growing organization in the United States.  His main focus is seeding the Plant for the Planet  children’s initiative to other places as quickly as possible.  He argues effectively that children have the most to lose and hold the greatest sway with parents, inducing their involvement in the issue. I’m trying to help him out.  In Michael Foster’s own words:

Six years doesn’t seem like enough time to plant 1,000 billion trees, or to organize wealthy nations into paying impoverished nations for being green. But this volunteer-driven children’s movement is by far the most hopeful thing I’ve come across in 25 years of global warming news. How many environmental organizations have a 3-Point Plan to reverse global warming posted on their website? Simple and clear: 1 trillion trees by 2020, combat global poverty, and end carbon emissions. They’ve counted 12.6 billion trees planted in the last few years. That’s a start! Child Ambassadors hold absolute moral authority because when we grownups are gone, they’ll still be here. These children can change the conversation on climate from ‘whether it is happening’ to ‘What are you doing to protect my future? What are you doing today to stop global warming?’

I want every kid in the USA to have a chance to experience an Academy, to learn to speak out for the future they will inherit, while it’s still possible to make a huge difference.

Today the children need volunteers all across the country. What does it take to host an Academy for 80 students? People. Parents, retired teachers, college students, anybody can organize a day-long workshop for local kids in every town all over the USA. Let’s get a competition going to plant more trees.

We need our kids to tell us, ‘Stop wrecking my planet, right now!’ I know parents will listen when their kids say, ‘We shouldn’t drive that big SUV. I don’t think the earth can afford it. Maybe we should plant a thousand trees instead.’

Parents know we have to change our ways but we don’t want to short-change our children now, so we try not to think about it. But we’re failing our children treat them to a comfy life now, but don’t think ahead for them.

Foster uses the Photo Album test,

Imagine, looking back through a photo album in 20 years. The very things parents do today to privilege our children — pay for big vacations, big toys, a bigger house — these are the very things that our children are going to look back on in horror a few short years from now and say to us, ‘how could you do that, when you knew that Life was at stake?’

History of  Plant for the Planet (adapted from website)

In January 2007, a German boy, 9-year-old Felix Finkbeiner founded The Plant-for-the-Planet Children´s Initiative . While researching a climate project for school, Felix grew inspired by Wangari Maathai, who planted 30 million trees in Africa. In his class presentation, Felix ended by saying that he thought children could plant one million trees in each country of the world.

Since then Plant-for-the-Planet has grown into a worldwide movement.  By the start of 2011 there were children participating in more than 93 countries.  It has trained over 19,000 children from all over the word and that number is increasing rapidly.The United States has been a late comer to this children’s movement but that is about to change.  The ripples Michael Foster started are beginning to feel like waves!  He’s looking for others to assume the role he’s taken on in Seattle.

The program has all the elements to be successful and spread quickly.  Here’s why:

Engaged in the World games.

1.  It involves those most affected by climate change – young people.  It provides them with the knowledge and leadership skills necessary to carry the message to their peers,  parents, teachers, politicians and community business leaders.2.  Peers listen to other peers.  It’s the power of peer pressure put to work.

3.  It involves parents with their kids future and educational development.  It motivates them to get involved in climate change action as a result of that involvement.  It is hard to ignore your children.

4.  It involves teachers always looking for creative and innovative opportunities to engage their students in order to teach them valuable skills such as leadership and public speaking.

5.  It involves politicians.  It is hard to ignore a young person knocking on your door or asking you a question if you are a public figure. They know if they do their parents, whom they need to vote for them, will not forget.

Participants learning about properly planting a tree.

6.  It involves community business leaders always looking for good PR opportunities in order to portray  a caring partner image to their community of customers.

7.  It attracts the press.  Young people doing amazing things always attracts the cameras.

8.  And finally, and most importantly, it gives all involved a tangible, realistic way to get involved and move forward with a feeling of hope and empowerment.

To begin the process of organizing your own Academy the best place to start is at the Plant for the Planet website.  Here are some key places to visit.

1.  Suggested flyer and schedule for Academy (template).

2.  Pictures to choose from for slideshow presentation (power point) (takes some time to load but worth the wait). These pictures are used as visual aides to assist students oral presentations.

3.  Ideas and detailed information on how to get the ball rolling in your community.

Other resources:

1.  Announcement used for Seattle Academies

2.  Seattle Plant for the Planet press kit

3. Seattle Plant for the Planet flyer

This is a YES WE CAN program bubbling with the optimism that only youth can bring to the table.  We need that energy in the environmental movement.  It’s time to Stop Talking and Start Planting.  It’s time we join and assist in any way we can these young Ambassadors for Climate Justice.

Ambassadors for the climate.

Michael Foster: A mental health therapist and father in Seattle. Mike always had an interest in the impacts humans have on the health and welfare of our planet. From his childhood in Texas, where he grew up in the shadow of oil refineries, he has always been aware that we have the ability and the obligation to be positive stewards for the Earth – not just for ourselves, but for future generations.

Mike is a speaker for the Climate Reality project, the Al Gore initiative, and volunteers his time to present “The Slide Show” to any and all interested groups. His particular focus is exploring the ways that families can work together to reverse global warming and create a sustainable future.

Michael Foster is ready to help anybody interested in organizing and conducting their own Academy.

Video: Seattle Climate Justice Ambassadors “Draw The Line”

Do you want to help future generations speak? Hear what they have to say. And Click Here to view the entire hour of inspirational speakers.

The Green Boat by Mary Pipher

 

Mary Pipher's new book is a wonderful description of the trauma, anxiety, joy and comfort of facing the impossible by coming together to take action against the odds.
Mary Pipher’s new book is a wonderful description of the trauma, anxiety, joy and comfort of facing the impossible by coming together to take action against the odds.

 

Living on Earth: Saving Ourselves- The Green Boat

Click on the link above to listen to “Living On Earth” radio interview with Mary Pipher, best-selling author of Reviving Ophelia, as she describes her inspiring journey into activism, and discusses her new book, The Green Boat, Reviving Ourselves in Our Capsized Culture. In her interviews, her actions, and in her book, she says it much better than I can, so check your speaker volume and tune in.

A grandmother herself, Mary Pipher turns her attention to the psychological roots of our difficulty in facing and addressing climate change, and to her own struggle against despair, trying to cope with the impending loss of everything we care for, which led her to take action in her community.

 

Now enjoy Video (below) of the Grandmothers Apple Pie Brigade, a group Mary Pipher helped found with her friends and neighbors to take on the Keystone XL pipeline when it came to her home in Nebraska. An unlikely group of activists comes together to spread a unifying vision of what makes home.

They Matter (VIDEO)

A beautiful, moving video from the iMatter Earth Day March back in April, reminding us to love our kids, and our only home. Our children have some strong words for us to hear and honor. They depend on us to protect their future.

The children were protesting the proposal to expand coal exports through Seattle and the Northwest from 2 – 3 trains per day to 18 – 37 trains per day, so Peabody Coal can sell it as quickly as possible to Asia for the next few years. The additional CO2 emissions will more than equal the emissions from the Keystone XL pipeline if allowed.

Our PBS station created a wonderful documentary, COAL. Here’s a preview:

Solstice Parade “Procession For Our Future” Needs You to Stop A Coal Train!

Sign up for the parade or to make art here! for the “Procession for our Future” coal train vs. sustainable energy ensemble in the Fremont Summer Solstice Parade! Please join us for a workshop, the parade, or both!
Next Art Workshop is on  Saturday, June 1st 3:00-7:00 at the Powerhouse: 3940 Fremont Ave N. 
Inline image 1  Inline image 3
This ensemble will have a coal train driven by skull masked people that transforms into beautiful murals when we implore the audience to help us stop it (photos above, but no words or letters will be allowed in the parade). There will be windmill stilters, and windmill props to carry, solar panel costumes, a tide turbine with people dressed as water making it move, animal masked and otherwise dressed up kids of all ages, beautiful fluttering butterflies, boats, flags and banners, herring and salmon puppets, a band, and more! You and your families are welcome to join us to create more art and to be in the parade!  
 
Save these dates:
Saturday, June 1, 3:00-7:00 at the Powerhouse: 3940 Fremont Ave N.
Monday, June 10th, 4:00-9:00 at the Powerhouse: 3940 Fremont Ave N.
Saturday, June 15th, Workshop and Rehearsal 10:00-4:00 at Sierra Club: 180 Nickerson St #202 (parking lot) 
Saturday, June 22nd Parade 3:00 in Fremont (be there by 1:30)
 
More information about the Art Workshop is below.
Inline image 4  Inline image 5  

Drop in to the art workshop any time, and stay as long as you’re having fun! Your contribution will be instrumental, so we invite you to be as much a part of it as you can! Even if you can’t join the parade, please come make art with us! Youth and adults welcome! (parents needed to help your younger kids.) 

What we’ll be doing: People of all ages will make paper mache puppet masks, cut out and folded-paper masks, paint windmills and solar panels, small flags with sun block prints in two colors on fabric, and more flags with drawings in fabric crayons. Teens, tweens, and adults will paint the last train car frames and perhaps rain barrels, and boat costumes on boxes. We’ll expand outside in clear weather.

Supplies we still need, please let us know if you have any:
primer latex paint
approximately 1″ diameter by 8′ to 10′ long bamboo poles for the windmills
top hats (for train conductors – will get stapled to skull masks)
large cardboard boxes roughly 2x2x3, 2x4x2, 2x2x4, 3x3x5, etc. (for buildings, boats, barrels for people to wear for costumes)
small bamboo or other stakes about 2′ lengths (for flags)
recycled or extra fabrics (for animal and bird costumes, sails, etc.)
yarn, raffia, trim, feathers, and ribbon (for the masks an costumes)
what else do you have that you think would make great costumes or props?
 
We’ll have a snack table, so please bring something to share!
 
 
This ensemble is supported in part by a grant from the Fremont Arts Council to create costumes and props. Additional images supplied by the Backbone Campaign and local artists.
 
Check out other great opportunities to get involved in the parade and learn skills here: http://fremontartscouncil.org/
 
Hope to see you soon!

Youth expresses her concern for the environment

DOWNLOAD 

Ta’Kaiya Blaney (Credit: Catherine Crouch)

reposted from United Nations Radio

Ta’Kaiya Blaney is a 12 year old from the Sliammon First Nation in Canada. Listen to her short interview for United Nations Radio here:

Ta’Kaiya, who is participating in this year’s session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues from 20 to 31 May, says our earth is our home.

She told the Forum that everyone needs to take steps towards a clean and healthy future regarding animals, humans, plants, and ecosystems.

Ta’Kaiya tells Gerry Adams about her concerns for the well-being of her community and her plans to solve some of the problems created by a treaty which she says discriminates against indigenous people.

Duration: 4’32”

Tar Sands Action Week

Northern Boreal Forest before and after Tar Sands Oil strip-mining
The “Lungs of the earth”absorb 3x more CO2 than the Amazon rainforest Abruptly transformed into industrial wastelands

All across the nation this week, activists like you will stand up to the companies that profit from building the Keystone XL pipeline. Stay engaged and find a blockade action you can support! Every voice counts. Make yours loud and clear. Show up for an event this week!

Follow the link to Tar Sands Blockade where you will find the actions map. Learn how you can support local groups to stop the Keystone XL Pipeline during this national week of action. Dr. James Hansen states that if the pipeline is approved, it’s “game over” for the climate. If we want to sustain life on earth, we cannot afford to burn the oil and gas we already drilled, much less if we speed up strip-mining this filthiest fuel, and build new infrastructure to burn more of it faster. Look at these photos of Alberta tar sands mining. This is the stuff we use to drive cars now? It’s easy to imagine why this carbon-dense bitumen mining really will tip us over the edge, unless we do everything we can to stop it today!

http://www.tarsandsblockade.org/weekofaction/

Athabasca River 2
The Athabasca River in Canada, one of the world’s largest wilderness watersheds, and now home to Tar Sands strip-mining, shown here as it has been and will be for thousands of years. If we will only leave the tar sands in the ground.

“Leave it in the ground!”

Bringing Plant For The Planet to Seattle

In my slideshow for The Climate Reality Project I have introduced audiences in Seattle to the inspiring work of Felix Finkbeiner in Germany, who founded Plant For The Planet a few years ago.

I want to bring an Academy here so that our kids can take the training, learn how to train other kids, become skilled in organizing and fundraising, understand climate justice, and finally HELP PLANT A TRILLION TREES! That’s right, Trillion with a T and that stands for Trees! The only Trouble is finding a corporate sponsor for the event.

If you know of someone who works at one of the big companies in Seattle, please call me and let’s talk about sponsorship of this Academy training event. Help me make contact with a sponsor and we will get this group to come to Seattle this year!

This kind of reforestation is called the 2nd Solution to global warming. Since our CO2 level is way beyond the safe limit, we need more trees to rapidly reabsorb all that excess carbon. Reforesting areas that have been deforested in the last century would put us back on a path our kids can live with. Felix and the kids who run Plant For The Planet are hard at work planting trees right now.

The 1st Solution is reducing CO2 emissions 8% a year starting in 2013. We need to get started now on Solution #1, then we’ll see all the benefits of solution #2 as kids around the world plant millions of trees in their home countries. When those trees start soaking up more and more pollution, we’ll be so grateful. And it will change the course of history.

If we do both of these things, reduce pollution and massive reforestation of lands, by the end of our kids’ lifetimes at the end of this century, our planet just might get back to a climate something like in the 1980’s. It’s going to be a hot century, but if we do everything we can right away to avoid the most dangerous planetary impacts, our kids and their kids’ kids have a pretty good chance at avoiding total catastrophe for the next century. Sounds like a good bet to me even if the odds are long ! I’d rather bet on the side of helping plant more trees and go to bed each night knowing, “I’m doing the best I can.” Always.

Because of Felix and young people all over the world, we are already well on our way!

Over 12.6 billion trees have been planted so far. Check out Plant for the Planet .

Declaration of Independence from Fossil Fuels

Alec Loorz, founder of kids vs. global warming, wrote this new Declaration as a teenager. For the last few years he has been collecting signatures of youth from across the country and delivering them to congress each year. You can read the text here, and then go to iMatteryouth.org to Sign the document online and your signature will get delivered this year to Washington D.C., along with thousands of others calling for climate justice now!

When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to rid themselves of an energy system that has been found to threaten their lives and liberties, it is only decent that they should declare the causes of separation from the dependence on Fossil Fuels.

We, the youth of these United States, know that some truths are self-evident: that all people are created Equal and that they have certain inalienable Rights: especially the right to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Because of our addiction to fossil fuels, the Earth has been pushed out of balance and suffers from Global Warming.  The effects of that warming include extreme weather shifts, more frequent natural disasters, melting ice caps and glaciers, global sea level rise, diminishing food and water supplies, and habitat loss.  These problems put the Children of this and every Nation, thousands of entire Species of animals and plants, and Future Generations in danger of losing their rights to Life, Liberty and Happiness.

So, when the burning of fossil fuels has been shown to cause Global Climate Change, it is time for those most affected to stand up and to demand change. We call for change from our cities, our states, and from our Nation.  And we commit to change ourselves.

Therefore, We, the youth of the United States of America, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of this Country, solemnly publish and declare, that we, as a Community, ought to be Free and Independent from lifestyles and forms of energy that cause Global Climate Change.

We Implore our Leaders to build of a Secure Future, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent People may of right do to build a more Sustainable and Just Society. And for the support of this Declaration, we mutually pledge our Commitment, our Passion and our sacred Struggle for Equality and Justice.