Its that time of year again. A time of planning, where things seem to quiet down. When we can begin to set goals for the new year and take time for reflection. It’s difficult to summarize 2019 in a short few paragraphs. It was so unbelievably busy and full.
The past couple of months kept me busy with activism, travels, teaching, stories, connections, new experiences and a ton of fun – But, they have also been filled with a lot of destruction, stress, and violence to our environment, communities, and to our future. Wildfires, droughts, desertification, school shootings, ocean acidification, new oil & gas projects and the Climate Crisis is wreaking havoc around the world. As a young activist that’s creating change and reaching large crowds – hate messages online and even occasionally in-person are becoming a normal part of my life. There’s a lot of pain… but there is hope, as well. There is love. And there is the opportunity for growth and change.
More and more people seem to be waking up and recognizing that it’s up to us right here and right now to do everything we can to ensure a livable future. So I’m choosing to focus on the light and the hope – which I’m not going to lie, can be really hard sometimes.
The Chasing Change media project started with the intention that by sharing stories and voices of youth, activists, and changemakers we would be able to help spread more hope in the world and inspire others to also take action. Here is what 2019 held for Chasing Change:
- January – February was when the planning and brainstorming for the year began – this meant a lot of google docs, mindmaps, phone calls, and sticky notes on the walls. I also started to work much more closely with the organization Earth Guardians.(EG) I started to attend more Global Youth Climate Strikes along with other friends. This was when I met my dear friend, Katia Bannister, who is the co-lead with me for the Cowichan Valley Earth Guardians Crew. In January, the Earth Guardian How-To-Guide on Permaculture, which I wrote the winter of 2018, was distributed to over 20,000 schools! (Link here). This is the first educational curriculum of this magnitude I have written and was quite an honor to share with so many other youth.
- March – April: Chasing Change really started to come together. I met Sol Zobrist at the Washington State Global Issues Network Conference (WAGIN) with the Operation Earth Guardian girls; Mia Eastman, Alex Trevino, and Marlow Baines. Sol and I instantly connected and became close friends. We then decided to collaborate on Chasing Change. At WAGIN, I also met the hosts of TEDxYouth Seattle and I decided to apply to speak!
- May – June: Some big adventures took place. In early May, Sol and I went to GERC (Global Earth Repair Conference) and interviewed many powerful changemakers. We taught a workshop, which went really well and told many people about Chasing Change. This was kind of like the unofficial launch of the project. Out of hundreds of videos and pictures, it’s hard to edit it all. Now, we are looking for an editor to help us! (If you know of any, please contact us!) At GERC we connected with many mentors and teachers as well – Here is Elizabeth Gaylen Baker interviewing Sol and I at GERC. After this life-changing week, I went back home to my community and hosted a big climate strike on May 17th! I had a photographer from Patagonia come and capture pictures of the strike and was featured in their magazine. (on pg 2-3 and 10) Then Sol went to India & Nepal. Click here for a little write up about her trip. She is planning to turn her footage into a short film about Climate Change in India and Nepal. The activist/musician Nahko Bear has agreed to let us use his music in it! (We need an editor to help with this project too!) After that, Sol worked with Class of 0000 and graduated grade 12 (interview 1 and interview 2).Then we traveled together to Boulder Colorado for the EG Youth Leader Training This was one of my greatest weeks ever!
Sol (left) and Sierra (right) leading a youth workshop at Global Earth Repair
Photo By: Hannah Apricot Eckberg
- July – August. We were able to spend time in nature, and with family and friends. We still had some meetings for Chasing Change, but the focus in our lives was mainly our mental health, self-love, and the relationships in our lives. At the end of August, Sol left Orcas Island to attend Quest University in Canada.
- September – October were the two busiest months of my year. I spent most of my time in Seattle with friends, writing and finalizing my TEDx talk, and memorizing it with the speaker’s coaches. In mid- September, a large group of my Earth Guardians (EG) friends and I gathered in SanFrancisco for the Planet Home Conference. We taught workshops alongside performers like Snoop Dog and Bill Nye. It was a crazy-busy week. On September 20th -27th 2019, a record 7.6 million people took to the streets around the world to strike for climate action in the biggest climate mobilization in history. In my small hometown on Vancouver Island, I helped lead over 1,200 people in a Climate Strike with the Cowichan Valley EG crew. An interview that I did with My Climate Story was published and Sol started working with an organization called My Sea to Sky protesting to stop the Woodfibre LNG project in Squamish. On October 25th the Youth Climate Lawsuit (La Rose et. al. v. Her Majesty the Queen) was officially launched. As one of the 15 Canadian youth litigants/plaintiffs on the case, I stood on stage with Greta Thunberg, David Suzuki, Severn Cullis-Suzuki and many others there in support of the lawsuit. This was one of the biggest and busiest days of my life! The case was covered by almost every big news and media channel in Canada. It is Canada’s first federal youth climate lawsuit and its goal is to protect our charter and public trust rights. Our Children’s Trust and David Suzuki Foundation are the two main organizations supporting it. Watch this CTV interview. After months of preparation, on October 27th, I presented my talk “Beyond Sustainable: A call for Regeneration,” at TEDx Youth Seattle. It was an amazing experience.
Photo By: Mary Sciscente Bonilla
- November – December: Chasing Change has been going through a big stage of growth and redefinition. We have been working on building up the team, planning, and figuring out how we’re going to accomplish our goals. The future of this project is looking bright and exciting. We need an affordable film editor to join the team, and we are creating a show pitch to share with production companies. Yep, look out Netflix, Nat Geo, and Patagonia. We’re coming for you!
2020 promises to be another exciting year for Chasing Change. If you would like to support this youth-led project through mentorship, connections, or donations, please be in touch!
In order to be able to create real change in the world, we as a global community need to better connect with and support each other – we need to create more safe spaces. You are invited to join these efforts and knit a stronger youth activism network around the world. We are working to create a platform called Chasing Change This will be a network to share stories, discover answers to the pressing questions of today while documenting our journey of discovery and growth along the way.