This past Saturday we hosted our 11th annual youth summit on climate change and sustainability, in cooperation with Boston Latin School's YouthCAN, led by teacher/advisor Cate Arnold. The Stata buildling was full of energized young people, eager to learn about climate change and, more importantly, how to become more effective activists. Indeed, these young people (and the billions around the globe) are inheriting an environmental legacy that is daunting. However, despite the challenges, these young people are ready to fight. Working with MIT students is always inspiring,; however there is something incredibly moving and poignant about seeing a 13-year-old completely and entirely engaged in learning about effective activism; or going deeper into the science; or learning how to talk about climate change to skeptics in a calm and informed manner.
The day was filled with opportunities to learn and grow and these 225+ young people jumped in. All workshops had enthusiastic participants although some of the most popular workshops had to be "closed" due to size limitations. This included a workshop taught by FFMIT's own Patrick Brown whose workshop on the future of energy filled up faster than any other workshop. Patrick reported that he had an engaged and interested audience and that he had a great time teaching the workshop. A HUGE thanks to Patrick for this and for all he does for the MIT community.
Other workshops included Climate & Public Health, Climate Change & Animal Conservation: One Future for All Living Things, Strengthening Local Food Systems, Tackling Climate Change Through Social Entrepreneurship & Responsible Consumerism, Climate Reality, Solutions & A Plan for Action, How Fossil Fuel Divestment is Re-framing the Narrative of Climate Change, and Climate & Social Justice. Our keynote speaker, Mariama White Hammond, delivered a powerful message about youth activism and sustainability based on the extensive work she has done in the Boston community inspiring young change-makers. She spoke about the necessity of pursuing social justice as a central element of any and all sustainability work and her words were eloquent and inspiring.
For me, that would be the theme of the day: Inspiring. Events such as this provide the energy needed to push ahead and not give in to despair. Rather, it gives one the inspiration to stay engaged and involved and follow the lead of these amazing young people.