When Margaret, Mikah, and Jake joined a 12 day global climate change program for high school students in Brattleboro, VT, they did it because they wanted to do more than talk about problems facing their generation.
“Climate change has always been one of the most important issues to me,” said Margaret Weinberg, an incoming senior at Brattleboro Union High School, but “I wanted to get out and actually act on these issues.”
Three weeks ago, they joined a group of 15 students who all shared that goal: to actually do something to fight climate change. They had heard about the US Chamber of Commerce’s dirty history of derailing climate policies and meddling in elections, and they decided to leverage their community to stop it.
One by one, the teenagers approached businesses in Brattleboro to ask them to sign up for the “US Chamber Doesn’t Speak for Me” campaign, until enough businesses had signed up to approach a bigger target: the Brattleboro Chamber of Commerce. Presented with a group of dedicated students backed by numerous local businesses, the Brattleboro Chamber agreed to disassociate publicly.
Jake Mekin, an incoming Junior at Coral Gables High Shcool in Miami, FL travelled all the way to Vermont from Miami for the program:
“I knew that climate change was bad, but over the last two weeks we got to talk about what we could actually do about it,” said Jake, “I joined the class because I wanted to do more than sit around and talk about problems.”
Micah Heany, a high school senior from Hartland, VT who attends The Sharon Academy continued,
“Not everyone agreed with us, but it felt really good, really empowering to be out there and doing something.”
At one business, the owner signed on immediately upon hearing that the students were working to gain support for action on cliamte change. Another business owner was more skeptical, and questioned what one little action like signing a pledge could do.
The students were ready for the question.
“If everyone makes just a little difference, we can make a huge change,” replied Micah.
They argued that we all have to try, that we all have to do our small part. The business owner was convinced, and signed the pledge.
In work fighting climate change, we can all get a little discouraged sometimes. This small group of students, encouraged by their professor John Ungerleider, decided on a goal, and then set out and achieved it.
Heartened by their win, many of the students are setting higher goals for round two.
Jake has returned home to Miami, FL and is plotting to continue his campaign there.
“Having the Brattleboro Chamber of Commerce sign up was the empowerment and motivation I needed to do the same here in