Climate Voices

March 10, 2022
By: Climate Generation

Centering Antiracism through Partnership

Centering Antiracism through Partnership - Photo

Since 2006, Climate Generation has focused on solutions to climate change through education, storytelling, and youth leadership.

As the climate crisis has evolved over the last 15 years, so have we. To truly realize our vision — a world of resilient communities with equitable solutions to climate change — we look to our strategic plan focusing on personalizing and localizing climate change, centering antiracism, and overcoming disinformation.

More than ever before, the environmental movement is undergoing a reckoning of racial injustice, and we know we must meet the moment with intention. Our network of partnerships are helping us center antiracism through climate justice solutions and both teach and learn from others in the climate justice movement. Together, we want to map out the reality that climate justice is racial justice. Take a look at how we’re doing this work through the stories of our partners and how their climate justice work has intersected with ours.

Antiracism and Youth Activism

Antiracism is an inherent part of the climate movement because climate change is an intersectional issue that disproportionately impacts BIPOC and lower income communities. For Jennifer Garcia Flores, a student leader in our Youth Environmental Activists (YEA!) program, climate justice means unpacking the easily identifiable impacts of climate change to uncover who is most affected.

Garcia Flores reminds us that climate change isn’t “a 2-D issue” and people often forget the real people impacted by climate-caused natural disasters they hear about on the news, like islands drowning in the Pacific half a globe away. Climate justice calls for countries who have done the most to contribute to rising global emissions to support communities who have done little to cause the climate crisis but are bearing the brunt of the impacts.

In the short time Garcia Flores has been a member of YEA!, she has discovered her interest and passion for environmental justice and is already working on the planning team with other youth organizing this year’s Youth Climate Justice Summit at the end of February. At the summit, youth across the nation and around the world had a chance to learn from climate justice experts and meet with legislators.

Climate Justice Conversations with Ecorise

Abby Randall, Deputy Director of Ecorise, one of our national climate change education partners, echoes Garcia Flores’ sentiments.

“The way we talk about climate change often focuses on the impacts on the earth, climate justice focuses on the impacts on the people.” – Abby Randall, Deputy Director of Ecorise.

Ecorise has been a cohort leader for our Summer Institute on Climate Change Education, supporting the program in the Texas region, and we have been honored to share in their climate justice work collaboratively. Through this partnership we have engaged in difficult conversations around representation in climate change education. During these difficult conversations, we learn and grow together, understanding how to better serve educators teaching climate change to youth of all ages.

At Climate Generation, we utilize a model of work built on partnerships, networks, and collaboration. This model has encouraged us to have difficult conversations on antiracism and climate justice not just with Ecorise, but with all of our Summer Institute cohort leaders. This environment of collaboration around a common goal has shaped our work and how we communicate both internally and externally.

“It’s really scary to engage in those conversations with your peers, and I think that’s been a powerful experience for us knowing that we can have that dialogue and can affect change in other organizations and other organizations can affect change in the way that we do things,” said Randall.

Climate Literacy at Hamline

As the Program Director of the Master of Arts in Environmental Education at Hamline University, Dr. Patty Born Selly has had practice having difficult conversations with peers in her field. In partnership with Climate Generation’s education team, Hamline University now offers a Climate Literacy Certificate available to all graduate students that includes classes on climate justice, climate policy, and climate change education.

Through our partnership with Dr. Born Selly and the other faculty and staff at Hamline University, we have seen first hand how having justice-centered conversations better equips educators to teach climate change.

“Working with Climate Generation has really helped open my eyes to the fact that so many more people are directly impacted by climate change than just people who live far away,” explained Dr. Born Selly. “We all are, to some degree, but people in Black and brown communities are feeling it in ways that the rest of us are not.”

Climate justice is a vital aspect of how we do our work at Climate Generation. Through coalition and conversation we teach and learn from partners in the movement to advance climate justice, imperfectly yet intentionally. We are emboldened and encouraged to have powerful youth activists, visionary leaders, and knowledgeable educators standing side-by-side with us in centering antiracism in all of the work we do.