A Student Project on Climate Change

My wide-world environmental work continues to expand. I recently organized a contest in which local high school students were invited to submit videos, three to ten minutes in length, showing the seriousness of the situation humankind is facing due to climate change but also leaving viewers hopeful about working toward solutions.

We received entries from about a hundred students, ninety-seven percent of them Latinas/os. The students showed great creativity in their designs, formats, and approaches to the topic. They worked hard to grasp the science and express it clearly to a student audience, an adult audience, or both.

The videos were not polished professional pieces, but they conveyed important messages in creative formats. We are encouraging the students to edit them further. You can view the videos on my blog: . (There have been issues with public criticism, and some students have marked their videos private. I’m working on handling that.)

Here’s a bit from my introduction to the contest—an attempt to hold out perspectives from our RC goal on the environment:1 “A few years ago I learned enough about climate change to realize that it would be the most critical issue of my lifetime. I decided that I would do everything I could think of to stop climate change and build a better future for my children, and people everywhere. This contest grew out of that decision. It’s one action toward my goal of seeing to it2 that everyone in our community becomes fully informed about the potential impacts of climate change and inspired to take action to secure the best possible outcome.”

The Watsonville (California, USA) Public Library hosted a showcase of the videos as part of a series on climate change: Living in a Changing World, Working Toward a Better Future: The Challenges and Opportunities of Global Warming. For a month, a display in the library entry featured the title of the series, some inspiring quotes I’d contributed about confronting climate change, some climate-change facts and action ideas, and a list of organizations and research sites that people could take.

Here’s what I said at the showcase to give a young people’s liberation perspective: “Many people say that youth are tomorrow’s leaders. Young people may well be leaders tomorrow, but I say that they are leaders today! Let’s hear it for3 their leadership and creativity! I want to recognize each and every student who entered the contest—it’s a brave step to gather thoughts, organize them, record them, and send them out into the world for others to receive. Students: Please don’t stop here; keep raising your voices and recording your thoughts. Set your minds toward solving the climate crisis. Together we can!”

During the showcase we stopped twice to encourage people to talk to others about (1) what they’d learned, what unanswered questions they had, and whom they could start a conversation with about climate change, and (2) what they could do to help solve the crisis and what was in the way of their taking action.

Students spoke at the end about how much they had learned about climate change by participating in the contest and how little they had known before.

These were my closing remarks: “We are living at an incredible point in history, with technology at our fingertips that allows communication and coordination on a global scale. We are also the last people who can potentially stop the worst impacts of climate change. Taking action to preserve life will not only lead to a better future, it will create a better life now for more people. The destruction of the environment is driven by social oppression and human irrationality. Addressing social inequities will improve life now and also lead us away from the path of runaway climate change. Join the Watsonville Climate Action Network! General meeting: May 3.”

In addition to learning about climate change, the students learned valuable skills related to video production, interviewing, researching, and composing a message. They have offered to mentor students next year. They are also learning how to respond to negative comments posted on their Youtube videos. (I’ve shared a little information with them about leadership and attacks.)

The contest provided many opportunities to talk with people about climate change—librarians, restaurant workers and diners, donors, volunteers, students and their families, teachers—and will continue to provide opportunities as articles about the contest are published in the newspapers and the student videos are passed around to numerous e-mail lists and posted on social media. (I am continuing to think about where I want to send them—colleges, environmental organizations, other high schools, and so on.)

It’s likely that this project brought climate change to the attention of thousands of people and that it will continue to ripple out. A City Council member whom I met doing a listening project told me that the videos were very emotional for her. She continues to introduce me to people in her circles—other Council members, retired professors who want to volunteer on my projects—and has recommended that I apply to be on the County Commission on the Environment.

Here are some of the possibilities in front of me now:

  • Serving on the County Commission on the Environment
  • Helping to launch an environmental show with a new youth radio station
  • Teaching youth how to help with listening projects
  • Leading a community meeting to release initiative on climate change (probably using the Wygelian4 format)
  • Networking with even more people, such as a Council member who wants to organize group bike rides, a Native leader who is working to establish a Native American Cultural and Healing Center, people in the local Peace and Justice Coalition, big growers in the agriculture industry, politicians, and youth groups.

I now have about two hundred and fifty people on my e-mail list, to whom I send perspectives and links to articles in the news about climate change. Most of them are people of Mexican heritage, the majority population in my city. I consider our network to be part of the International People’s Climate Movement.

I can’t emphasize enough how significant it has been for me to start taking action. One step leads to another. I can’t think of the following step until I’ve taken the first. I step, try something, discharge, think of something new. I have discharged more fear in the last months than I have in years and am regaining my voice in my personal life along with speaking out in public.

Love to you all—it’s great to be doing this work with you!

Nancy Faulstich
Watsonville, California, USA
Reprinted from the RC e-mail discussion lists for leaders of the
care of the environment and for leaders of wide world change


1 A goal adopted by the 2013 World Conference of the Re-evaluation Counseling Communities:

That members of the RC Community work to become fully aware of the rapid and unceasing destruction of the living environment of the Earth. That we discharge on any distress that inhibits our becoming fully aware of this situation and taking all necessary actions to restore and preserve our environment.

Distresses have driven people to use oppression against each other and carry out destructive policies against all of the world. A full solution will require the ending of divisions between people and therefore the ending of all oppressions.

The restoration and preservation of the environment must take precedence over any group of humans having material advantage over others. We can and must recover from any distress that drives us to destroy the environment in our attempts to escape from never-ending feelings of needing more resource.
2 “Seeing to it” means making certain.
“Let’s hear it for” means let’s applaud.
A Wygelian format involves each person in a group taking a turn doing the following: (1) reporting on what he or she has been doing in the last period with regard to the issue being discussed, (2) saying what he or she thinks is the current situation regarding that issue, (3) sharing what he or she proposes to do as a leader on that issue in the next period, and (4) discharging on what is getting in the way of his or her leadership.


Last modified: 2019-05-02 14:41:35+00