Co-Founder, Emerging Environmental Changemakers Network, Maine Environmental Education Association
Brunswick, ME & Sacramento, CA, United StatesAge: 27
Tell us a bit about yourself!
My personal and professional background revolve around the mutual healing of nature and community. I was born in Maine, where I spent most of my life before joining the AmeriCorps Community HealthCorps in Syracuse, NY. After AmeriCorps, I started conducting community research throughout Maine and developed a pilot coldwater conservation stewardship program for a cohort of environmental groups along the Saco River in Maine. My water quality work opened my eyes to the disconnect between people and their water, and I saw education as a way to help empower people to make informed decisions about the water they drink and water law.Presently, I’m the co-founder of the Emerging Changemakers Network, a gathering through the Maine Environmental Education Association. The annual gathering in Maine brings together young folks who want to make a difference but may not know how, and pairs them with industry experts and potential mentors to help solve the problems they’re working to tackle. Instead of viewing solutions as coming from one single person or “leader,” we work to strengthen the communities as a whole for collaborative, sustainable change. In addition to Changemakers, I run free water quality assessment workshops for folks to start learning about their water. I conduct them over video calls or will travel, and send the kits to participants for free if they agree to train others in exchange. We’ll discuss toxins, contaminants, quality; bottling and the truth about recycling; and water rights/law.Also, I’m a blogger and focus on sustainable plus size fashion and incorporating environmental justice principles in daily life.
What inspired you to become a champion for the environment and environmental education?
I’m motivated when others feel empowered! I’m motivated by action. I’m motivated by people connecting with others, sharing sparks and ideas, and building connections. I can feel the change happening already.
What advice would you give to the next generation of leaders that are looking to bring about positive change in their communities through EE?
Before you begin working in a community, ask yourself who you’re doing the work for. Better yet, be invited.
If we are aiming for the community as a collective to heal and move towards a stronger future, then we must address all the ailments within the community. We need to talk about racism, we need to talk about sexism, we need to talk about why trans women of color are dying at higher rates than any other social group in the country, and we need to talk about diet culture, toxic masculinity, and domestic violence. We need to know what we’re working with in order to fix the problems at the root. Until we can see that all these problems are interlinked and that all require appropriate attention, love, and support to heal, then we’ll continue the imbalance and continue to struggle.
What pro-environmental behavior do you think would make a big impact if everyone in the world started doing it?
I believe the world would be in a much better place if we stopped supporting fast fashion and the sweatshop industry. Shopping your own closet, swapping, thrifting, or making your own clothing are excellent starting points before venturing into ethical and sustainable newly-made pieces. Being intentional with our buying, choosing fabrics that don’t cause pollution with every wash (i.e. microfiber), and supporting brands that offer inclusive sizing options are easy things folks can do to help this unfortunate system.
If you could be any animal or plant, what would you be and why?
A really saucy cactus, one of the rotund ones with the flowers all over. I’d be serving looks in the harshest desert conditions.