Coping with Radical Changes
Seven weeks ago I was in Portland enjoying the Green Schools Conference and Expo (basically behaving like a public health nightmare!) hugging old friends that I only see once a year at this event. The Go Green Initiative (GGI) had big plans for Earth Day 2020, none of which involved a screen.
- We were going to host a Happy Hour for teachers in our home city of Pleasanton, CA
- We had events lined up for high school students we work with, including a field trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium
- We had plans for an amazing summer internship program for high school and college students that would include field trips to see the largest dam in the U.S. and all the biggest components of the California State Water Project
- We were going to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day with joy and laughter and optimism
We’ve had to pivot hard and fast.
We are headquartered in the Bay Area which was the first area to go under shelter-in-place orders, and almost immediately all our plans were cancelled. We had a Zoom call early-on with the teens in our Local Leaders of the 21st Century clubs, and they were sad and scared. Everything they had been looking forward to – from Prom to field trips and graduation – were stripped from them overnight.
Morale was low.
They asked me if I’d ever seen anything like this in my lifetime. I told them that for a little while after 9/11, people were afraid to gather and many things changed, but the nation rallied quickly and found courage to go on. But this is different, we can’t beat this threat by being defiant.
I told them that it will take resilience to cope with this, and it’s the same kind of resilience we talk about when we discuss how we’ll face climate change. We’ve talked about what the CA Climate Change Assessment says will happen in our region, and we know we need to be able to cope with radical changes.
We started building our resilience muscles.
Instead of lamenting all the things we couldn’t do, we hyper-focused on what we can do.
- Our summer internship is now an e-Internship, and over 60 students have already applied!
- Students from different high schools have launched a joint effort to provide eco-friendly content for all ages with a new YouTube Channel
- We are working with the City of Pleasanton and local teens to create digital outreach materials to help residents learn about the new Climate Action Plan
- We’re hosting our first Facebook Live session with “green teens” who are figuring out how to promote environmental protection while quarantined
- We partnered with Workday on a new initiative to help schools save a lot of money when school is back in session using the U.S. EPA’s Energy Star Portfolio Manager (much more info coming soon!)
Celebrating Earth Day 2020 with Joy, Laughter and Optimism
Despite all of the radical changes that have occurred in the past few weeks, the students and adults of the Go Green Initiative press forward. We find ways to be together, make each other laugh, and create innovative ways to encourage people to protect our beautiful earth.