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Local high schools sign resolution around climate change, among other student-led efforts

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"The more we increase the active participation and partnership with young people, the better we serve them. ... And the more comprehensively we work with them as service partners, the more we increase our public value to the entire community." — Carmen Martinez, former director, Oakland Public Library

Students at Bend Senior High School joined the international student walk-out observing a "global day of climate action" in March. - AARON DUARTE
  • Aaron Duarte
  • Students at Bend Senior High School joined the international student walk-out observing a "global day of climate action" in March.

Don't make the mistake of believing that youth is wasted on the young. If the next generation of Bend's leaders are any indication, a sea change in the way we look at anthropogenic climate change is just around the next graduation tassel. Matter of fact, students in Bend aren't even waiting to graduate to begin their careers as activists.

Below are just a few ways students—and local educators—are becoming leaders in the movement toward mitigating the effects of human-caused climate change.

Bring Your Own Cup Bend


Carrington Fastelin is a senior at Bend Senior High School, inspired to form her own initiative, Bring Your Own Cup Bend, after taking the Environmental Systems and Society class at school. She soon enlisted the help of a small group of fellow activists to create what she calls a "creative, inspired" campaign to reduce single-use plastic, similar to other Bring Your Own Cup initiatives, such as the one created by Recycling Advocates in Portland. The Humble Beet on Bend's west side is the first retailer to sign on to take part in the BYOC Bend initiative.

The idea is simple: Spread the word about the impacts of single-use plastic—including cups—around town, and get local businesses to sign on to encourage their customers and employees to bring their own cups when they patronize their establishments.

It's not just about the non-biodegradable, and often, non-recyclable nature of plastics. According to global water think tank, the Pacific Institute, the amount of plastic needed to meet Americans' appetites for plastic water bottles was equivalent to 17 million barrels of oil in 2006—not counting what it took to transport those bottles. In 2006, making those bottles created 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide that same year.

With the help of hardware that's easy to clip onto bags and purses, like this cup and clip from 
Kleen Kanteen, bringing your own cup can get a lot easier. - NICOLE VULCAN
  • Nicole Vulcan
  • With the help of hardware that's easy to clip onto bags and purses, like this cup and clip from Kleen Kanteen, bringing your own cup can get a lot easier.

"I knew that I wanted to do something, and I noticed that a lot of kids at school use single-use cups—because we all love Dutch Bros.," Fastelin said. "It's something that affects us all."

As an initial outreach, members of BYOC Bend will be set up at the Sierra Club booth during the Downtown Earth Day Fair & Parade on Saturday, handing out free stickers. Next on the group's agenda: Getting more businesses to take part and spread the word.

A Call to Climate Action Resolution


Meanwhile, area high schools are coming together in an effort to get the Bend-La Pine Schools Board of Directors to sign a resolution on climate action.

Bridger Freeman, a Bend High student, was instrumental in drafting the Bend Senior High School Student Council's Call to Climate Action Resolution. Freeman had the help of Jesse Kurtz-Nichol, a professor of economics at Central Oregon Community College, who also works with the group, Schools for Climate Action—which helps schools form climate action resolutions nationwide.

The resolution's tenets include, "We declare climate change a generational justice and human rights issue," and "We, as students, endorse equitable and effective state and national carbon pricing policies and call on all adults, voters, leaders, and institutions to join us in advocating for and implementing these policies rapidly in order to restore the climate."

After adopting the resolution at Bend High, students and teachers got buy-in from other area schools, including REALMS High School and Skyline High School, says Matt Fox, a teacher at Bend High who teaches a unique "Design Justice" course. The class is a hive where many students hatch ideas about social change movements they want to launch.

"That class—we give them the tools, and ask them, how do you attack the change?" Fox said.

Fox said they're also working with leaders at Mt. View and Summit high schools to adopt resolutions there, too. In addition, the local teacher's union, Bend Education Association, has also signed on, Fox said. With as many schools as possible signed on, representatives will take the resolution to an upcoming school board meeting, in hopes of getting the board to adopt its own resolution.

Youth Climate Strike


In August 2018, Swedish high school student Greta Thunberg staged a protest outside the Swedish Parliament, demanding the government reduce carbon emissions in accordance with the Paris Climate Agreement. Thunberg's activism inspired students worldwide—including students in Central Oregon. Along with other students around the world, students at local high schools walked out of school March 15, in what they dubbed a "global day of climate action," demanding leaders transition to 100 percent renewable energy by 2030, and form a committee to implement a Green New Deal, among other items.

At Bend High, organizers for the Youth Climate Walkout included Isable Merel, a senior. "We have just 11 short years to reverse the damage we've inflicted on the environment before our planet becomes uninhabitable," Merel wrote. "But we can't wait for the next election."

Science and Sustainability Fair


At the Redmond Proficiency Academy, students have been incorporating research around sustainability into their science curriculum this semester. On Monday, they'll open their doors to the public for the school's annual Science and Sustainability Fair, where attendees can see student research, and gain free sustainability resources.

"In this day and age, consumption rules most of our thinking. It is advertised even to young children. But what happens after these things we buy have no use? Where do they go? It is important that we bring light to the effects of modern consumption practices and that is exactly what RPA's sustainability fair is going to do," RPA freshman Kristine Parker stated in a release.

Redmond Proficiency Academy Science and Sustainability Fair
Mon., April 22. 4-6pm
RPA Middle School
150 SW 25th St., Redmond
rpaacademy.org

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