Climate Conversations Inspire Us
To take the climate emergency seriously and act accordingly, we need to be bold, imaginative, mindful. Since 2016, with dedication and passion, the CASM Climate Corps teams of high school and college students—determined environmental leaders and climate protectors—have engaged thousands of Santa Monica residents, visitors, workers and students in “climate conversations.” Building on that history and following their own training, the 2018 team of nineteen diverse, multilingual youth devoted eight weeks of summer to engage the public about our climate crisis and to show how individuals and families can take positive action and informed about City or regional programs and resources.
Working at local, popular sites and events, such as the 4th of July celebration at Santa Monica College, weekly farmers markets, and the National Night Out, the Climate Corps invited over 1800 people into climate conversations to inform and inspire people to make daily choices to use public transit, walk, ride a bike, reduce water and energy consumption, increase plant-based eating, or practice zero-waste. With 64% of the City’s greenhouse gas emissions coming from transportation, the Climate Corps paid particular attention to encouraging residents and visitors to use active transportation and to learn about the SaMo Safe Streets Alliance, which that CASM and Spoke have co-founded with the NRDC.
The discussions previewed the City’s new Climate Action and Adaptation Plan (CAAP) and led to surveying 923 people in summer 2018, channeling their community voices to inform City staff and the City council and to programs and policies, including the plastic straw ban and the CAAP.
Some interesting 2018 findings include:
• Support for Santa Monica’s plastic straw ban was strong with almost two-thirds of respondents agreeing with the policy.
• More than two thirds of respondents said that climate change factors into their daily life choices.
• When asked if they would be willing to make a climate pledge, four in ten respondents agreed to make one or more. Although short showers and a meatless day appeal to most people, they also voiced a willingness to use sustainable transit and start composting.
For those of us working to beat back the threats coming from the intense global warming, this level of enthusiasm and interest is inspiring. It says “Yes, change IS possible.” The Climate Corps has helped build community based upon valuing that each person could lighten one’s carbon footprint and contribute to communal resiliency to meet the challenge.
Additionally, to extend their reach, each of the 2018 CASM Climate Corps developed individual projects, such as working on Millennial voting with Congresswoman Karen Bass or developing a pamphlet on green buildings. The CASM Climate Corps youth were also selected as Al Gore’s Climate Reality Leaders and have presented at conferences of the Junior States of America and the California Science Teachers Association.
The CASM Climate Corps is buoyed by collaboration and support from many organizations and individuals including the City of Santa Monica, the Santa Monica Farmers Markets, Team Marine at SaMoHI, Santa Monica Spoke, Sustainable Works, Santa Monica College, and Community Corporation, as well as individual and business donors. The CASM Climate Corps have been commended by the City of Santa Monica, Los Angeles County, and have received recognition from various regional and state organizations and institutions.
“My deepest gratitude goes out to the amazing and dedicated people who have helped Climate Action Santa Monica Climate Corps work tirelessly
to produce creative projects, new strategies to collect data, and constantly find ways to communicate sustainability with those of any age or background.
Seeing how this beautiful city and bay has adapted to important issues such as sea level rise, warmer climate, ocean pollution, and more, has inspired
and motivated me to help restore the beauty and life to places and people impacted by climate change who otherwise don’t have a voice.”
— Amy Southern, CASM Climate Corps 2017 and 2018