The big news in the Climate Change Education world the last few weeks has been the controversy surrounding leaked Heartland Institute documents. The documents show, among other things, their plan to develop a curriculum for teaching about climate change in K-12 schools. Dr. David Wojick, who is not a climate scientist and received his PhD in epistemology, will develop a set of modules on topics he deems to be “controversial” when in fact there is no controversy. Curriculum modules include the role of humans causing climate change (science concludes humans are a major driver of climate change so yes, it is us!); how climate models work (science proves their models are reliable) and if CO2 is an air pollutant (which it is). Two days ago Dr. Peter Gleick admitted to leaking the Heartland documents. His admission has instigated a variety of responses on whether Dr. Gleick should be considered a hero or condemned for his actions.
There's something unique about the Midwest. Of course, every geographic region of the country has its own style, its own vibe, its own culture to be proud of. But as a born and raised Midwesterner, it's always seemed to me that the Midwest is basically begging to become the hub of a new, sustainable future for America. State environmental coalitions across the Midwest have been growing, and the Midwest Powershift of October 2011 proved that Midwesterners are committed to working together on environmental issues.
Out of a vast array of already existing networks and organizations arises the Midwest Youth Coalition, which, "by pooling time and resources, …will reduce redundancy, provide models and outlines for new campaigns just coming online and offer a regional set of cohesive communication messages" (MYC Mission Statement). Most importantly, the Midwest Youth Coalition seeks to solidify and grow existing networks and relationships both in and among the Midwestern states.
Currently, the Midwest Youth Coalition has one Steering Committee member from each of 6 different Midwest States (listed below), as well as a Communications Lead, Marie Donahue. Our Steering Committee Chair is an as yet undecided position, but we have the guidance of the amazing Abby Fenton of the Will Steger Foundation to help us through the process of Coalition building. Over the next year, we hope to solidify specific goals and issues for the Midwest Youth Coalition to address, as well as to grow our networks and grow as a coalition in general.
- Illinois: Rafael Hurtado
- Michigan: Marion Berger
- Ohio: Casey Slive
- Minnesota: Carlos Dabu
- Wisconsin: Amanda Lazzari
- Iowa: Holly Jones
Together, we will work to increase cooperation and work among the states of the Midwest, and to address major issues affecting the Midwest as a whole. Although we're in the very earliest of our development stages, I can already tell the Midwest Youth Coalition will do great things. We are passionate, we are innovative, and we are ready for action. Our states are the homes of manufacturing giants such as Detroit, craving the production of solar panels and wind turbines. Our vast farmlands and Great Lakes provide ample opportunity for wind power. We see the potential, and we know that that potential can only be reached through our collaboration. We're ready to show the nation just what the Midwest is capable of.
And while we each have our own goals, our own dreams of what we want the Midwest Youth Coalition to do for the Midwest, we're united in the fact that we're ready to work together to create widespread change. Personally, I'm ready for the Midwest to become America's first large-scale green economy. As an avid longtime participant in the Green Economy Leadership Training and native of the city of Detroit, I'm passionate about transforming the Midwest economy to a more sustainable economy in all senses of the word. And it is only through the innovation of our youth and the passion of our united activists that we will make this shift.
Working together, the possibilities of what we can accomplish are limitless. So get to know us! You'll be hearing much more from us over the course of the next year.
Full versions of our current vision and mission statements are listed below:
The Midwest Youth Coalition is a grassroots network that seeks to secure a just and ecologically responsible future. By coordinating collaborative campaigns across Midwest campuses and communities, and by providing a space to share skills, resources and ideas, we will bring a solutions-oriented approach to our most difficult environmental challenges.
The Midwest Youth Coalition envisions a shared space for Midwest youth to exchange skills, ideas and models, to encourage and facilitate discussion and to offer guidance and support to statewide coalitions trying to get off the ground. This space will likely take the form of a website that can host various resources, a monthly or bi-monthly conference call to keep state leaders up to date on the going-ons in the rest of the region, and a steering committee that can support regional events and campaigns.
The Coalition will seek to support statewide coalitions in each of the Midwest states and to assist those coalitions in the work they do. Midwest is defined at this point as Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota. By pooling time and resources, the Coalition will reduce redundancy, provide models and outlines for new campaigns just coming online and offer a regional set of cohesive communication messages. Finally, the Coalition will help build valuable relationships and community throughout the Midwest.
Some of you may have seen Will's editorial last week in the Star Tribune raising awareness about the importance of climate literacy. He wrote:
"Teaching and understanding climate change is a process involving scientific inquiry and educational pedagogy; it is not about politics or partisanship. There is virtually unanimous scientific agreement about climate change."
Reading through the comments that follow the editorial, it is clear that there is a lot of education that is still needed. This presents a great opportunity for all of you and your students to practice rebutting the misconceptions and denial that still permeates the public. How empowering for your students to know that they are "smarter" than the average commenter to the Star Tribune! You can read the comments here or download a document we compiled with all of the comments here. Ask your students to choose one and write their response and if you are comfortable with it, send your responses to the Star Tribune or share them with us. As always, we are excited to hear about how things are going in your classroom.
REMINDER! Please take a few minutes to take our survey about how you have used Minnesota's Changing Climate Curriculum OR why you were unable to do so. We are in the process of editing the curriculum and creating a new edition for next year. THANK YOU! Take the survey here.
Resources and Opportunities
Registration Opens for 7th Annual Summer Institute for Climate Change Education!: PLEASE Share with your colleagues and consider coming back for new sessions and also to share how you used Minnesota's Changing Climate this year. Information here.
New Website Shares Tools and Resources to Make Minnesota Schools Healthier and More Sustainable: The Will Steger Foundation is an active participant in the Minnesota Green Schools Coalition – a group of the state’s strongest advocates for our children who are working to create a Minnesota infrastructure of green schools – healthy, high performance schools that are conducive to learning while saving energy, resources and money. Use this website as a resource and to share with others you know.
Apply for national recognition as a Green Ribbon School! Applications due February 22, 2012 : The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) is partnering with the U.S. Department of Education to recognize green schools with the newly launched Green Ribbon Schools program. To be considered for the program, a school will have achieved or made considerable progress toward the three pillars established in the program: 1) energy efficient buildings; 2) healthy students and school environment; and 3) environmental literacy of all graduates. The combined achievement in these three areas will be the basis for the Green Ribbon Schools award. More information & a link to the application are found on the MDE website.
We want to thank you for being a part of our community of climate literacy ambassadors!
Join YEA! MN and MPIRG as we team up for a youth lobby day at the MN State Capitol in support of solar energy and the Recycling Refund Act.
Emerging from a several years of strategic conversation, cross-state collaboration, and the intense growth of the youth climate movement here in the Midwest, a fledgling coalition is rising. Following in the spirit of regional coalitions launched in the Southeast (Southern Energy Network) and Northwest (Cascade Climate Network), the Midwest Youth Climate Coalition seeks to deepen connections between key youth climate organizations and activists across the Midwest and foster a coordinated approach to regional and national challenges and opportunities.
You can view our full profile at the Charities Review Council.