City Green’s Climate Action Collective Gallery Walk
City Green’s Climate Action Collective celebrated the end of its 2023 session on Wednesday, October 11, 2023 with a late afternoon gallery walk and celebration at the City Green Farm Eco-Center on Grove Street in Clifton. The event featured the eight student participants, from schools in Bergen and Passaic Counties, including Clifton High School seniors Jada Witter and Jennifer Madera, and a gallery of photos, poems, fabric art, and collaborative tool kits for visitors to walk through and peruse, along with refreshments, opportunities to make art and write poetry, and to build community.
The Climate Action Collective is a unique opportunity for high school students who are passionate about climate change, nature, or environmental justice and want to take community action. It is a program that students must apply and be selected for, and the application and more details can be found HERE.
The program spanned four months, from July 13 to October 11, during which the students met twice a week on Mondays and Wednesdays, for sessions facilitated by a City Green staff member following a curriculum with guided readings, activities, volunteer work, and five off-site field trips. The field trips included a trip to Guttenberg Arts to learn about and make fabric projects, kayaking at Overpeck Park, and a trip to DeKorte Park with the Feminist Bird Club to learn about birds and their connection with the environment. Each meeting was closed with a poem on the topic, and many of those were displayed at the gallery.
Topics of study included food justice, public lands, social movements, climate science, bird migration, and more. Each student researched a topic and worked to create tool kits sharing information and highlighting climate action steps that can be taken. Jennifer Madera’s tool kit on climate art and cultural strategy can be found HERE.
Miranda Madrazo, a program associate at City Green, said that the guided readings and curriculum were based on the books All We Can Save and Braiding Sweetgrass for Young Adults. Madrazo mentioned that this is the first year that the Collective featured collaborative projects. Last year, the program was a pilot program where six high school students did projects in their communities, but this year the focus was on building community and networks for young activists.
Jennifer Papa, the Founder and Executive Director of City Green, opened the celebration and talked about the importance of the Climate Action Collective and helping young people learn more about climate change in a way that empowers them to find solutions. She said that in 2020 New Jersey became the first and only state in the country to adopt standards requiring climate change to be taught across grade levels and in nearly all subjects in K-12 public schools. At City Green Farm Eco-Center, they see the effects firsthand and are committed to helping young people to see the issues of climate change, learn how to become activists, grow their networks, and to be able to work for change. Madrazo presented certificates to the participants, and the celebration ended with Bushra Begum and Aditi Patoliya (both of the STEM Academy at PCTVS) reading poems for the assembled guests.
Barbara Lawrence, the Executive Director of the Taub Foundation, which helped fund the program, was at the celebration and highlighted the importance of working with nonprofits like City Green to invest in local communities, meet human needs, and invest in programs that support young people and raise awareness of climate change.
Jennifer Madera said that she really enjoyed the program, and especially the opportunity to meet queer and minority leaders in climate change. She said that young people face so much anxiety about climate change and that this program helped her see a way forward, which gives her hope.
Jada Witter has been a long-time volunteer with City Green and spoke of gaining a new appreciation for City Green and their mission, a deeper understanding of our climate crisis, and a new passion for making a difference.
All the students told The Clifton Times that they had learned a lot, really enjoyed finding community and connections with people who share their concern for the planet, and recommended it to any student looking for an opportunity to learn more.
For more of The Clifton Times’ coverage on some of City Green’s programs for students, please see HERE, coverage of their Open Saturday program HERE, and for more on their volunteer opportunities HERE. City Green will be hosting a Harvest-themed Open Saturday on October 14 (for details please see HERE) as well as their annual Harvest Festival on October 21 (for details please see HERE). Please check out their calendar and sign up for notifications of their many opportunities and events for the community. The gallery walk will remain up, weather permitting, for visitors to the Farm Eco-Center, a perfect addition for anyone stopping by the Farmstand on Friday to pick up farm-fresh vegetables!