Young people’s grassroots activism has ushered in a new era of climate action. In an effort to amplify the work of youth climate activists on the front lines of the climate battle, we’ve partnered with Earth Uprising, a youth-led climate activism group founded by 15-year-old Alexandria Villaseñor. The $13.5k Ecosia x Earth Uprising Microgrants Fund will go towards supporting youth-led climate education and activism projects. Through microgrants ranging from $50 to $1000, Ecosia and Earth Uprising hope to fuel the locally-led and youth-driven climate activism that has already inspired climate action worldwide.
We were delighted to talk to Anisa Nanavati, Earth Uprising’s North American Coordinator, about the changes she hopes the fund will catalyze. Find out more about the Ecosia x Earth Uprising Microgrants Fund and how to apply here.
Ecosia: You are currently Earth Uprising’s North American Coordinator. Can you tell us a bit more about yourself, the journey that led you to become a climate activist, and how you first became involved with Earth Uprising?
Anisa Nanavati: I am a 16-year-old high school junior that attends Academy at the Lakes and I live in Tampa, FL. I have always had a passion for nature and our environment because so much of my childhood revolved around the great outdoors. When I learned that my idyllic world of pristine beaches, extensive mangrove forests, and swaying palm trees was at risk, I knew I had to take action. As I delved deeper into the issues of climate change, I found that it was a threat multiplier. Many social issues have direct correlations to the climate crisis which allowed me to understand the true scale of the climate crisis. As a woman of color, I knew that I had to speak for the marginalized communities that will be disproportionately affected by the climate crisis. After a summer of flooding my Instagram stories with infographics, I decided that I needed to take tangible action. I emailed countless organizations and activists and finally found my home at Earth Uprising. I became the City Coordinator for Tampa, Florida. When I expressed interest in taking on a role with more responsibility, I was offered a position on the youth staff as the North American Coordinator. Earth Uprising is my family and I have created strong relationships with people all over the United States and even around the world.
In the past few years young people have been at the forefront of the climate movement. Youth organizations like Youth Climate Strike and Earth Uprising have been gaining momentum. What do young people know about the climate crisis that adults don’t, or won’t, recognize?
As youth, we don’t have the option to stay silent. We have our entire futures at stake. It is a crushing responsibility that we hold in a way that adults do not. Our fight against the climate crisis is a fight for survival. I believe inaction on the climate crisis is due to one of humanity’s most toxic traits, laziness. Put simply, a student can afford to procrastinate on a homework assignment, but we cannot afford to wait any longer to take action. Rhetoric about the supposed lies of science is unfortunately being spread in our society, and we need to change that. Adults have been told that climate change is going to greatly affect them their entire lives, and claim they haven’t seen any significant changes. The truth is that the effects of climate change are already all around us. Our generation has also been exposed to more information about climate change and it is our responsibility to make sure that the adults in our lives are aware of these facts as well.
You were part of a climate strike in Miami, Florida, where you told a reporter that climate change will affect us indiscriminately, regardless of race, age, gender, social class, or sexuality. How do we bring more people to the table, and create an inclusive environmental movement?
Diversity is essential to the strength of a movement, but we must be wary of tokenism. We must listen to each other on a deeper level. Representation exists so that multiple perspectives can help a group come to the best solutions. We must make an effort to make sure that these people are not only at the table, but also actively engaged in productive conversations. We also need to have more conversations about how marginalized groups are at the forefront of this crisis. All in all, when we commit to diversity in our spaces of organizing, we must be willing to give some of our own space up. We need to step up by stepping back. In our current racial climate, it is more important than ever for youth of color to share their perspective. When we engage in conversations with multiple perspectives, we always come up with better ideas that ensure no one is left behind. A lack of diversity and representation led to the downfall of past environmental movements. For a very long time, the environmental movement has been seen as a largely white movement with very few leaders of color. This lack of inclusion and diversity has led to less people of color in the movement. This crisis will affect everyone regardless of skin color and that is the exact reason why we need all hands on deck to combat this crisis.
The youth climate organization you are a part of, Earth Uprising, is teaming up with Ecosia to provide microgrants of between $50 and $1000 to support the projects of youth activists. What do you envision these microgrants will make possible, and why do you want to support local grassroots activism?
I am so excited for these microgrants! Youth activists have some of the most creative and interesting approaches to organizing. Unfortunately, most of the time, these youth have to pay out of pocket for events, strikes, and campaigns. The establishment of these microgrants is a huge step in the right direction. Youth organizing deserves to be prioritized. Local grassroots organizing is incredibly important to the climate movement. Grassroots organizers are able to identify the pain points in their communities and provide the most effective solutions. Youth organizers are some of the most hardworking people I know, and they deserve this!
In the near future, what are the big milestones you and Earth Uprising hope to achieve, and how can people join and support?
At Earth Uprising, our overall goal is to educate people about the climate crisis and the threat it poses to them. We also want to educate youth on how they can take action and empower themselves and others in their communities. In the long term, we hope to help foster meaningful connections among youth all over the world and create a sense of global unity. We cannot solve the climate crisis alone, and it helps to know that a person tens of thousands of miles away is pulling their weight! In the United States, we are working with a group called Climate Science Communication for Youth to create a legislation toolkit. This toolkit will help youth write their own legislation to help improve climate education standards in their communities. We all deserve to learn about the crisis that threatens our very lives and the many effects the crisis will have on our lives. Education is a powerful tool. There are many ways to help and get involved. For example, donations and support from people who are amplifying our message help a lot. If any youth would like to directly get involved, they can visit our website and find more information there.