EcoSummit presentation puts global issues in local perspective

Editors' note: Ball State University writer Sara Dreibelbis wrote this story about one of our Youth Board of Advisors, Julia Levine.

“Why does life seem so entwined? And where are we going?”

The play starts with a question, but it doesn’t end with an answer. It’s called Gaia, named after the Greek goddess of the Earth. Julia Levine, a senior theater major at Butler University, wrote and directed Gaia to make audiences think about issues of sustainability and the environment.

Levine presented Gaia on Saturday, Nov. 3, 2014, at the third annual Indiana Student EcoSummit at Ball State University. The event was a forum for students to share ideas on a variety of environmental issues, from climate change to political policy. Gaia served as an example of how the arts can get people thinking about sustainability in creative ways.

Levine showed a recording of the play to a crowd of about 20 students and community members from throughout Indiana to start a discussion about the process and product.

Gaia is an unusual piece of theater. It is in the genre of eco-theater, which focuses on presenting global environmental issues in select bits and more personal ways. Levine said the format is intended to make audiences think differently about how their own lives might affect the world outside of their community.

In Levine’s play, performer Alexander Borrello summed up the common message of eco-theater: “People think that we’re outside of nature. They don’t take into themselves that we’re actually a part of nature.”

That concept of human interaction with the environment was the main focus of Levine’s play.

Levine formed the script for Gaia around everyday interactions, often humorous and lighthearted, that concern sustainability issues. From dinner table discussions on food quality to the stressful shouts of a mother-son driving lesson, Levine presented global issues in a personal way so that audiences could easily relate.

Gaia did not follow the format of most traditional plays. It had no single, structured plot, and the characters were not clearly defined. Five actors in nondescript gray clothes switched in and out of roles. Each performer played several different characters and served at times as a musician, a dancer or even a member of the technical crew.

The actors went by their own names on stage – when names were used at all – which removed yet another layer of traditional theater’s separation of audience from actor. The barefoot performers looked less like fictional figures on a stage and more like people you’d see on the street. Levine said she did this on purpose so that audiences could see how much the concepts in the play relate to their own lives.

Through short scenes, silent comedy vignettes, dances, folk songs and even some moments of beat boxing, Gaia questioned several distinct concepts related to sustainability and human interactions with the natural world. The play brought up questions about organic and genetically modified foods, recycling, driving, the isolating effects of technology and modern society’s disconnection from nature.

Levine said she was inspired to include these concepts based on what she saw in her own community of Indianapolis, as well as global issues. She spent the summer of 2014 researching and preparing for the play, which premiered at Butler in September.

“I was reading about climate change and environmental theories,” Levine said. “And then also just popular culture, how we talk about climate and the environment and nature, and how humans are linked in with all that.”

Levine presented these issues in her play, but she didn’t offer any solutions. She said that wasn’t the goal of the play. Instead, she intended to make audiences think about the outcomes of their actions and look at their lives in new ways.

“That’s what I wanted,” Levine said. “For people to continually question and not accept answers that are presented to them.”

Levine was confident in her goals, but she said she wasn’t so confident about how audiences would respond to this unorthodox piece of theater. She was unsure of how people would react when the play was first performed at Butler in the fall, but she said she was overwhelmed by the how well audiences received the show.

“They were engaged and responded really positively,” Levine said. “People appreciated the use of humor with this really heavy topic, and it was really positive all the way around. It’s amazing to have something that I was inside of for so long, and then be able to step back and hear from audiences what they thought of it.”

Reactions from the audience at the EcoSummit were similarly positive. Emma Laut, a biology major at Marion University who attended the conference, said she had never before seen a play like Gaia with an environmental mission, but she thought it was an effective concept.

“I think that the arts are a really beautiful and outspoken way to get anything across,” Laut said. “When you use art and when you use humor instead of just bluntly saying things, people have to try and figure it out, and people like to try to figure things out. That’s something she [Levine] did really well in this. It kept you captured the whole time.”

Allison Turner, a student at Purdue University majoring in natural resource and environmental sciences as well as political science, said she appreciated Levine’s creativity in finding a new way to present environmental issues.

“We need anything anymore,” Turner said. “If one person can be changed by it, it’s worth it, because you just want to get things out. If it makes somebody think, it’s just one more way to start this conversation.”

Levine’s play left audiences with plenty to think about and discuss. The half-hour show covered diverse topics and brought up lots of questions about the way people interact with the Earth and with each other. Although it didn’t offer any solutions, Gaia did end with a call to action.

“We stand at a critical moment at Earth’s history, at a time when humanity must choose its future,” actress Sonia Goldberg said near the show’s end. “As the Earth becomes increasingly independent and fragile, the future at once holds great peril and great promise. It is imperative that we, the peoples of Earth, declare responsibility to one another, to the great community of life and to future generations. We are at once citizens of different nations and of one world, in which the local and global are linked.”

The play that started with a question ended with another one, in glowing white words projected into the darkness, which sent a message to audiences that the next step is in their hands. “What now?”

Brianna Dines: Standing up for the environment

Editors note: Brianna Dines has served as an adviser for Youth Power Indiana since its inception. Recently, she moved to Canada to pursue graduate work.

Yesterday, I decided my role as a human animal on this earth was more important than my short-term concerns as a graduate student. I was rushing to finish a paper (using a book titled “Friction,” focusing on environmental destruction and globalization) on time for that day’s class, when I found out that people were being arrested on Burnaby Mountain (a designated public conservation area) for opposing US Company Kinder Morgan’s pipeline construction.

I have never missed turning in an assignment on time, but I thought, “Okay, who am I if I finish this paper instead of joining them? Who am I if I stop what I’m doing and make a stand on this mountain that has become one of my newest and most beautiful acquaintances?”

These are the decisions I will need to make as I mold myself into the academic I wish to be. Do I think that writing and thinking about the world and our relationships to it and ourselves is enough?

I do not.

I emailed my professor saying, “Instead of class, we should all show up at the Burnaby Mountain protests and help make some ‘friction.’ Feeling a little silly writing a paper using works on global capitalism, environmental destruction, and collective action and not being on the mountain enacting the purpose of those works. What could we do as a class in solidarity that puts theory into action?”

He replied that he would be inclined to do that, but I would need the majority of the class’s support. I immediately got on Facebook and messaged everyone in class. All of us agreed to come and immediately started talking about where to meet and what to bring. The professor cancelled a meeting at another location so he could meet us at the site.

That night, as we stood in a circle in the dark, we discussed our reading material: how is the landscape itself an agent and an interlocutor with humans in the drama of globalization? What is indigeneity? It was the perfect place to think about these theoretical issues. I saw that social action can be the site of the most embodied kind of intellectual engagement.

I am not First Nations. I am not Canadian. But I am a woman who lives and learns as a neighbor to Burnaby Mountain. I cannot avoid what I feel to be my duty to stand with others against the utter backwardness that is the continuing investment in fossil fuels for short-term profit. This myopic mindset destroys the abundance given which allows us to exist in this world.

As I think about who I am becoming, I know I will need to use my mental, emotional, and corporal energy to stand firm against environmental (and thus our own) destruction and that balance will be the education I will need the most.


Climate Action Plan testimony, the sequel: Maddie Brooks

Editors' note: On Nov. 12, 2014, Earth Charter Indiana and Youth Power Indiana returned to the Environmental Rules Board to once again advocate to be granted a hearing regarding a Climate Action Plan for Indiana.


My name is Maddie Brooks and I am an eighth grader at Project Libertas.

This past summer I was taught to use my voice. To stand up. To make myself be heard. But in order to be heard, you need an audience willing to listen. That’s your role today.

Climate Change has been demanding to be noticed lately. And a lot of people have chosen to ignore or deny that fact.

Not us. We have noticed.

We’ve noticed the temperature rising.

We’ve noticed the ice melting.

We’ve noticed the extreme weather conditions.

Some people may have excuses or say we’re imagining all of these situations, but being doubted on facts – it wears me out. Let alone all of these guys.

On behalf of the youth, I ask you to take the necessary and responsible steps, as our state’s leaders, to grant us a hearing regarding a Climate Action Plan, to ensure my future is guaranteed.

Citizens of Indiana are counting on you. Each and every one of you have the chance to make a difference. So, ask yourselves, “Why not take it?”

My and future generations are depending on the decision you make. Our futures – they’re in your hands. It’s up to you if they are good ones or not.

Climate Action Plan testimony, the sequel: Cora Gordon

Editors' note: On Nov. 12, 2014, Earth Charter Indiana and Youth Power Indiana returned to the Environmental Rules Board to once again advocate to be granted a hearing regarding a Climate Action Plan for Indiana.

Hello. My name is Cora Gordon. I am an eighth grade student at Eastwood Middle School. First off, I would just like to say thanks for giving me time to share my opinion and for listening to me. I am here to express the fact that we — as in Indiana — need a Climate Action Plan.

Climate change is a real, hard-hitting challenge that we MUST face. It is not something that can just solve itself.

Now, I know some of you probably think that nothing major will happen until you are dead and gone, but what about my future? I want to grow up and I want to get a job, but the way things are going now, my full time job will be surviving.

And what generations younger than me? Will they even know what life was like when people didn’t have to scramble around like animals for food?

In all honesty, I am terrified. I am terrified for my future and also for Indiana. So, think to yourself, do you really want all your hard work for this country to be all for nothing? Do you want your kids, nieces, nephews and grandchildren to have to give all they have just to survive?

Or will you have a plan? Will you have a plan that could save hundreds of thousands of lives and futures? Because I need that plan. And so do all the generations younger than mine.

Jackson Leonard: Letter to the Environmental Rules Board

Editors note: In an effort to convince the Environmental Rules Board they have the authority to take on getting a Climate Action Plan for Indiana, numerous people wrote civil, impassioned letters. Leonard was one of the original petitioners, and here is his letter.

Dear Environmental Rules Board,

Hello, my name is Jackson Leonard and I’m from Stilesville, Indiana. You’ll recall me from the June 11 hearing. I’ve returned from training in California and I’m back only for a short time. I regret not having the opportunity to meet you all again.

I'm a Marine because I believe in the relationship that exists between my country and myself. We listen to each other and take care of each other appropriately. I give maximum effort at all times because my country asks me to.

However, when I ask my country to act on climate change, I’m ignored.

I am exceedingly disappointed and disturbed that my leaders are choosing not to explore an issue that will affect current and future generations. How can I operate efficiently in the fleet knowing that my friends, family, and farm are suffering due to climate change?

It’s my responsibility to defend my country and that should be my only concern. Unfortunately, I’m afraid that I will return to a weaker Indiana. I want to trust that my leaders will not let that happen.

Climate change has become a serious threat to national security. We will see global instability, hunger, poverty and conflict. Military facilities and my home in Indiana will be devastated by fierce weather. Fortunately, the DOD is becoming greener in an effort to protect the country from the new enemy that is Climate Change.

The Navy and Marine Corps are deeply committed to energy conservation, preserving the environment, and planning for and alleviating the effects of climate change. The Marine Corps is employing renewable energy, developing energy saving gear, and are currently launching numerous other projects. I’m proud to be a part of that and I expect to participate in similar efforts when I return.

Let’s progress with the rest of the country. We need the Environmental Rules Board to help us take those first steps. If the Climate Action Plan Petition is granted a public hearing, all of the passion, support, and hard work we put into the petition will be embodied in a powerful and convincing display. Let our voices be heard.


Jackson Leonard,

Private USMC

A Special Resolution to encourage youth

This Special Resolution was passed on August 18. Youth Power Indiana director Jim Poyser was asked to stand with Herron High School student Jackson Blanchard to receive the resolution, which was submitted by councilor Zach Adamson.

In Indianapolis, a big victory over coal

By Alexis Litz

Last week, Indianapolis celebrated a huge victory in the fight against coal as IPL announced that it would begin the process of phasing out coal and completely converting to natural gas by 2016.

What does this mean for the citizens of Indianapolis and beyond? Cleaner air, fewer carbon emissions and no more dependence on dirty coal.

Though this is a step forward in terms of a cleaner future, not all of us are jumping for joy just yet. Mirror mirror on the wall, what is the dirtiest fossil fuel of all? Coal, obviously.

So, converting the Harding Street power plan to natural gas is clearly a step in the right direction. But as anyone with any knowledge about resource extraction will tell you, natural gas has its own ramifications.

Hydraulic fracturing, the process by which natural gas is extracted from the ground, poses a direct threat to water supplies. Millions of gallons of water — combined with sand and toxic chemicals — are injected into deeply buried beds of shale where large reservoirs of natural gas exist. The chemicals used in fracking fluid have the potential to contaminate aquifers and therefore make water undrinkable.

When water supplies are threatened, so are human lives.

Another issue to consider about fracking is the seismic activity it stimulates. In areas where fracking is rampant, such as Oklahoma, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of earthquakes. Scientists believe the injection of fracking wastewater back into the ground (for disposal purposes) is to blame for the increase in seismic activity.

If the threat of earthquakes and water contamination isn't enough to turn you off the idea of fracking, consider the contribution it makes to global warming. During the process of fracking, excess methane that is not captured escapes into the atmosphere.

Methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Over a period of 100 years, methane traps 25 times as much heat as carbon dioxide does. The EPA estimated that in 2011, 145 million metric tons of methane were released during fracking operations.

This massive volume of methane release suggests we are heading for a planetary disaster.

In summation, fracking poses its own set of risks just as coal does. Although I did include the risks of fracking that I found to be the most pertinent, I left out some key issues that are still significant. I recommend visiting the EPA's website for more information.

Phasing coal out of Indianapolis is still a tremendous victory as it ensures we are doing our part to comply with the EPA's Clean Power Plan. It ensures that no more hazardous coal ash will be produced here in Indianapolis.

It means that we can all breath easier with fewer toxins in our air. Because of this change, Indianapolis will be an even better place to live.

For the time being, let’s celebrate and express our gratitude for the volunteers who put in so much time to protect the health of our planet and its people.


Alexis Lynn Litz

Geology Major

Environmental Science Minor

Student Environmental Sustainability Coordinator

President of the Green Panthers

Class of 2015

Climate Camp 2014: A camper’s perspective (Maddie)

What is the point of being alive if you don’t even try to do something remarkable?” — John Green

The first day I arrived at the Peace Learning center for climate camp, I didn’t know what I was walking into exactly. There were several different age groups, our youngest camper at age 9 and oldest being 17. There was a significant age gap, but everyone clicked immediately. I didn’t know anyone except two of the other campers and Jim Poyser, but I instantly felt at home.

I didn’t have much to say, considering I had never dug into climate change before. Climate change always seemed to be one of those things that would take care of itself. It never seemed like it would amount into something of my concern. Oh boy, was I wrong! 

All through the week, I learned things I had never even thought of before, and honestly, I am still completely mind-blown. Now that I know it’s my future we are talking about, I feel I have to do something about it. This camp has inspired me to do great things at my school, home and to let other people, even strangers, know what will happen if we keep these habits up.

Climate camp taught me that it’s up to the younger generation to make a difference. If we don’t take a stand and we let the lifestyle we are living continue, there won’t be much of a future to come.

I want to thank the people of Climate Camp, Peace Learning Center, Indy Urban Acres, Second Helpings, Eskenazi Health, and so many more for making this camp possible because no matter how cheesy it sounds, it has changed my life and made me more proactive towards the situation.

Maddie Brooks, 14

Project Libertas

 For more on Climate Camp, see Jim Poyser's blog.

Climate Camp 2014: Re-envisioning Old Macdonald


Note: on the final day of Climate Camp, campers got together to create a Climate Showcase. The Showcase included poetry, a play, a performance art piece, and some nifty improvisation. It also included this revision of an old song.

Old Macdonald had an Eco-Friendly farm e-i-e-i-o

And on his farm he had a Grass-Fed cow e-i-e-i-o

With a moo-moo here and a moo-moo there

Here a moo, there a moo, everywhere a moo-moo

Old Macdonald had an Eco-Friendly Farm e-i-e-i-o

And on his farm he had a Free- Range chicken e-i-e-i-o

With a cluck-cluck here and a cluck-cluck there

Here a cluck, there a cluck, everywhere a cluck-cluck

Old Macdonald had an Eco-Friendly farm e-i-e-i-o

And on his farm he had a Compost Pile e-i-e-i-o

With a pee-yew here, and a pee-yew there

Here a pee, there a yew, everywhere a pee- yew

Old Macdonald had an Eco-Friendly farm e-i-e-i-o

And on his farm he had Solar Panels on the Barn e-i-e-i-o

With a saving energy here and a saving energy there

Here a saving energy, there a saving energy, everywhere a saving energy

Old Macdonald had an Eco-Friendly Farm,


*jazz hands*

 For more on Climate Camp, see Jim Poyser's blog.


Climate Camp 2014: A camper’s perspective (Adara)

With the growing urgency of climate change, we cannot have it both ways. We cannot shout from the rooftops about the dangers of global warming and then turn around and shout even louder about the dangers of windmills. -David Suzuki

This quote represents this country’s take on global warming perfectly: we all see the signs of global warming but we choose to ignore them and put them off to the side. We would rather hide in our ignorance than step out and make a difference. However, there are ways we can spread the word, like by listening to the children.

At climate camp we learned that we are the ones who can make a difference. We learned how to take care of our environment, spread the word about climate change, how to stalk animals, and so much more, all while having lots of fun and making new friends.

Climate change is a very serious matter, but somehow every day the counselors managed to have something fun planned for us. Every day I knew I was going to learn something new.

On the first day of Climate Camp, we took a hike through the woods of Eagle Creek, where Peace Learning Center is located.

On the first day of Climate Camp, we took a hike through the woods of Eagle Creek, where Peace Learning Center is located.

However, it wasn’t just the learning I would look forward to; I also looked forward to seeing all the new friends I had made as well. When I first signed up I thought I would be the person to sit alone because I was too shy to talk to anybody. It turned out to be the complete opposite: despite my shy nature I made tons of new friends.

Going to climate camp was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Not only did I learn a ton of new things about climate change and how to stop it, I also made a lot of new friends. I will always remember climate camp, and I am hoping to go again next year.

Adara Duncan, Age 12

Attica Junior-Senior High School

 For more on Climate Camp, see Jim Poyser's blog.


Climate Camp 2014: A counselor’s perspective

Author Alexis Litz, left, works with campers on a project that involved visualizing CO2: one pound of CO2 = the equivalent of 28 balloons.

Author Alexis Litz, left, works with campers on a project that involved visualizing CO2: one pound of CO2 = the equivalent of 28 balloons.

Last week I had the privilege of volunteering as a camp counselor at Peace Learning Center here in Indianapolis. Aptly named "Climate Camp," the theme of the week was climate change: understanding its causes and learning how humans can mitigate it. It was the job of Kristina Hulvershorn, Mathew Davis, Jim Poyser, and I to teach these children about a concept that many adults have a difficult time grasping. How in the world would we go about doing this?

Being sensitive to the fact that we were working with children, we aimed to combine fun with facts in order to get the point across without boring the children to death.

After the awkward introductory period in which we got the kids acquainted and comfortable, the real discussions began. Keep in mind that the age of these children ranged from 9 to 17 years old. Despite the large age gap, every single child participated in the discussion and was able to back up their own opinion.

To say I was impressed with these children is an understatement. Not only did the children learn from us and from each other, but we adults learned from them as well.

As the week progressed, the children spent time outside, observed the world around them using more than their sense of sight alone (with the help of Matt Shull from White Pine Wilderness Academy), experienced locally grown and cooked vegan food, learned about fossil fuels, greenhouse gases, the importance of sustainable practices and renewable energy, and honed their discussion skills. The benefits these children gained from Climate Camp are invaluable and they yearned to show their parents everything they had learned during the week.

Matt Shull of White Pine Wilderness Academy talks with campers about nature connectivity.

Matt Shull of White Pine Wilderness Academy talks with campers about nature connectivity.

On Friday evening, the children hosted a showcase of all the knowledge they gained during climate camp. Some of the younger children presented a PowerPoint of pictures, others put on a short play written by one of the Climate Campers, and our very own Mathew Davis presented an original poem. Much of the showcase was humorous but the final part was far more serious.

On the screen, a music video from YouTube played while the children stood at the front of the room holding up cards that show the various effects of climate change: drought, starvation, disease, the list goes on.

To the song "Plus Rien," the video displayed disturbing images of desert wastelands, diseased and starving people, an uninhabitable planet. In other words, the future of planet Earth if we humans don't clean up our act (or, forgive the pun, "green" up our act). The work is by a French band called Les Cowboys Fringants and is about the last man on Earth, living in the not-so-distant future, talking about what lead up to this disturbing scenario. The devastation of landscapes and the deaths of those who inhabited by them were exacerbated by — you guessed it — climate change.

The campers' showcase on Friday included this rather chilling piece by Aspen (not pictured).

The campers' showcase on Friday included this rather chilling piece by Aspen (not pictured).

 The haunting lyrics of this song were displayed on the screen: But after about a hundred years some people started to wake up/ And they warned them they needed to stop/ But they didn't understand this wise prophecy/ Those men only spoke in terms of profit/It was some years later that they saw the error of their ways/In panic they declared a state of emergency/When all the oceans engulfed the islands/And the floods hit the big cities.

As I gazed across the room, I saw the same expression emblazoned on the face of every single person in the audience as well as the campers: incredulity mixed with horror.

All morbidity aside, this is the moment every environmentalist lives for: the moment when people really begin to get it. The goal is not necessarily to scare people into believing but sometimes that is the only method that gets the point across. Climate change is no hoax and in fact, a very real and terrifying reality.

Though the children found this video to be quite horrifying, they may still need more time before it really sinks in, but I have the utmost faith that it will. Climate Camp merely planted the seed and will stick with these children their entire lives.

To paraphrase a statement by Kristina Hulvershorn, "We see before us the juxtaposition of our greatest hopes and our worst fears."

It is always said that children are our future and there is no denying the truth in that. The most incredible attribute of these children, our Climate Campers, is that even in the face of a maddeningly uncertain future, they retain their unwavering hope.

Coming away from camp, I learned from those children to never lose hope in a bright future even in the face of oblivion, and that is a vital lesson that every person on this planet needs.

Alexis Lynn Litz

Hanover College
Geology Major
Environmental Science Minor
Student Environmental Sustainability Coordinator
President of the Green Panthers
Class of 2015

 For more on Climate Camp, see Jim Poyser's blog.

Climate Camp 2014: A camper’s perspective (Iris)

When I first arrived at Climate Camp, I was surprised to see a wide age range. Yet we all became great friends in the time span of a week.

We had the opportunity to bike around downtown Indianapolis and visit the Nature Conservancy, Indiana State Museum, The Sky Farm at Eskenazi Health. It was amazing to see that you can have a farm and/or garden anywhere you live, even in the city.

While at the Sky Farm, we could smell the fumes from a local brewery, giving us a visual of what we had been talking about. That everything you choose to do has an impact on the people around you.

During Climate Camp's bicycle tour of Indianapolis, Iris had a mishap on her bike. Like a warrior, she got right up and kept on biking.

During Climate Camp's bicycle tour of Indianapolis, Iris had a mishap on her bike. Like a warrior, she got right up and kept on biking.


One of the most interesting facts that I learned was that your toilet wastes more water than your other household actions. 

The other day, I was wearing my climate camp t-shirt and someone asked me about my future. They were surprised to hear about the temperature rise, scarce amounts of clean water, and that food supplies will be threatened. And than when I mentioned that reducing your personal consumption could help solve these problems, she was completely shocked! She had said, that she had no idea that your clothes go to the landfills when you throw them away.

The whole week of camp was an amazing experience and I learned so many new things and I’m sure all of the other campers did as well; from going around Indianapolis and seeing how Indiana is trying to help fight Climate Change and promoting possible solutions.

Iris O'Donnell Bellisario, 16

Gambold Preparatory Magnet High School

 For more on Climate Camp, see Jim Poyser's blog.

Climate Action Plan testimony: Alexis Lynn Litz

Editor's note: The following is the testimonial read by Alexis Lynn Litz, in front of the Environmental Rules Board on June 11. For more on Alexis, see our About page.

In light of the new EPA “Clean Power Plan,” the nation as a whole must reduce its carbon emissions by 30% within the next 16 years. Recognizing the fact that each state has different energy needs and means of obtaining this energy, each state has been given the liberty to address this issue as it sees fit.

Indiana, being a heavily coal dependent state now has some hefty decisions to make at this fork in the road. In order to reduce our states carbon emissions, we can invest more heavily in natural gas (a deceptive form of “cleaner” energy) or we can take the lead in developing renewable energy resources.

According to the Earth Charter, the document on which our organization is based, “we stand at a critical moment in Earth’s history, a time when humanity must choose its future.” This statement could not be more relevant to Indiana when we stand at this fork in the road. I know the EPA had every American's best interest in mind when passing these new carbon regulations and I trust that you all have every Hoosier’s best interest in mind as well.

Creating a Climate Action Plan that includes a reduction in our dependence on coal and instead focuses on more renewable energy resources will ensure a sustainable future for generations of Hoosiers to come.

Climate Action Plan testimony: Zalika Thompson

Editor's note: The following is the testimonial read by Zalika Thompson, in front of the Environmental Rules Board on June 11. For more on Zalika, see our About page.

This climate action plan will prove to be beneficial to everyone, but mainly to communities near high-pollution sites that contribute to air, water, and soil contamination. The people in these areas are often less visible as a whole and therefor subject to environmental injustice. This could be anybody, your friends, your coworkers, or your family.

In fact, some are my family as my parents were born and raised in Indianapolis.

Living in a low socioeconomic community leads people to focus on the present and many live week-to-week or even day-by-day. When each day is a struggle, the future does not seem like something to plan or look forward to.

However, we should be concerned because together, we are the future of this state and country. Every single person has value whether rich, poor, or in the middle, we are all in this together. Everyone deserves to breathe clean air, and drink clean water.

For the sake of the nation, citizens must have equal access to a healthy environment. Whether these people of low-income areas are concerned about their futures or not, we each have a stake, we work, we contribute, we have people we love and care about.

For those who are unable to speak for themselves, I speak for them because we all matter in some way, to someone.  

Climate Action Plan testimony: Nila Johnson

Editor's note: The following is the testimonial read by Nila Johnson, in front of the Environmental Rules Board on June 11. For more on Nila, see our About page.

Hello my name is Nila Johnson and I am the former Vice President of the Switzerland County FFA as well as working as the Public Relations specialist for the Farm Bureau.

Because of my past, I have been very active in changing the environmental concerns. For example, during my Junior and Senior years of high school, I researched the current state of the African nation, Somalia, for an FFA project. I took my research and created a new way of implementing the new technologies of Seawater Greenhouses and Drip irrigation systems. This was not only framed at how to make the farming practices easier on the land but as well as the people of Somalia.

Through the FFA I also created programs that taught students the importance of living a green life in order to help the environment not only around them but around the world.

Lastly, I worked closely with the Farm Bureau in my county to reach out to our government at the local and state level to talk about implementing green farming techniques.

Growing up in a rural area, I was taught to appreciate what the environment provided for me and my family. I believe that in today’s world, many do not appreciate our environment which has led to the current devastating state of our world. This fact has not only had a huge impact on how our world is today but how it will be for future generations. Climate change is a problem that is here now and will continue to escalate at a fast pace if we the people do not take a stand to change it. 


Climate Action Plan testimony: Jackson Leonard

Editor's note: The following is the testimonial read by Jackson Leonard, in front of the Environmental Rules Board on June 11. For more on Jackson, see our About page.

I am a sustainable farmer from Eminence, Indiana. I have spent two years of service in the FFA and in August I will start my career in the United States Marine Corps. I seek involvement in these types of organizations because they build my leadership skills so that I will have the confidence to go out into the world and do something about an issue that I am passionate about.

Climate Change is my issue.

I want to be someone who makes a difference and I am motivated by the love for my country and by the disappointment that I have with the direction this country has decided to take. Why do we have to lead the world in defense spending, incarcerated people, pollution, and the number of adults who still hunt Bigfoot for a living? We need to start leading the world in sustainability, clean energy, and environmental restoration.

It is time for us to show the world what the United States and Indiana are capable of accomplishing for the planet.

We have been offending our environment for years — the same environment that I rely on to help me do my job. As Hoosiers, we take pride in agriculture. However, it is a huge polluter. It is time for us to farm in a way that conserves resources and feeds the microbiology in soil. This is called sustainable agriculture and it is the solution to agricultural-driven climate change.

I understand that not every farmer wants to go sustainable or organic. They don’t have to but what they need are people like you all who are dedicated to the environment that can help these farmers reduce their environmental impact. That way, they will not face the irreversible and unimaginable consequences that will starve future generations.

Indiana agriculture, as well as many other industries, needs a climate action plan so we can build a healthy and inhabitable environment for current and future generations.

Indiana’s “Going Green Fest”

By Julia Wilson

As I walk into the Indiana State Museum, there are tables flanking the two-story “INDIANA” sculpture; everyone is setting up displays. I can tell they are preparing for something: there is a bike attached to some light-bulbs, a box full of dirt, various animal furs, a tiny electric car, a table of tree stumps, and a life-size wooden cow asking to be milked. There is even a lady covered head to toe in plastic bags and a man with a raccoon perched on his shoulder. There is an air of anticipation as I peruse the displays. Then, the yellow buses pull up and hundreds of children come flooding in...

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