We were so inspired by the massive outpouring of climate strikes and environmental activism throughout the world this past Friday, sparked by the comitted action of one person, 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, launching a school strike all the way across the world in Sweden.
The whole phenomenon reminds us and probably many YEA Campers of a must-see 3-minute viral video and TED talk called “Leadership Lessons from Dancing Guy,” which we have shown at every one of our 32 sessions of YEA Camp in one of our first workshops, Activism 101.
The theory of change posited by the video is that one person’s bold actions become “leadership” when they can get other people to follow them, turning them from a “lone nut” into a leader. “Following is an underappreciated form of leadership.”
And in that context, millions of us followers are taking leadership — even moreso those who are willing to be the “first followers” in launching an event in their area, organizing others, being in front of the mic (and therefore in a position to potentially be ridiculed like Greta and the “shirtless dancing guy” in the video), and bottom-lining the success of the events in their area.
We are so proud of the many YEA Campers who attended climate strikes in their area, who posted on social media and had conversations to inspire their friends to join, and who have been taking action to bring about a more sustainable future.
Check out these 3 videos by 3 amazing YEA Camp leaders — and followers.
Ananya Singh, 16-year-old environmental organizer from New Jersey
Have 13 minutes to be blown away by a speech by one of the most inspiring teenagers on the planet?
Ananya Singh is a 2x YEA Camper, starting when she was 12(!), a 2x YEA staff member, and all-around YEA Camp inspiration. She has told us many times that YEA Camp was her launching point to become an activist, and we couldn’t be more proud (and love her sporting her YEA Camp t-shirt too)!
Don’t have time to watch the whole inspirational speech?
Here’s one of our favorite parts: “How many people have ever listened to a little voice in their head tell them ‘I’m not good enough. I’m not strong enough to make a difference. What can I do?’ Let me tell you something. The demographics of people that is most likely to change someone’s mind about climate change is not scientists, it’s not professors. It’s not people who spend their lives working on environmental issues. It’s teenage girls like me…. You are smarter, stronger, more capable, bolder, braver, and more creative than you have been brought up to believe!”
Elyanna Calle, organizer of Olympia, WA, climate strikeSeventeen-year-old Elyanna Calle described organizing the climate strike in Olympia, WA, as “the best day of my life” and “by far my biggest accomplishment.” It was huge!
Over 2,000 people attended the stike, including an entire local middle school. “I know that people loved and will be changed by this and that’s the most humbling thing ever.”
We were extra proud when she told us that “I absolutely could not have achieved it without YEA Camp, the skills camp taught me, and the inspiration it gave me.” Eeek!!!
Watch the 3-minute video about the Olympia climate strike here.
San Francisco #ClimateStriker Sarah Goody
YEA Camper Sarah Goody was the “lone nut” in San Francisco, starting climate strikes there in April by herself. She has been continuing to protest every week, and over time has started attracting bigger and bigger crowds, just like Greta! She has also been drawing media attention, including from mainstream media like the local Bay Area ABC station and this amazing feature by Earthjustice (where she gives a shoutout to how YEA Camp helped her — woop woop!)
Seeing her weekly posts from the beginning of just herself or a few other people at the beginning turn into a huge movement turnout culminating in the massive turnout for this week’s international climate strike has been a huge inspiration.
These are just a few of the amazing youth organizing climate strikes around the country, and of course it is all the people standing beside and behind them that, again, turn them like Greta Thunberg, from a “lone nut” into the leaders that we need to bring about the change we need.