Greetings, emerging iMatter Movement! I am Rachel Dawn-a social justice advocate and transformative leader born in Bogotá, Colombia and bred one town over from Bogota, New Jersey: Teaneck.
I am thrilled to have linked up with Alec and the Kids v. Global Warming leadership to help build a lasting youth led movement to focus our collective future. We will only create serious change in the U.S. by listening to those this future will affect most: our children.
Throughout the past several years I have advised businesses, strategized for government agencies, and built coalitions within communities successfully empowering people in every sector to maximize what time and resources we have at our disposal to do the right thing.
“Why do you do what you do?” This question was posited to me both by a doctoral student conducting research in sustainability leadership out of the U.S. Virgin Islands as well as my Social Innovation Fellows at our annual summit in D.C. two weekends ago. I will take this entry to begin answering that question.
I started organizing politically after moving in with my grandfather to care for him following my Economics and Spanish studies at Rutgers University. While managing at a defense litigation law firm, I read, and read, and read, and what I did not find in the mainstream news, I sought to find in my community, the one that produced me. The Fall of 2004, I attended an open forum for potential candidates for Teaneck’s City Council and found a group loosely affiliated with Democracy for America, Howard Dean’s 50 State Strategy. What started as a small group of concerned citizens, I launched into a national blog on DFA’s website called Global Warming Is Child Abuse (GWICA). Tying in with my sorority’s philanthropy, Prevent Child Abuse America, we came up with this take notice name to lend credence to the population our ignorance would ultimately unhinge. Following that rich simultaneous grassroots and private sector managerial experience, I became the first graduate of The New School’s Sustainability Management Master of Science program, where I held various leadership roles empowering that community’s actors to advocate for real change. I believe students are our best hope toward achieving long term economic, social, political, and environmental sustainability.
Perhaps I feel such a duty to protect and empower children because I still am one. No matter how many years I acquire, I describe myself first and foremost as a granddaughter. My grandparents instilled in me from a very young age that every generation should have it better than the one before it and so on. For 30+ years, which includes my entire life, the refrain my generation has been sold has not changed. “Fossil fuels, clean coal, mountain top removal, nuclear power, hydraulic fracturing, tar sands, carbon capture and sequestration, etc. are safe and still necessary energy resources.” Well, clearly that is not true. Clearly those who stand to profit from these resources are those who promote it. What’s clear is we require drastic, lasting change. Thanks to Kids v. Global Warming and the iMatter Movement, children are empowered to lead that charge, carry the torch, and set an example for generations with voting power at the polls and in corporate boardrooms.
It is not enough that we come together to show solidarity with the new evolving global revolution known as #ows. We the environmental justice movement, the social justice movement, the human rights movement, etc., must all come together as one. For too long these movements have been segmented within themselves and with relation to each other. There are so many issues we face that to be successful as we confront and convert key decision making humans, we need to communicate frequently with one another, learn from each other, and listen. The 1% has money and media outlets, as do the 99%. Through the use of our unprecedented technological mechanisms, we have opportunities to perfect what attempts movements of the past botched. Real time transparency has been largely achieved with twitter, Facebook, and blogs but I am interested in what we are doing with this viral muscle. What’s our work-out plan toward accountability? How do we turn informational dominance into tangibly successful political and economic action? I look forward to receiving many answers to these questions as we press onward.
SO-join our facebook page, follow us on twitter, and, if you’re a youth interested in expressing your personal stories, ideas, insights, you matter. The iMatter Youth Council is mobilizing a network of passionate young advocates to lead the way to a sustainable and just future for all. Fill out the iMatter Youth Council application survey and please feel free to get in touch with me at RachelDawn@KVGW.org
As Thomas Jefferson once said, “Every generation needs a new revolution.” This is ours.