Future Focus

Young adults throughout Maine are innovating, organizing, and leading efforts to connect and address the most pressing social and environmental issues we face, and many have garnered statewide, national, and international recognition and accolades.  Join us for a youth-led monthly webinar series highlighting youth climate justice activists and their stories from across the state.  Each one-hour session will focus on a different individual and the intersectional leadership work they are doing in their community and beyond. 


NEXT TALK:
May 5, Wednesday, 7 pm: Season finale — POSTPONED

For a special evening, previous speakers and new voices will discuss ways to get involved with youth climate justice in Maine before Future Focus takes a break for the summer. Speakers include: Jess Cooper, Norway Climate Action: Cassie Cain and Ania Wright, Maine Youth Climate Justice: Anna Siegel, Maine Strikes; Amara Ifeji and Julia St. Claire, Just ME for Just US/Changemakers.  Bring your questions!
Please note: this event has been postponed. Date TBA! 


PREVIOUS TALKS:
March 2, 4:30 pm: Jess Cooper
Jess Cooper is a young mother, dancer, musician, community organizer, and an avid environmental advocate. She has centered her work around organizing youth in western Maine. Her focus is on projects that help create thriving environments for current and future generations to live, work, and play in. Jess is driven by strengthening connections in her community and throughout the state, and carries out this work through the Center for an Ecology-based Economy in Norway, ME, where she is the youth coordinator for the youth climate action team. She took up climate action advocacy after becoming a member of two key climate action coalitions in Maine: Maine Youth for Climate Justice and Maine Climate Action NOW!.

:: Watch the recording here (on YouTube)

Feb. 2, 4:30 pm: Josh WoodsJosh Wood–Class and race in rural areas

Josh Wood, 15, is a racial and climate justice organizer based in Sanford, Maine, and is the co-organizing director of Maine Strikes. He will speak about intersectionality to class and race in rural areas, how to make small towns more accessible and equitable, and how to make change on big levels in small places. Josh served as the youngest Communications Director in the state #BlackLivesMatter movement after the death of many Black people across America during a global pandemic. Through starting a petition to remove school resource officers in his hometown, awareness of racial justice issues have grown increasingly local to his area.  In August 2020, he helped create initiatives in Black Lives Matter Maine that have since seen the demilitarization of police departments in small towns, equitable changes to schooling, and more. He was recognized by the Portland Press Herald for his contribution to small town movements, and now continues to work with Maine Climate Strikes to pass county-wide climate emergencies and manage statewide action teams.


Jan. 5, 4:30 pm:Sirohi Kumar Sirohi Kumar–The dangers of performative activism
Join us for a conversation with Sirohi Kumar, 16, a climate activist in Bar Harbor, Maine. Sirohi’s talk will cover a relatively misunderstood topic in youth activism: performative activism. Using personal experience, Sirohi will dissect the mindset behind activism aimed at gathering social capital (called “cloutivism”), and discuss the dangers it poses to both youth activists and social justice movements. As a founding member of the Climate Emergency Action Coalition (CEAC), she helped pass a Climate Emergency Declaration in Bar Harbor and is currently serving as the Youth Representative on the Bar Harbor Climate Emergency Task Force. She is also a racial justice organizer and directly contributed to the formation of the AOS 91 Anti-Racism Task Force, upon which she currently serves as a student representative. 

:: Watch the recording here (on YouTube)


Dec. 1, 4:30 pm: Amara Ifeji–Using Education to MobilizeAmara Ifeji
Join us for a presentation and conversation with Amara Ifeji, Grassroots Development Coordinator with the Maine Environmental Changemakers and JustME for a JustUS. Amara’s work and talk focuses on using education as a tool to mobilize the youth climate justice movement, shifting the narrative around the climate crisis from a political issue to a social one, and framing climate crisis as an issue that disproportionately impacts marginalized communities. The conversation will be moderated by Anna Siegel. 

Amara Ifeji is an 18-year-old youth activist and freshman at Northeastern University. In high school, she led her school’s student-driven water quality management team, co-organized school-wide climate education learning initiatives, and joined the Maine Environmental Changemakers Network, where she now serves as the Grassroots Development Coordinator. Through MEEA Changemakers, and its project, JustME for a JustUS, Amara advocates for intersectional climate justice solutions and equitable access to the outdoors. Similarly, as part of several task forces and collaborative initiatives of the Nature Based Education Consortium, she advocates for policy level climate and environmental education reform in the state of Maine. For her work in promoting environmental education, she was awarded the North American Environmental Education 30 Under 30 International Award.

:: Watch the recording here (on YouTube)


Oct. 27, 4:30 pm: Anna Siegel–Becoming a Youth Activist Anna Siegel
Future Focus kicks off with a presentation by Anna Siegel. Anna is a 14-year-old climate activist living in Yarmouth, Maine. She is the Co-organizing Director of ME Strikes, a Core organization in the statewide coalition Maine Youth for Climate Justice. She is also an avid birder and photographer. In conversation with fellow youth activist Ania Wright, she will discuss her path to becoming an activist and a radical naturalist.

:: Watch the recording here (on YouTube)


Brought to you by Maine Audubon, Maine Climate Action Now, Maine Youth for Climate Justice, MEAA Changemakers, Southern Maine Conservation Collaborative