by Robert Gardner, Think Green Correspondent
The world is forever changing. Seasons come and go, and with them their fads, fashions and flings. “In” or “out?” “Hot” or “not?” For environmental activist Emily Hunter and many young people like her, it’s NOW or never.
In The Next Eco Warriors, published in 2011, Hunter compiles the stories of 22 such men and women who are making a difference in the race against climate change. Less than two years later, she remains at the forefront of this critical youth movement.
On Monday, Feb. 25, Hunter comes to Montgomery County Community College to share stories from her own life leading up to the book. She will discuss the latest evolutions, since the book, as well as how more of her generation has gotten drawn into activism.
“We need to look outside the choir” she said in reference to those who have not yet become involved. However, attracting the layperson can prove difficult. There are stumbling blocks to any movement.
“We try to avoid stereotypes,” she said, adding with a laugh, “You know, ‘granola,’ ‘tree-hugger.’ We’re trying to re-define activism for the new generation.”
Speaking at campuses across the United States and Canada, Hunter stresses “finding out our own tools.” Her presentation showcases several examples of how the creative mind of the individual can offer workable solutions for many, including a young professor who improved home water filtration.
“There’s such diversity of talents. We want to develop a culture of activism.”
Social media has become synonymous with social change. Hunter, the self-described “eco-media” warrior, recognizes that the majority of US teens get their news digitally. Something happens, then it happens on Facebook, on Twitter, etc. Hunter maintains a page on each.
“[I will use] any and all megaphone to get the message out,” she confirmed. “Every medium,” adding that online digital media is constantly being used to tell local stories as well.
She points to the Fossil Free campaign as one big story that the youth has become aware of through digital media.
At 256 campuses within the United States and Canada, students are campaigning to have their colleges and universities immediately freeze any new investment in fossil fuel companies and divest any endowment funds currently based on fossil fuel public equities or corporate bonds.
Fossil Free is organized by and through 350.org, whose Communications Director and Co-Founder, Jamie Henn, is featured in The Next Eco Warriors.
“This campaign represents a new evolution of activism, which I find exciting!”
Through tireless effort, Hunter spreads her message. She may also spread herself a little thin in the process. Rushing from Washington DC to Toronto and then off to the Tar Sands of Alberta, Hunter hardly takes time to eat. She gives interviews from moving vehicles.
“Sure, I’ve definitely experienced burnout,” she admitted. “Like after Copenhagen [Climate Summit, 2009], I had a real moment of Where do I go from here? When I get that feeling, you know, it doesn’t feel quite enough? I look within my own life, my own talents and tools. As long as I know I’m trying, the impact can be small or large. That keeps me going.”