Energy & Climate Change

Published on October 11th, 2017 | by GrowWNYAdmin


Youth Voices: Buffalo Humanities Festival

Our Youth and Climate Justice Campaign Fellows participated in the UB Humanities Festival: Environments, on September 29-30th . They had front row seats for Bill McKibben’s keynote address, had a special meeting with him to talk about their work and ask him for tips on being climate justice advocates, and led and moderated a session featuring the performance of a segment of Ujima Theater’s Free Fred Brown followed by a panel discussion on youth voices in the local climate justice movement. It was quite a weekend!

Here’s what our youth had to say about their experience:

“This weekend at the Buffalo Humanities Festival was super fun! It was empowering to sit on a panel with my peers and share out experiences of being a young leader in Buffalo. It was also super encouraging being around adults who listen to and respect my perspective as an inheritor of the climate crisis we live in.” – Birch Kinsey (Buffalo, NY)

“I enjoyed most of the weekend, from hearing Bill McKibben speak at the beginning, to learning about Coral reefs at the Humanities Festival when the panel was over. A great part of it for me, though, was hearing the other people in the group talk about their own experiences in MAP and PUSH Buffalo which I haven’t had because I’m not from a font-line community. It’s always beneficial to get a different perspective on the place you’ve lived all your life.” – Cara Padlog (University at Buffalo student)

“My weekend at the Buffalo Humanities Festival was amazing and informative. I learned and connected with different youths of similar interest and background at the festival, heard and conversed with quite a few people on many different important topics, and learned more about the current state of the work that’s going on right now to preserve our climate.” – Gabriel Cohen (Buffalo, NY)

“I was so glad to be in a room with some activists that are doing most amazing things in the community. And I had an opportunity to meet Bill who’s an inspiring man and I was glad to run a session with youths and him – I felt empowered because of the amazing conversation we had.” – Ingabire Amida Adam (Buffalo, NY)

“I loved everything about this weekend, from meeting Bill McKibbens and making a personal connection to someone we both knew, to the delicious food provided by the West Side Bazaar. Before our youth panel discussion event, a speaker was spinning an eloquent story about the bears of North America, and what really got me is when he pulled a handkerchief from his pocket, stood on it, and told us that putting a bear in a cage is like him living on that tiny square for the rest of his life. My favorite part, however, was moderating the panel discussion. I felt empowered that I was the one who got to decide what we talked about. Even when we were way ahead of the original agenda, I figured out we could take questions from the audience and I made it happen, and I think that’s really cool.” – Lucy Handman (Buffalo, NY)

“What I so loved about the Buffalo Humanities Festival was the shared sense of responsibility among everyone in attendance to really do something to change the problems we face. Not only was this a way for the community to further educate themselves on our changing climate, but so many people came together to offer help and support for the projects of their neighbors.  To quote Bill Mckibben, ‘For the past 50 years, neighbors have been optional.  In the coming decades, they will be essential.’ Buffalo proved itself a worthy city in this manner, showcasing nothing love and support for one’s neighbors.”  – Nicole Stephan (University at Buffalo student)

“I had an amazing time this past weekend at the Buffalo Humanities Festival. Just being around a group of people my own age with the same passion as me was really inspiring. Talking with Bill McKibben and other respected adults made me realize that what we as youth say and believe is respected by adults, even when we think it may not be. Knowing that is very reassuring, especially when advocating for these issues. Overall, this weekend was motivating and taught me a lot.” – Skylar Moffett (East Aurora, NY)

“This event was very interesting to me because I love nature and I’m concerned about the what’s happening around the world. Climate change and global warming are the biggest problem that most rich people don’t event think about. This event impressed me because so many people actually taking action against it. I would love to continue working with this Climate Justice campaign.” – Zarifa Jan Del (Buffalo, NY)

And here is what we heard from an earth science teacher working to support our youth:

“Many times when I discuss climate change in my classroom, students become impassioned and oftentimes exceptionally frustrated with the oppressive burden previous generations have bestowed upon them.  They want to know, ‘what can I do?  I’m only fifteen!  How can I fix this?!?’  After meeting with Bill McKibben, hearing him speak, and listening to the youth of WNY discuss ways they are trying to make a dent in the climate change crisis, I feel that I now have some guidance and motivational messages for these students.  These conversations have inspired me to create a formal guide for kids to help them decide on steps to take in their near future to join the campaign towards climate justice.” – Kelli Grabowski (Cattaraugus-Little Valley High School earth science / GIS teacher)

Want to learn more about our Youth and Climate Justice Campaign? Want to join us? For more information on this initiative and to learn about the opportunities for you, your organization or youth to join, please contact Derek Nichols at

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One Response to Youth Voices: Buffalo Humanities Festival

  1. Lynda Schneekloth says:

    Thanks to all the young climate leaders for your messages. They give hope to us old folks!!

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