Today’s good people post focuses on young people, for they are the future of our world if we are to have a future, and frankly they have better sense than many adults if the ones I highlight in this post are any indicator.
First, I would like to introduce you to a young man, James Pearson. At age 17, James already far exceeds most people in terms of intelligence and compassion.
Growing up in Baltimore City, James Pearson of Baltimore, Maryland is no stranger to the impact of gun violence. Baltimore City has the second highest gun-related death rate and 2021 marked the seventh consecutive year that the city surpassed 300 homicides from firearms. After losing a family member to gun violence, James began to think of ways he could take action in mitigating these acts and reduce the homicide and non-fatal shooting statistics in Baltimore City.
In 2021, James launched the Gun Violence Awareness Committee at the Maryland nonprofit Let’s Thrive Baltimore where he served as a volunteer. Through the committee, James—with the support of three other youth volunteers—leads weekly trainings and facilitates conversations for youth in the Baltimore area. Topics, which engage anywhere from 50 to 100 youth, range from conflict resolution to meditation and mental health. The committee would also provide resources around employment preparedness and host job fairs to help youth from low-income families and those considered at-risk find jobs. In the past year, James and his fellow youth leaders held a workshop for over 100 youth on healing from adverse childhood experiences and childhood trauma and organized one-on-one prep sessions to support their peers as they completed job applications and practiced for interviews.
Understanding that a one-size-fits-all approach wouldn’t be the most effective strategy for his peers, James also looked into how environmental design could also assist in crime prevention. Per the crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED) approach, “when residents see spaces around their homes as their own, they are more likely to take care of those spaces and exert some positive influence over them”. As a result of James’ CPTED activities, he and his peers removed 80 bags of trash, planted nearly 100 shrubs, and removed debris from the area surrounding a local elementary school. By cleaning and beautifying the community around him, James hopes that youth see that they have a stake in their city and that they have access to a safe outlet through which they can make a positive impact.
Now how soon can we get James and some of his friends into Congress?
Next up is Ethan Bledsoe, a young man who genuinely cares about the environment, about our planet.
Growing up in rural Indiana, Ethan Bledsoe, age 18 of West Lafayette, Indiana, would frequently visit the nearby woods to observe nature and its fascinating inner workings: from the geometric construction of spider webs to the metamorphosis of tadpoles into frogs. Surrounded by nature, he learned to value the Earth and all that it gives us and developed a passion for protecting it. After moving schools in eighth grade, he encountered the concept of climate change through a fact poster in science class then spent hours doing additional research. Rising sea levels, worsening natural disasters, increasing land degradation, and rapid wildlife loss terrified him. He recalled his childhood in rural Indiana and knew that he couldn’t just stand by and watch climate change destroy the nature he loved.
While looking for ways he could make an impact, Ethan was disappointed by what he was seeing: there was a major gap in climate education; politicians would regularly sidestep their responsibility to create policy to address climate change; his city and new school weren’t taking the necessary steps to fight the climate crisis or educate students about climate change; and there was no push on them to change. Additionally, there was a complete lack of opportunities for youth to be involved in the political process or learn about climate action, let alone achieving climate solutions.
In response, Ethan set out to make projects that educate youth in his area about climate change and create opportunities for youth to be involved in the political process. He wanted to engage kids in his community through education and develop opportunities for youth. His first step was to organize a climate strike calling for his school to implement an AP Environmental Science course. Over 300 students attended the strike which led to the school administration approving of the AP Environmental Science course the following year! Ethan has also been determined to educate others directly, so he worked with STEAM programmers at the local library to implement an educational vertical garden program that educated kids on topics such as food insecurity and the importance of plants in climate resiliency.
Determined to increase the number of people provided with accurate information about climate change and actions to combat its causes and impact, Ethan created five little free libraries where the only things included are books and materials that are solely on climate-related topics. The libraries made climate education materials more accessible, equitable, and within walking distance of everywhere in the city. To continue to grow the scale of his work and increase education and advocacy efforts, Ethan launched Confront the Climate Crisis (CTCC), a statewide grassroots campaign. Through CTCC, Ethan and 30 youth activists lead service activities, provide opportunities for youth to take action, educate people about all things climate-related, and advocate for effective and feasible climate action policies.
Thank you, Ethan, for all that you are doing to save our home!
I had another, but I’ve run on long enough, so I’ll save it for next week. Remember, folks, despite all the ugliness we are seeing in people these days, there are good people out there, and these young people give me hope for the future of not only the nation, but the planet.