An environmental advocacy group engages local teens in their efforts to tackle climate change.
Climate Reality Lansing was founded in August 2020 by Carolyn Randall, owner of Randall & Associates Publishing, who chairs the group, and Bernadette Osborn, senior at Okemos High School, who is vice-president. In August, group members helped push for climate protection providers to stay in the bipartisan infrastructure bill that was passed by Congress. The group is also pushing for carbon pricing.
“I’m just very happy that this is a group of active young people because I think, you know, it’s the young people who really need to take charge of this problem because it’s their future that will be affected the most by climate change. “said Randall.
This group seeks to meet with elected state leaders to talk about the climate issue and present educational seminars to educate the community about climate change.
Randall said the group was heavily led by high school students from Okemos. She advises them on how to lobby and campaign to become influential leaders.
She said the group’s biggest impact on Michigan is its ability to speak with members of Congress and raise awareness about climate change locally and statewide.
Osborn creates bi-weekly webinars for Climate Reality Lansing and presents to local schools to educate people on environmental topics like water pollution and climate change. She also organizes campaigns and manages networking for the group. She said the group’s goals are to build an active workforce and grow its campaigns.
“Keeping an active membership is difficult because a lot of people are bored,” Osborn said. “So we always have to make sure that we produce campaigns and give them jobs that they will want to do.”
She said one of the group’s main challenges is pushing through legislation.
“A lot of the Senators and Representatives we talk to, we usually talk to their staff,” Osborn said. They cannot directly say what the senator or representative thinks, so it is a little difficult to get through. It’s difficult, but we’re working on it.
Okemos High junior Arohi Nair, who serves as president of marketing, said Climate Reality Lansing is leading the way in environmental advocacy in Michigan.
“Climate Reality is a great organization, which is why there are chapters,” Nair said. “The great organization of Climate Reality, I think it’s pretty obvious that they’ve been doing a lot of activism and causing great changes, and so by creating this chapter, Bernadette, our president, was able to really target the local. level and focusing on the small scale of Lansing which really helps with climate justice in our community.
Nair said it was difficult to be a student-run organization because some people don’t believe what young people are saying and reaching out to older generations is an ongoing struggle.
Nair said she hoped local residents would see their group as an educational experience and to fight climate change. She adds that they are able to make a difference by discussing environmental issues and pushing for change.
“While there are things we can do at the individual level, systematic change is very important,” Nair said.