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PHS 8th Grade Student Places 2nd in Climate Justice Video Contest!

Thursday, April 22, 2021

This Earth Day, we celebrate PHS 8th grader Natalie Cavander who recently placed as a winner in the California Coastal Commission's 2021 Climate Video Challenge! This year, students were asked to answer the question: What does climate justice look like to me? Natalie's video won 2nd prize in the statewide competition and is linked here. Below, we asked Natalie a few questions about this competition, her work toward climate justice, and her hopes for the future. Amazing video, Natalie, and we can not wait to see how you change the world!

  1. How did you hear about the 2021 Climate Video Challenge and why did you decide to enter?
    I have been passionate about the environment for years now. This year, Colt (PHS 6th and 7th Grade science teacher) and I started organizing a climate committee, a group we hoped would work with the school to reduce PHS's footprint and make the students and faculty more climate aware. A few months ago, he added a link to an email that took me to the CA Coastal Commission's website. That's when I first discovered this contest. I chose to enter because I thought it was such a unique and interesting opportunity to share my voice and perspective about a topic I care so much about.
  2. How did you get involved with climate change/justice issues? 
    Growing up in California, I am lucky to be surrounded by nature, so the environment has been important to me for my whole life. But my first step into climate issues was in 3rd grade. I worked on a project that addressed the global crisis of plastic pollution in the ocean. I collected 100 used bottles and hung them from the ceiling of my classroom to represent a mere tenth of how much plastic was entering the ocean every second. Though in hindsight I was simply hanging trash from the ceiling, presenting my thinking and my understanding was empowering. Telling parents, peers, and teachers, “Please don’t use plastic bottles,” was empowering. Looking back, I see this was a turning point for me. I was discovering my passion and finding my voice. 
  3. What have been some of the things you've learned that you would want to share with a broader community of people about climate change/justice?
    The most important thing to understand about climate change is we have no time to mess around. I know it sounds pretty terrifying, but everything we do is impacting our planet. It is so crucial for everyone not only to be thoughtful about our actions, but to understand what we can do better. Because the truth is, there is so much, and it can be so easy to forget to make even simple changes (I still need to be reminded to unplug when I'm done charging devices!).
  4. What are your hopes for yourself in the future as a climate change/justice activist? What are your hopes for the world? 
    I hope that I will make a positive impact wherever I go, and equally importantly, inspire others to also take initiative and engage with both climate change and other issues they feel passionate about. As for the world, I hope that our leaders begin to prioritize the climate issue. I hope that our society starts to listen to the kids - I think most of us know more than people think :). I hope that we prioritize innovations and solutions rather than arguing whether this is an issue in the first place. And I hope that we appreciate our planet; it is beautiful and remarkable and the only one we've got. Well, until we figure out Mars I guess :)

Great job, Natalie, and thank you for your work to promote climate change and justice, and your activism and passion!