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A pomegranate tree for Sebastopol


Sunday, the 8th of October, 2017, 5 students from California participated in the kick-off of Plant-for-the-Planet in the Bay Area! It was originally planned for and hosted by the Hessel Guild but at the last minute we were invited to hold it at the Rahus Institute, where we could learn more about the Solar Schoolhouse and our hosts could show us solar power in action. We heard about Rahus and the Solar Schoolhouse because of the outreach we did through 350 Sonoma, which led us to Tor Allen and his Institute. The Academy was organized by Beth Lewis, the friend since college of Plant-for-the-Planet U.S.’s Acting Executive Director, Pam Vergun. It was planned as an additional opportunity to follow the Academy in Sacramento the day before. Pam had arranged for a team to come from Oregon to lead both trainings.

Five students aged 13 to 19 from two states and five cities (Sebastopol, San Rafael, Camp Meeker, and Mill Valley in Oregon; and Rockport in Washington) represented four schools: 1 combined elementary and middle school (Salmon Creek School — A Charter), 2 high schools (Analy High School and Branson School), and 1 college (Evergreen State College). The oldest student joined us after hearing Miko’s presentation the night before on nuclear testing and climate change in the Marshall Islands. And, since she was interested in becoming a program coordinator and was willing to learn as a student, we made an exception in spite of her age; her participation made it more enjoyable for the other students as well.

The morning of the Academy, Pam and Beth met at the Hessel Guild and made the final decision to move to the Solar Schoolhouse. We notified the registered students and left a note on the door in case anyone arrived unannounced. Pam took photos of the Guild for a future Academy. We then joined everyone at the Solar Schoolhouse and quickly set up for the day in their classroom. Students and parents arrived at the Solar Schoolhouse and were met by volunteers who took care of any missing registration information. They were greeted by the Ambassadors leading the Academy: Miya, Lilly, Miko, Isaac, Mario, Lene and Hazel. Pam introduced Plant-for-the-Planet. Next, Ambassadors Miya, Lilly, Miko, and Isaac gave the presentation.

Then, we took a break and enjoyed a delicious snack.

We played the World Game. Then, we turned to Rhetoric Practice and discussed what makes a speech effective and gave out the slides with the presenters notes so students could practice giving small parts of the talk. Pam worked with the students to help each decide who would present which slides in the afternoon.

We then went to plant the pomegranate tree that Beth had given us. With the help of ambassadors, students planted it in a big oak barrel as there had not been time to prepare the ground: the Allen family promised to replant it nearby as soon as possible.

Then, we sat at the picnic tables near where the parents' meeting had been, near the solar ovens, and had a great lunch with all sorts of options. Only the ice cream bars weren’t made using the solar ovens! We talked about the importance of taking only the food we know we can eat and making sure that nothing is wasted—that we can save leftovers and compost all that is left or can’t be eaten, and recycle all that can be recycled.

Then, we went straight to the afternoon presentation, to make more time for the afternoon’s hands-on activity with solar energy.

All the students presented, most keeping to their resolution to presenting without notes. The students from Oregon who had become Ambassadors the day before helped as well by presenting some of the slideshow. The presentation was attended by the families of the students.

Students received their appointments as Climate Justice Ambassadors, along with certificates, Tree by Tree, Everything Would Be Alright, signed portraits from NASA Astronaut and Environmentalist Stanley Love, and, from the Solar Schoolhouse, stickers, window clings, the newspaper “Your Solar Home: Using the Sun to Heat, Cool, and Power Your Home”, the book Your Solar Home—Student Guidebook—The Art and Science of Heating, Cooling, and Powering Your Home with the Sun, and the DVD “Solar Decathalon: A Solar Village on the National Mall” . And, of course, we got some great photos and videos.

Bill Rensmith led his first outdoor parents’ meeting at an Academy, and it was extremely well received. We started these meetings to help parents get a better understanding of parents’ imperative role in helping their Ambassadors be successful at making change. Parents really appreciated the chance to talk with each other as parents about the climate crisis. And, the Allen family provided delicious snacks for the parents!

We would like to thank all those involved in this wonderful Academy. I think the Ambassadors and their families appreciated the work that Pam and Beth had put into the Academy. Everyone agreed that Miko, Isaac, Lily, and Miya did an awesome job leading the Academy, with assistance from Lena, Mario, and especially Hazel, and that Bill’s parent meeting was excellent. Special thanks to the generous support of the Allen family, who volunteered at the Academy and in other ways.

We deeply appreciate the kind donation by the Rahus Institute and the Solar Schoolhouse of the use of their beautiful school. And, thank you to Rob for all he did behind the scenes. And, as always, we appreciated the help received from many others.

You can enjoy more pictures of the Academy here.

You also want to become a Climate Justice Ambassador? Then register for an Academy in your region here.