tv [untitled] June 29, 2012 11:30pm-12:00am EDT
dignity, of proud people in every corner of the world they are about fundamental proof that no society is immune. we rightly approach our engagement with a large dose of humility, but looking back on the drl, when wave after wave, democracy has formed in -- the world is a better place today because you took the long arm of american foreign policy and bent it towards justice. drl has led by the motto don't make a point, make a difference, and as we look back at american diplomacy, it's clear what a difference we have made. you help us to be the nation we aspire to be. and you help us exercise leadership in can more peaceful and more secure world. but our work is far from done, and with the growing voice of civil society around the world,
we need drl now more than ever. all of us understand the tough work ahead, from stopping the horrific shellings to rebuking inciten of -- from standing up against honor killing to ending forced labor. from nurturing new democracies while making sure that while the government may throw -- no government can make the world forget about them. fortunately we have one of the most passionate advocates that i know through her words and her deeds, secretary clinton has used her unique stature, her frankness and her confidence to fight for and win a place on the world stage for so many who had been regulated to the shadows, to religious minorities, to youth, to the disabled. and by helping so many people
live up to their god-given potential, we have lived up to our potential. we look forward very much to continuing down the road of history, thank you very much and keep up the great work. >> thank you, bill, and thank you all again for being here. have a great weekend. coming up on cspan, the commonwealth club of california features a panel of youth environmental activists. and women in business from the university of colorado at bolder. coming up next, a discussion on youth and environmental activism.
>> work to climate one, a conversation about america's energy and economy. today we're focusing on what college students and other youth are doing to advance a transition toward a clean and prosperous economy, 2011 was a year of climate extremes around the world. would result from the evidence of carbon pollution in the atmosphere. with mother nature screaming at us, republicans and democrats are running for cover.
baby boomers are refusing to clean up their mess and now the kids are starting to call them out. over the next hour, we'll discuss what america's youth are doing to protect their resources for the future at the commonwealth club in san francisco, we have a live audience today including school children and their families from around the san francisco bay area, and on our stage, we are pleaseded to welcome three college advocates. abigail boren in the middle -- tanya polido here on my right is a student at contra costa college here in the bay area. this is a stanford student, litigation plaintiff and claims against the state of california
and a winner of the prestigious broward youth award. welcome. >> thank you all for coming. i want to hear about your stories and a thumb nail of what got to you this point. let's begin with you, tanya. a few years ago, you were on not such a good track going to high school in richmond. how did you get involved in environmentalism and get on a different track? >> well, my involvement with environmental activism and community activism stemmed from my personal problems. i was going through an identity crisis. an economic crisis left me and my family unemployed and we were about to lose our home. just a really bad relationships and friendships. i basically hit rock bottom and it made me question my future. as i asked personal questions, that led to me asking community questions. it was one question in particular that really led me to ask broader questions. i accepted that i didn't do very
well in high school and i wasn't doing really well in life. i didn't have a job and wasn't doing well at contra costa. i asked myself, why is it that so many people in my community are facing the same problems? that led me to ask more questions. i started seeking for answers and i started watching the news and documentaries. i learned more and more about the injustices happening in my community. i started with the richmond refinery and that led me to do environmental work and i'm doing urban agriculture, community urban agriculture. >> so you decided -- you started watching which documentary? was there any one in particular that kind of awakened you?
>> i started watching documentaries about oil. that really awakened me because it was personal to my life. attending richmond high, our mascot is an oil funnel. >> we should clarify that they have a large oil refinery. >> the single largest green house emitter in california. it refines about 250,000 barrels of oil a day. i didn't really know very specific information. all i knew is that my mascot was an oil funnel and at the age of 18, i was going to receive money due to an explosion that i was super excited about, but i didn't realize the magnitude and the influence had in my community and state-wide and globally. i started watching documentaries about oil and learning more about the chevron refinery which then i connected to a lost other movements and issues that were happening as well. >> let's turn to your story. a tough act to follow, yeah? when did you get involved in
environmental issues and how did that get you where you are today? >> my story is definitely not as cool. sorry to disappoint everyone. i guess i started when i was really young. i think when i was like 8 or 9. i just read and i had a very, very -- like an 8 or 9-year-old perspective. it may seem similar to adults, back when i was a kid, these were pretty enormous regulations to me. when i was a kid, i read cnn, i read the news, okay, that's really weird now that i say that, i read them and i very quickly developed the sense that since humanity is part of the
biosphere, we should take care of the biosphere, most likely it's going to hurt us in the long run and in the short run. we are connected whether we want to be or not to it. therefore we heard the biosphere, it will hurt us in the long run and short run. i felt like even from a young age, we have a vested age in protecting the either and nature. i didn't know at the time what it meant. this manifesting later on when i started an international nonprofit when i was 13, it wasn't originally a nonprofit. i started the nonprofit and what we did was we planted a biofuel shrub in rural south india. we tried to use that as a source of sustainable biofuel in the area that to not only be a source of biofuel, but lift rural farmers out of poverty. what we are currently doing is focusing on environmental education and in haiti and india and in the oakland and hayward area here. that has led me to a lot of places included here right now.
that's my story in a condensed nut shell. >> you joined a suit against the state of california. how did you get involved in suing the largest most powerful state in the country? >> the largest and most powerful. i like that. california. i still love my state. i think we are the best state. california for those of you who don't know, water is considered to be a public trust. the basic -- there is a lost legal terms associated, but the basic principal is companies can't dump toxic waste in the water because the water is used by everybody on some level. it would harm everybody, therefore everyone actually owns it. in a sense everyone owns the water and no one owns the water. you can't dump stuff into it. the atmosphere would be classified as a public trust as well.
which means that there very strict limits on what you can and cannot dump in the atmosphere. one of those would be carbon dioxide emissions. just methane, for example. what we were trying to do basically is the legal part is california would have to crack down on a lot of pumping and dumping and other toxic guesses like sulfur dioxide like other ramifications on the atmosphere. this was a very, very big legal endeavor and very similar activities such as other environmental groups and other states were lobbying to have the atmosphere considered as a public trust. we were doing this not just on the state level, but the federal level as well. we dropped it for the time being, but it was a landmark endeavor. we were trying to get the atmosphere lobbied, but for the first time in well, really, the youth was a massive driving factor behind us.
normally we have like old people, not old people, but older people doing this kind of thing. i realize i am a comparative youngin', but the youth was really, really a motivating factor and we were trying to lobby that as a factor. we are the ones that are impacted by climate change and environmental degradation as a whole. we should be speaking out and pushing. now i think the government even on the state level, kind of surprised. yeah, these are also going to be the main voting constituents. they have to start noticing this. to vote them out of office, it's a landmark endeavor in a lot of ways. that nut shell got a lot bigger, but okay. >> we had former congressman pete mcclouski who is here who
is part of that. he said it's going to be the young people who will force the people in power to make changes. abigail, let's talk about your story. you grew up on a dare farm and ended up in durbin. connect the dots for us. >> when i was growing up, every summer i spend on a farm outside of poughkeepsie, new york, milking cows and feeding chickens and gardening. when i decided to figure out where i was going to college, i fell in love with vermont and ended up at middle bury. the semester leading up to the conference and figure out how to deal with the climate change issue. my friends came back disillusioned by the conference. i knew i had to continue that energy and youth involvement. i spend a fair amount of time that year working on vermont energy politics and i was in mexico and then in south africa working with the international youth delegations.
>> we will show a brief video of abigail bora in the global united nations conference and the scene is the lead u.s. negotiator todd stern talking. let's roll that. >> you have three minutes. thank you. >> what are you doing to me? we need fair conditions and legally binding treaty. you must take responsibility to act now or you will threaten the lives of the youth and the world's most vulnerable. you must set aside partisan politics and make politics dictate and not expectations. 2020 is too late to wait.
>> what was your name? >> abigail bora. >> from which group? >> the united states youth. >> why did you interrupt this forum. >> the united states government does not speak on my behalf. >> abigail bora. >> give us the back story and how that came about. what prompted you to disrupt? >> this is the second to last day of the negotiations. about 20 young people from the u.s. had been at the negotiations. for the two weeks that we were there, we kept on having to answer for our country and we
were talking to young people from across the world saying why isn't the u.s. taking more of a position of leadership on this issue. we were frustrated in watching the country not have the necessary urgency or ambition. and that being said, there wasn't that much pressure being put on the u.s. from the media and civil society and other governments. they were sitting like the elephant in the room. as young people, we felt that we had to call our country out and make sure people knew that we didn't think the government was speaking on our behalf and we tried to push for more urgency and ambition. >> and what's been the response since that time? people come up to you et cetera, what do you think has been the response since that time? what has been the response after that event? >> it's interesting you saw in the video. the moderator said no one is listening to you. i didn't hear him when i said
that and i kept on speaking. i think the response that is that people were listening. when young people speak up, people do listen. we don't have to be told that we need to wait until we are older to have an influence and shouldn't speak now. we have to get degrees and we have to see the world and then we will understand. i think it shows as we can all probably attest is that when we do speak up and act, people are watching. it makes an influence. >> your point about the u.s. not being a leadership this weekend, "the washington post" wrote an editorial saying the u.s. was delinquent in leading the world on energy. that is a sentiment that resonates in the establishment and "the washington post" editorial page. this last weekend. let's talk about food. food is an issue you have all been involved in and something everyone can relate to and youth can connect with. tanya, let's talk with you about how you grabbed on to food as a way to connect to the environment with your own personal life and those around you.
>> yeah. when i started community activism, i started with the refinery and i was doing advocacy and i soon found out that not many people were interested in that issue because there were other pressing issues in their lives such as poverty is and drug abuse and violence. i then realized i had to find something that everyone had in common and regardless of the race, economic status, we can all come together in this issue and work together. that was one of the ways i got involved with food. on the greenway which is where i work, we have garden biz. what makes it unique is there no fences. people can come and join whenever they want. that's what i was aiming for. i wanted to create a common space where people can join
regardless of whatever they were dealing with or their economic status. that's where really i started getting more involved with food. >> this is a garden with no fences. can people steal the food? >> they are more than welcome to steal the food. that's the purpose. >> you also got involved in food in your school where youth get connected. the food in your school was not so good. is that something you got involved with as well. >> that's something i want to. >> you want contra costa college to have organic food. >> all public schools i believe should have a local farm that they are getting the food from. especially because educational institutions basically show students the principals and the philosophy of life and how we should be. i think public schools should lead by example.
the fact that schools, a lot of public school lunches serve pizza or hamburgers is unacceptable. that needs to be changed. that's an issue i want to work on in the future. >> let's hear your connection with food. you worked on the obesity issue. talk about food as a connecting point for the youth. >> i didn't have much of a background with food at all, but one of the organizations i work with is the youth venture. what they do is a social entrepreneurial work. one of their big focuses is food justice. i had no idea. i guess i got from the name that it had to do something with food and justice, but beyond that, i learned quickly that food is really a uniting factor. when people say oh, well, what's an issue that connect it is people regardless of race or gender or economic status. food is the connecting factor. by giving people access to healthy affordable food and
regardless of where they live or what their economic status is, you solve a lost other problems at the same time. you can solve poverty and drug issues in the area. also foster a sense of community. that is critical to making their lives better. that's what it's all about. we are trying to make people's lives better. food is not one of the easiest, but one of the best ways to go about doing so. it's something that the youth can get involved in. you don't need to have a degree to do these things. you need to want to have healthy food accessible that is something that a lot of people share. thus i got really involved with the groups that are currently pursuing food justice in the oakland area. it is encouraging to see so many youth what have gone through so many personal hardships that i can't even describe. we are still committed to you that you have food justice and
having food accessible to everyone. that resonates as an example that this is something i think everyone should focus on. >> the idea that somehow organic food is only for those people and shouldn't be for those to go to a full paycheck and that sort of thing. let's get your connection on the food as an issue. >> i grew up working on a dairy farm and think for me, that helped launch me into working on the youth climate movement because it instilled a lost values. i was responsible for the task of collecting eggs or i was responsible for a certain part of the garden. those ideas of responsibility and ownership are important for young people. a lot of things we don't feel ownership over. the idea that i can participate in something and see tangible changes and if i didn't water or weed, it would affect the success of the crop and bringing
the values into something like being a part of the political process when we are engaged in making food and growing food, we show how those connect to being engaged in other decisions. >> there is another aspect and what people eat may be a bigger contributor to their carbon footprint than what they drive. there is fossil fuels that go into the production and the personal carbon footprint. another aspect related to foods is green jobs and the idea that they are related to jobs and these new technologies and something they can't be exporting. and something they can't be exporting. that is something that is a concern in richmond. >> we have a high unemployment rate. one of our sayings is we just don't grow food, we grow people because we're seeing urban
agriculture as a tool to educate people on bigger issues. we recognize that we need to change a culture that creates violent cycles and abusive cycles. we are trying to change it as a hub where people can coming to and talk about the larger issues and share this intimate experience of eating food together. >> you get to vote with your fork three times a day. so's an area where people can have an impact and you don't have to be 18 to do that. let's talk about voting. is that a meaningful expression? do you think that voting matters or some people think well, voting doesn't matter. they don't bother to vote. do you vote every election? >> yeah. >> i just turned 18. >> you are about to vote for the first time. >> yep. >> do you think your vote will have an impact? >> yeah. to be perfectly honest. okay, i guess my individual vote probably doesn't count, but the
idea is that if 100,000 or a million people say my vote doesn't matter, i don't need to explain why that statement is wrong. how many young people don't vote? each individual vote matters because if everyone has the idea that my vote doesn't matter, nothing happens. the people -- we can explain about the people that we don't want are in power or the laws are getting passed. if all the people who genuinely didn't like the laws actually went and voted for the people or laws they wanted, i'm pretty sure we could get that changed. that change would happen. our politicians despite the fact that a lot of them with bought out with corporations and they tell accountable to us in a lot of ways. they still want us to be re-elected. one vote doesn't make a difference, that's a pretty big lie. and anyone who says that, i
completely disagree with them and if everyone really honestly voted and cared, if you genuinely think your vote matters, then it does. you can get people to motivate that vote and get that change across. it's the only way that a lot of us have that kind of power, because a lot of us aren't rich enough to buy out policies. a lot of us don't have the desire or the ability to go and run for office, or run like a really important position and things like that. but we can vote with our vote, that's kind of redundant, but yeah, that's what i believe. >> our guests today, tonya, a student at contra costa college, and abigail bore are. i would like to get tonya and abigail to comment on whether your vote matters s that really a tool for change. >> we had a decision by the vermont house to close down our
nuclear plant which was providing about a third of our energy. some of my friends and i were thinking, wouldn't it be great if we could replace that energy with clean or renewable technologies. so during the governor's election, we spent about -- almost the entire year trying to get people mobilized on voting for the governor and we had a governor who was saying that i want to replace nuclear with wind or biomass. and we had to -- because it was the summer and students weren't in school and voting in a midterm election is really not that exciting. so we went to the top of mt. mansfield and registered voters who were hiking up the mountain. we had a tricycle and we had an inspiration station. we started riding all around the state registering young people
to vote that way. so we have to employ creative means to get people engaged, but i definitely think voting matters and the results of the election showed that young people did come out and started voicing their opinions. >> and was there a shift away from nuclear to the clean energy? or is that still in progress? >> it's still in progress right now, but we had a governor who came in and made a strong statement saying that he was committed to shutting down vermont yankee. >> do people think that the system can work for them if they engage that way? >> there's definitely people who believe their vote doesn't matter. but i have worked with a group of people who do see how their vote matters and locally, we have created a lot of change through policy, which, you know, proved to me that my vote really does matter. because for a while, i was kind of skeptical about voting, because i was like, oh, it's not going to really count or anything. but after being in the process, i realize, like, how powerful
that is when people unite and vote for one thing. >> and you made a video, an award winning video that was connected with proposition 23 in california a couple of years ago which was initiative to basically suspend california's main climate change law, it was backed by a couple of texas oil companies, was that impactful? >> definitely. yeah, it was. i got a crew of people, it was like me and four other people, most of them were younger than me and we went around basically and let people know about it and then asked them if we could videotape their response. p and for a lot of people, they didn't know. most of the people who we interviewed were people in high school, high school students. and it was like really interesting, even the personal connection, like us talking to them about it because some of them got even frustrated and mad because they didn't know, you know, so it was kind of like