environmental change youth

West Oakland Youth Advocate for Environmental Justice

The youth watched teen environmental activist Greta Thunberg give a passionate speech to the United Nations last Tuesday.

We're so excited to start our fourth year of West Oakland Legacy & Leadership Project! This year, we'll be starting off at the Bioneers Conference; a yearly environmental gathering featuring activists, artists, musicians, and environmental specialists from around the world. Advocating for environmental justice is crucial for our community, as we know that residents of West Oakland are subjected to almost 3 times the average
air pollution in the bay area. We will be presenting a workshop titled Self
as Super Hero, Dream City Edition. The workshop is based on
Self As Super Hero, Handbook on Creating the Life-Size Self-Portrait
by AHC Executive Director Amana Harris.

We will also be bringing the ArtEsteem ArtMobile to the conference, creating a space for screen printing youth-made designs relating to environmental justice.

From top: “We Stand On The Shoulders of Giants…We Grow Their Seeds.” Design example for the Bioneers screen printing project. •Nirali Bhakta returns to WOLLP for a second year • College students from
CCA help out for the day.

After the Bioneers bonanza, we will be moving into our ROOTS unit, where students will explore their own ancestry, elders' stories, and histories of the land they live on. Throughout this interdisciplinary program, our students will root themselves more deeply in who they are and where they came from, so their activism and identities can be grounded in the stories of people who love them. We will be producing a final multi-media digital art piece, featuring interviews that youth conducted with community and family elders. 

We are also excited to begin on our garden, which has become very overgrown since we last worked on it during the summer. Our garden will address a very real issue in our community; the lack of exposure to fresh foods and sustainable practices. With a population of over 25,000 and only 2 full-scale grocery stores in the neighborhood, West Oakland has long been classified as a food desert. We will be weeding 6 ft. tall grasses, and bolted crops to make space for new seeds in our vegetable garden! Students will choose culturally relevant foods, asking their families what they used to grow, in order to inform our crop plan for the garden. This truly does round out our ROOTS curriculum, as we will be putting literal roots in the ground, as we grow food in the ways our ancestors did.

Chard, kale and flowers in our garden located at City Slicker Farms.

Neeka Salmasi, October 2019
Neeka is the head coordinator for West Oakland Legacy & Leadership Project (WOLLP). She can be reached at neeka@ahc-oakland.org