Sunday, 20 September 2015


Nan is a one-to-one math instructor in San Francisco, California. She has a Masters of Arts in Education from Stanford University. In addition to tackling the threat of climate change, Nan has been active in various movements through her life, protesting the nuclear arms race, neighbourhood gun violence, and supporting public schools, energy conservation and solar power.
I learned about activism at a young age. My mother was in the women's liberation movement in the 60s and 70s. I went to a women's conference with her in 6th grade. I think my first public action I participated in was a United Farm Workers picket at an A&P grocery store when I was about 13. 
I also remember the first Earth Day. I lived in a small town in New Jersey. I remember a bunch of people got together and cleaned up trash by the side of the road. 
As a teenager, I went to anti-nuclear and other rallies.
My biggest activism was in college related to the nuclear arms race. 
When I was in Oberlin College in 1980 or 1981, Ronald Reagan was talking about using nuclear weapons in a first strike. The cold war was really strong and it seemed as if the leaders were throwing around the actual use of these weapons in a dangerous way. 
I recall that some religious speakers came to my college and talked about the threat of nuclear war in a way that felt urgent and spiritually imperative. 
I was practicing Quakerism at the time. (I had gone to a Quaker high school). I felt as if my inner light was telling me that I had to work on this issue. 
Several of us organized a "Reverse the Arms Race" Conference at our college, and also did community outreach in Ohio near our college related to the nuclear arms threat. 
I did my own outreach as a Winter Term project in rural North Western Pennsylvania in the area where my mother lived. 
But I did get a bit doubtful about the effectiveness of political action while I was still in college. I got involved in some "human potential movement" work later in my college years. 
This was about the transformation of individuals and groups. I took courses about how to create breakthroughs, how to make a difference, how to empower other people. 
I guess I felt as if a lot of political work seemed to be sort of ritualistic and routine, and not getting to the most essential levels of change. 
Eventually I rebelled against the idea that I was supposed to devote my life to making a difference. I became focused on personal fulfillment and on how to have a successful romantic relationship. I think I "dropped out of society" in frustration with the conservative politics of the 1980s. 
Also, I am bisexual so there was an element of figuring out how to fully express myself with regard to my sexuality. 
Things changed a bit when I had my son. After a few years, we were living a bit more conventionally and I expressed activism by supporting public schools. 
Our schools were not that good and supporting the schools helped my own son but also a diverse group of children from all backgrounds.  
As regards climate change, my direct sense of urgency about the issue happened when I saw Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth". 
I completely got the message. I was emotionally moved and felt the same urgency that I had felt back when the Arms Race was the concern. 
I took people to see the film. I sent people copies of the DVD. 
My husband and I got focused on green building. He is a carpenter and general contractor. 
I took courses about solar. We put solar PV and hot water on our house. I went to lectures about energy conservation and climate change and similar matters. 
I applied for jobs in the solar industry but before I got one, I took a job doing outreach for my son's school, and got focused on the world of education instead. I had also been studying math and science and I decided to pursue becoming a math teacher.
I had graduated from Oberlin College in 1984 with a major in Religion. I went back to school starting in 2001 at our local community college. I studied math, chemistry, and physics. 
I did take a couple of short classes in ecology as well, about native plants for habitat restoration, and the ecology of the San Francisco bay. 
I earned my Masters Degree in Math Education from Stanford University in 2010. I got my math teacher's credential as well. 
I had applied to become a Climate Reality leader early on, maybe 2007 or 2008. But they didn't accept me then. 
Somewhere during the 2000s my activism was focused very locally, on trying to stop gun violence in our city. 
I live in a historically black neighbourhood, which has had a lot of problems with gun violence. We still hear gunshots from time to time but it was a lot worse when I moved here in 2001. A group called ACORN organized people here to work on this issue and I got involved. 
In January of this year one of my son's friends, about 19 years old, was shot and killed.

It was really terrible. He was an African American young man who had been coming over to our house since he was about 12. He was shot with three other young men. He was on a break from his job in a restaurant. 
I was very sad and shaken up, and found it hard to work. So I decided to see my psychologist. I have one I saw before and check in with every once in a while. 
While I was talking with her about the grief related to this young man, I also told her that I was worried about climate change. 
From talking with her, I decided to apply again for the Climate Reality Leaders Training in Toronto [July, 2015]. This time I was accepted. 
In February of 2015, I went to the March for Real Climate Leadership in Oakland, CA. I met these nice, friendly, women and marched with them. They were from Unitarian Universalist Churches. I have been involved with these churches before. 
Talking with one of them was when it occurred to me that I could contribute my curriculum writing abilities to the climate movement; that I could create curriculum on climate change that meets the academic standards teachers need to teach in math and other subjects. 
I am working on this now. I am creating a workshop on teaching climate change and connecting it to the standards, which I will be leading at the Teachers 4 Social Justice Conference in October.  
I am pretty emotionally based with activism. I need to feel connected with others. I also need to believe that my actions are going to lead to something constructive. I need to visualize the outcome. 
Right now, the way I am trying to get myself active is to find people to partner with on the issue of climate change. 
I think that is the power of our involvement, just naturally sharing with people about what we’re doing and what’s going on. Increasing the conversation everywhere about climate change. The authentic connections between people are our strength. And that is the antidote to the big money obfuscation of climate issues.

Saturday, 12 September 2015



Adam is a full time accountant in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He also has a part time business in income tax preparation. A graduate of the University of Winnipeg, he is currently taking an online program on Renewable Energy through the University of Toronto, with the intention of becoming a sustainability consultant. He has written for green tech blogs and about renewable energy. He also has his own blog site:

After seeing what happened with Hurricane Katrina (in 2005) and watching Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth (in 2006), it made me think about what we actually are doing to the earth. I think they were the main turning points for me to become an advocate on environmental issues.

Al Gore’s documentary put a lot of things into perspective. An idea that was once considered science fiction (climate change) now is slowly happening.

To me, become an advocate was not an overnight thing. Although I always supported green issues, I think it was a long process.

I guess first thing was that I decided not to buy a car. Cars are expensive and as a modest person, I get around by bus and bicycle. So I am happy with it. This was a choice that I made a while back, before university.

I bike or walk or use public transit to get around. In term of public transit in Winnipeg, while there have been some improvements, lots of work could be done, including adding more routes, expanding rapid transit, and providing better information to riders.

Public transit is one of the issues I care about.

I’m also interested in green tech issues.

I became interested in tech issues, and environmental economics, while attending the University of Winnipeg from 2008-2011.

I took courses on the environment, energy and natural resources economics.

I’m eager to see what’s possible, how far technology can go in pushing us towards sustainable development.  

I’m interested in how clean tech is changing the dynamics of energy, similar in a lot of ways to how information technology transformed everything.

I work full time as an accountant, and own a part time business, which involves preparing income taxes.

Currently, I am doing a professional development online program from the University of Toronto in renewable energy. I eventually would like to be a sustainability consultant.

I have written for a few clean tech websites, including CleanTechnica, and Solar Love, which allowed me to showcase my interest in renewable energy.

I find with environmental issues, it’s a re-commitment I keep doing. I do have moments of discouragement, and frustration.

But I just keep ploughing through.

It’s kind of like sports athletes who get frustrated at times when nothing goes right, but they often reload. Those athletes who overcome adversity are my favourites.

This is why I watch a lot of sports and play video games and cycle: to relieve frustration.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015


Karen Gabriela is a university student in Mexico City, Mexico. Her undergraduate thesis is on the capture of CO2. She has also founded an organization, Respira Verde, which has the purpose of educating children and teenagers about environmental problems. 

I became an environmentalist in 1999, when I was 6 years old, or maybe before...

I grew up in Mexico City, with the Discovery Channel, and in my country, the Discovery Channel and Discovery Channel for Kids broadcasted environmental documentaries most of the time. They were fascinating. They really made a statement on me. They made me realize that the biggest challenge for us were the environmental problems.

Even as a little girl, I understood that life, as I knew it at that time, wasn't going to be the life I would experience in my adulthood. And that made me really angry, frustrated and frightened. I wondered: Why am I going to pay the price of my elders' mistakes? Why weren't they more conscious? Why couldn't they be more intelligent? Why does my generation have to fix this? And why do other species have to pay the price of human blindness?

That last question was really the one that made me want to do something different.  Because maybe humanity won't change until they hit the bottom, but that isn't a valid reason to let other species experience the consequences of our faults. It isn't fair. So, I had to do something.

I tried to sign up in movements like Greenpeace, WWF, PETA, but as a teenager you can't do much in those organizations. I also became a vegetarian at 14 with all my family against me. I really didn't know what else to do besides that.

I thought that the environment should have been at the top of everyone's list.

More than a decade ago, so many documentaries on the Discovery Channel mentioned that global warming (because by then they just called it global warming, not climate change) was a lost battle, that there was nothing we could do about it (they blamed the disinterest of people, and inefficient global policies, etc.)

I thought different. I thought that there had to be something else, something unexplored. So I chose Chemistry as my way to solve the problem.

Now, I study Chemistry and my undergraduate thesis is about the capture of CO2.

I also have an organization founded in August 2014, which has the purpose of educating children and teenagers about environmental problems. The goals of the organization are to put environmental education at everyone's reach, to have a really good educational level, to create a sensibility in the future generations about our present environmental issues and how their actions have a direct impact in their surroundings.

Eventually, we would love to educate policy makers and companies.  To sum it up: we want to be the best organization of environmental education in Mexico! I think we have had a big impact on the audiences we had reached so far. Kids are really receptive to this kind of information, and we teach them with science experiments and demonstrations that they totally love. So, I guess we're going in the right way.

The name of my organization is Respira Verde:

Friday, 21 August 2015


Julie is an artist, teacher and environmental activist in London, Ontario, Canada. She has an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Fine Art from the University of Western Ontario, a Master of Fine Arts from the Instituto Allende in San Miguel Allende, Mexico and a Bachelor of Education from Althouse College, University of Western Ontario.

My defining moment was at my convocation at teacher’s college in 2005.

I was 48 years old and had spent the last 20 years or so studying art, travelling to Europe and completing my masters degree in Mexico at the Instituto Allende in San Miguel Allende in 1999, where I lived for almost 10 years.

I began teaching as a way to make money in Mexico and found I liked it and had a good rapport with kids.  So I came back to London, Ontario in 2004 and attended teacher’s college at Althouse College, University of Western Ontario, in 2005.

Having been in an art bubble for a long time, I was very unplugged from politics or world events.

I went to my convocation because I had met so many wonderful young women teachers and wanted to have a chance to say goodbye, because none of them were from London.

The speaker at the convocation was Maude Barlow, the Chair of the Council of Canadians, and although I had no idea who she was or what she was talking about, I found her to be passionate and articulate and inspiring. So I went to the library and found she had written a lot of books, especially about the water crisis.

When I located her books in the library, I first read her biography, which detailed her beginnings with the Trudeau government.  Her activism is legendary and I am so proud that we are now friends and meet in our work with the Council of Canadians.  I joined them right after the convocation but it took several more years of study and research and learning about the planet physically before I became an active member. 

The next thing that happened was that I saw Al Gore’s movie ‘An Inconvenient Truth’. 

Al Gore actually came to London, Ontario, and did his presentation at the London Convention Centre where I was bar-tending. I saw the reaction in the room to his slide show. They got up and gave him a very polite standing ovation and then they just stampeded out the door. It would seem they could not wait to get away from the information that he imparted.

That really sparked my curiosity and I started reading more on that subject.

For me, it has been the most wonderful learning curve as I become more educated about everything!

I had great teachers along the way...Rachel Carson, Bill McKibben, Naomi Klein, William Marsden, Timothy Flannery, Jared Diamond, Lester Brown, Annie Leonard, Tzeporah Berman. Allana Mitchell to name a few.

I watched documentaries on geology and climate, the arctic, the acidification of the oceans, the extraction industries, deforestation, pollution and consumerism, the tar sands...

I learned about physics and money and the stock market until all this info started spilling into my artwork and then into my teaching.

My preferred medium is batik.  You paint wax on cloth that resists the dye baths.  Each layer of colour is added on moving from light to dark.  It is a slow process that requires some patience and attention to detail. 
Sunfest: 2011  ©juliepickencooper
I am also an avid printmaker, working with lino and hand printing (as I don't have a press). I have recently been sewing pictures as next show will be entitled:  An Elephant Never forgets Climate Change. 

With all the research I was doing on topics about the oceans etc, I began making work about these subjects, marine life, which I had never considered before.

Sunfest 2011 @juliepickencooper

I also educate about the environment through a journaling project, called The Environmental Art Project.

I go into schools and we create books that experiment with different art techniques and push the layering of paint and crayons as far as we can go.  We prepare the page with colour, texture, writing statements. drawing and pictures.  I have been working on this for about 5 years. 

I was lucky enough to find a school that would let me test and work out my ideas with four grade levels.  I volunteered my time and the school gave 500.00 for supplies and I spent 6 months working with the students and trying out the ideas. 

A mini lesson would accompany each workshop about deforestation, ocean acidification etc.  I started the whole thing off with The Story of Stuff video, which I see as being the heart of the problem: consumerism.

From a grade 8 class
From a grade 8 class

I once did a grade 8 work-shop with 4 classes.  We did three workshops with the students and they produced this work, which was photographed and collected into a book that was sold to raise money for an arts/music/dance program for underprivileged kids.

 *artwork used with artist's permission

Sunday, 16 August 2015


Mandy is from Bridgetown, Barbados. For the last four years, she has been running an environmentally friendly business, Octopus Three, which makes recycled paper products, like gift cards and business cards from a mix of waste paper and banana tree waste. She also teaches the children of Barbados how to make recycled paper, and also about environmental issues, through her Environment Education Program. 

Seven years ago, I was talking to my neighbour about recycling. We were in his garden, after dinner, just good company, a nice warm evening as expected in Barbados.  

I’m not sure how the conversation started, but David, my neighbour, who is a very positive and educated man on many topics, started talking about recycling and having recycling bins in the community. 

We didn't have a recycling program in Barbados then—though we do now, we are finally putting that in action, alongside sustainable living. I was born in the UK, where it was familiar to recycle, so being in Barbados and not having recycling, when I threw certain things in the garbage, it always felt strange. 

While talking about recycling with my neighbour, it led me to say that I felt like I wanted to write an environmental magazine, but it had to be made with recycled paper. 

So afterwards, since I am an ‘acting person’, I taught myself how to make paper and started producing cards, business cards etc. 

Before I knew it, I had a recycled paper product business called "Octopus Three", registered in Barbados. 

Recycled paper is made the way paper has always been made. I collect shredded waste paper from offices, break it back down and add banana tree waste, if desired, to make a fresh piece of paper, which is biodegradable. 

In March of this year, I launched my Environment Education Program. It is a 3-day program whereby students get to make recycled paper, and we talk about environmental issues both locally and internationally, and also focus on solutions. EEP creates a fun way of exploring how we live our lives and how that is affecting the planet. 

Education is key to understanding anything, as a parent teaches a child to use a spoon, the same method can be used in Climate Change. First step: put it in their hands. Every piece a paper a child makes in my classroom, I am putting the solution in their hands.

When one of my students at the launch of my EEP program said the best thing about the day was that "the head mistress told me to come". I have and will never forget that moment as long as I live, to be told that by a child who was 6 years old.

The ministry of Education has given me a letter which states I can run this program in every school in the country and as of this September [2015] my first school is the school for the deaf. I want them to have a voice in the discussion.

I would describe myself as an environmentalist. I defined myself as such when I got accepted to go to the Climate Reality Leadership Training in Toronto (July 9-10, 2015). I have never forgotten that night of conversation at my neighbours 7 years ago, and what it has led me to.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015



Christina is the author of All Out of Womb: A Collection of Birth Stories. She works part time for the recreation department for the Town of Bracebridge, Ontario, Canada, and is the Founder of Little Sprouts Eco-Club in Muskoka; a non-profit organization that educates children on the protection of their local resources.

Years ago I had watched Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth, and while it opened my eyes to the state of our planet, I will admit, I was still in denial back then. After all, I didn't have kids. I was fresh out of college and just starting a lucrative job in the advertising industry. Life was good for me, and while his message was strong, and it did in truth shake me to my core, I figured it was a problem far into the future that I would one day need to deal with.

I feel as though that day is now.

Here I am at 32 years old, with two children and a husband, all of whom I feel responsible for ensuring a healthy future. Among other things, I can now see that climate change is a threat to that healthy future.

Aside from climate change, as a parent I’ve become concerned over the past few years about the foods and other household products my family consumes and uses. One could say this was the beginning of my passion for a better future for my family. After much research stemming from documentaries like Food Matters, Fat Sick and Nearly Dead, many Ted Talks and articles from Facebook groups like March Against Monsanto and Food and Water Watch, our family decided to make the switch to an all-organic, non-gmo (genetically modified organism) household. The entire process took about a year to overhaul everything, right down to my vegan mascara.

When it came to household purchases, I felt back in control of ensuring a healthy future for my children. However when it comes to climate change, I’ll admit this task seemed much more daunting. Sure I can purchase organic bananas and ensure that their shampoo is made from all natural ingredients, but how do I ensure that they have good air quality? Or that their water won’t become contaminated? How can I be sure that they will have the same opportunities growing up that I had, without thinking of the many natural disasters that could potentially destroy so much of their resources here at home?

These were all questions that I would lay awake thinking about. I had that familiar feeling that I had with the organic switch; something needed to be done. I couldn’t just stand back and watch all of these things happening and do nothing anymore.

That time is now.

I began researching ways to combat climate change and came across the Climate Reality website. It was as if all the stars were aligning. There just happened to be a free training coming up in a few months in the city of Toronto, just two hours away from my home! I applied, crossed my fingers and waited for a response. At 10:00pm on a Tuesday night a few weeks later I received an email from Mario E. Molina, the Director of the Training. I had been accepted.

Since coming home from the Climate Reality Leadership Training in Toronto [held in July 2015] I’ve felt a renewed purpose to advocate for my children and educate others on not only the bad news about climate change, but the GOOD news too.

It helps me to connect with my fellow Climate Reality leaders and see what they are working on in their respective communities. It not only motivates me to do more for my own community, but it reminds me that there are hundreds of others just like me who actually do care, and who are putting their emotions into action.

I truly believe when I walked into the Climate Reality training that I was on the right path in my life. I have always been one to recycle and compost and care about the Earth, but this has given me one big push to really take hold of it and give it my all. 

Monday, 3 August 2015

Welcome to the 'Green Awakenings' Online Anthology!

In July of 2015, I had the pleasure to attend Al Gore's Climate Reality Leadership Training Conference in Toronto.

There were 600 attendees, people from all walks of life, and from all over Ontario, and Canada and the world.

This was a life changing event, not just because I got to hear Al Gore speak so brilliantly on the issue of climate change.

But because I got to meet so many amazing people. Inspiring people. So called 'ordinary' people, like you or me, who are taking action on climate change and a wide variety of environmental issues.

At this conference, there was a moment when were encouraged to share 'our stories' at our table groups, stories about how we came to interested in environmental action, how we came to be at the conference.

After the conference, I got inspired by this, thinking:

Wouldn't it be cool if...I could interview this diverse group of interesting people and document those moments of 'green awakening'?

Was there a catalyst? A defining moment? What caused that inner shift inside? How did they move from a state of complacency to one of action?

How inspiring to read about people making changes in their life!

That is the basis of this online anthology.

Who are the people fighting for the protection of our home, our planet?

I'd like you to drop by this site and meet them!