What inspires all of us to come together, choosing to release fear and to create climate balance for all to experience through transforming our lives?

Last summer I went to Ami Vitale’s speech in Aspen. Ami is a well-known National Geographic photographer and I got to meet her in person. Her main message was that everyone has a voice and a story to tell. I am here to tell you my story.

I was born curious and would ask my parents tons and tons of questions. They were always good at answering my questions. One question I have been asking and thinking about lately is:

“ Why did I have to be born into a world where most people don’t seem to take very good care of the earth.”

Some Nights I would cry myself asleep scared and worried about the effects of climate change. Sometimes I would say to my mom “I am scared about the effects of climate change and that it may end up taking my life.” She would always answer the same “The effects of climate change may end up taking your life but instead of being scared why don’t you act.”  She never told me not to be scared. Just to act. I felt pretty lonely feeling this way because I did not think many of my classmates and friends felt the same and had the urge to do something about climate change.

Two winters ago right after President Trump got elected winter was delayed in Aspen. Elk were still up high and the bears didn’t hibernate yet. So many things confused and scared me. That became my motivation. I decided that I was going to help the environment, people and animals. My first idea was to write a letter to the President but I never finished it. It felt like I was starting of too big, needed support and the feeling of community. Convincing President Trump that climate change is real just felt like climbing too high of a mountain.

My mom is a friend of Lara Whitely and that is how I got to know about CORE and how they are trying to keep this valley as environmentally friendly as possible. I was impressed on how doing simple things could have a huge impact on the environment. Turning off the light, taking short showers, all in all just using less energy felt easier to deal with than the White House. If I go back to Ami Vitale I decided to use my voice in the Aspen Community and to help share the “CORE values.”

Then one day in school we started our Service Learning project. The project was to raise money for an organization helping people, animals or the environment. As soon as we were introduced to the project I thought of CORE. I presented my idea to my group.

They were with me right away and all of a sudden I didn’t feel so lonely anymore. I had support and commitment from my classmates. We started to find ways to raise money. We made and sold bracelets from paracord rope. The idea was to sell a functional survival bracelet that can be used as an everyday bracelet but also 8 feet of survival rope that could be used in the nature if needed. For example you can use the inside core as flammable ingredient to start a fire, you can use it for fishing, building a shelter and trap your dinner. Paracord has been used in parachutes since World War II and now used in these bracelets. We made and sold a lot of bracelets but some girls from the group had the idea of selling snacks outside school. Our group ended up making more money than any other group on selling snacks and bracelets. We raised over $1.000 that we were happy and proud to donate to CORE.

Being around CORE and Lara Whitley especially have set me in contact with a group called Earth Guardians. The Youth Directors name is Xiuhtezcatl Martinez. He spoke at the UN at the age of 15. He’s an activist and environmentalist and he visited Aspen recently. I got to meet him personally and he told me the same thing my mom always told me. He also said exactly the same as Ami Vitale; that I truly have a voice and that I should use it. He told me that there is thousands of other kids including himself that feel the same way as I do. His words gave me an even bigger motivation. It also felt good to hear it from someone other that my mom

In collaboration with Xiuhtezcatl and The Earth Guardians I share my story in the ‘We The Future Campaign’ that’s shared in 20.000 classrooms all over the US.

This year I celebrated Earth Day at ACES. I met some of my classmates and figured out that they too were interested in working for the environment. Later we met and discussed how to organize ourselves and what events we would do to help heal the earth. At our first meeting we named ourselves the Aspen Junior Environmentalists.

So far we’ve facilitated a Climate Strike were 400 school kids walked from our school and asked the City of Aspen to declare ‘Climate Emergency’ which the later did. We’ve spoken in front of the Pitkin County, County Commissionaires and inspired them to also declare Climate Emergency which they also did. We’ve with success supported and worked politically for the biggest solar power project ever seen in Aspen. And lastely now working with the City of Aspen to reduce traffic to our schools.

I don’t feel lonely anymore. I’ve slayed my dragon and I’m not crying myself anymore. I’m fighting for Mother Earth.

Inspiring everyone to step forward out of Fear and in to creating the Mother Earth we dream of,

Eske Roennau