TIME’s 2019 Person of the Year and Climate Change

This week’s blog is written by Dion McGill, SCY Communications and Community Outreach Manager, with help from the SCHROA Team! 

If you read or listen to the news, even in passing, you’ve surely heard that Greta Thunberg was named TIME’s 2019 Person of the year. If by chance you are not familiar with Greta, she is a 16 year old Swedish environmental activist on climate change whose campaigning has gained international recognition.  Needless to say, this choice by TIME has created a storm of conversation and criticism, both positive and negative. Here at SCY, we love seeing youth being empowered, and doing big things, both here in Chicago and beyond.

We encourage you to check out the cover story on Greta from TIME.

Now, what does climate change or Greta Thunberg, have to do with violence prevention and positive youth development here in Chicago?

Well, one of SCY’s Focus on Five, the five focus areas of our organization, is sustained investment in strong communities.  For us, this means “adopting community and economic development policies to rectify the fact that the toll of violence falls disproportionately on low-income, minority communities.”  However, as a member of the Lurie Children’s community, we know that violence is not the only negative factor disproportionately affecting low income communities and communities of color.

According to a recent federal report, climate change will also hurt low income communities the most.  According to the Fourth National Climate Assessment:

  • Low-income communities already have higher rates of many health conditions, are more exposed to environmental hazards and take longer to bounce back from natural disasters.
  • These existing inequalities will only be exacerbated due to climate change.
  • The report emphasizes the need for government officials to involve low-income residents when developing solutions to climate change.

So, while we are thinking of ways to continually empower, uplift, and strengthen Chicago communities and Chicago youth, we must also keep in mind that there are additional threats on the horizon to keep in mind, and we must think how we can be good stewards of the resources, particularly natural ones, that we have around us.

Here’s a brief yet informative article on 10 ways to be a better environmental steward in 2019…but let’s go ahead and carry as many of these practices as we can over into 2020.

Finally, I feel I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that while we all love and adore Greta Thunberg, and all that she is doing, she is not in this fight alone.

Recently, CNN penned an article on other young activists who are leading the environmentalist fight, and many of them are youth of color. Be sure to check this article out at your earliest convenience.


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