Youth make their voices heard at the NM Legislature 2014

I’m honored for the past 10 years to assist over 100 youth each year to take charge of their water and climate future by going to the New Mexico legislature to speak to their representatives about what they care about.  This year was different though ~~ I sensed a tangible urgency from students and speakers on the panel to find solutions and an expression of frustration that change needs to happen.

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Student from two schools (Santa Fe High and Earth Care’s Youth Allies) took spontaneous collective action during lunch to march with signs up to Governor Martinez’s office to demand support for increased solar energy development, among other issues.  While they didn’t get to meet with her they delivered letters and made an important point they can make a stronger impression collectively than they could alone.

Over 140 students from 7 schools got involved.  The day started with youth asking challenging questions of water and climate policy experts to inform themselves on current legislation, actions they could take personally and politically, and how they could work together to make a difference at the 2014 NM Legislature.  Next youth met and delivered letters to legislators, testified at a public rally with firefighters to increase solar power, and attended committee hearings.

a 20140129_Chiocchio_577 editRiver Source helped prepare students by giving classroom presentations about water and climate issues, sharing examples of letters to legislators, and providing information on hot legislation prior to the event without telling students what to support or oppose.  This year I cultivated a new partnership with New Energy Economy (NEE), a non-profit organization based in Santa Fe.  NEE shared their presentation materials, helped present at two classes, and took the lead in coordinating the public rally at the Legislature to solarize Santa Fe County firestations.  Thanks very much to Mariel and Bianca at NEE for making this important work happen — update!  $182,000 was secured in capital outlay funds this year.  

At the end of the session there have been several victories and few defeats (for an update go to our Hot Legislation for 2014 page by clicking here).  I realize that when you get knocked down at the legislature you have to get right back up again the next year to get good laws on the books ~ it can take several years to get a good law passed.

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I am reminded the importance of showing up like this roadrunner did at the restaurant table next to mine back in December.  I’m super proud of the students who made their voices heard at the NM Legislature and honored to be part of their work to create a secure water and climate future.  I also know that continuing to show up at the Legislature makes a big difference — if you fall down, get up, and try again!

All photos except for the roadrunner are by Esha Chiocchio


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