It started with an invitation from a group of Rashi middle school students to their NewBridge on the Charles neighbors
Hi. We are the Rashi Middle School Climate Change Committee. We are made up of faculty and middle schoolers that are passionate about the issue of climate change. We try to make Rashi and its community more sustainable and eco friendly. We also try to educate and bring awareness to the Rashi community about climate change and its impact on the everyday lives of students, faculty, and parents.
We’d love to connect with you! Rashi and NewBridge on the Charles have forged a strong relationship over the years and we are interested in connecting with your team and learning about what you think and have to say about this issue. It would be amazing if we could meet together sometime in the near future to discuss how our everyday life is affected by climate change and how we can work together to solve this crucial issue.
NewBridge resident, leader in the NewBridge environmental sustainability group, and Rashi grandparent to Elena ’20,” Terri U. responded, to join a vibrant conversation between the climate change clubs of Rashi and NewBridge. The conversation was rich and spoke to the power of collaborating across generations to make change. While a virtual meeting was a necessity, the two groups are looking forward to partnering in person. Below is an excerpt of the their conversation last Spring.
Eli (7): We started the climate change committee to make Rashi a greener place. We wanted to implement composting. That was before we couldn’t go to school anymore! When we heard that NewBridge had a Climate Change Club, we thought it would be an awesome opportunity to partner with NewBridge and see what work you have been doing.
Zachary (8): Climate change is the most pressing issue right now. It affects everyone no matter where you live.
Ben (7): I’m here because I care about addressing the issue of climate change. As Zack and Eli were saying, it impacts all of us. We all live on this planet so it’s something that we need to change.
Teddy (7): I’m in the Climate Change Club for all the other reasons but I’m here at this meeting because I always like partnering with Newbridge. I’m excited to see what work Newbridge is doing as neighbors and to see if we can get any ideas from the great work that is happening there.
Giselle (7): I’m here because like everyone said, climate change is a big issue and I want it to be something that I can fix.
Terri: We eliminated plastic bags on the campus to get rid of plastic cups and have paper cups. We got rid of plastic straws. We also have a program of trying to educate people on how do you use energy efficiently, how you use water, about vampire energy.
The threat of global warming of climate change is a horrendous battle. Fossil fuels are being expelled into the atmosphere that expels carbon dioxide and methane. The planet is warming at an alarming rate and you’re the ones who are going to have to live through that and fight that so this is perfect that you’re doing what you’re doing. It’s not going to affect me when 2050 comes but it might affect you. I’m not trying to be scary but I’m just saying now is the time to to begin to try to write to Congress.
How would you like to address some of these things in your school and in your homes? If you went home, what would you say to your parents?
Zachary: My dad has a fund with some other people and they invest in clean energy startups. That’s a big reason why I am into this topic. That’s what my dad does for a living . Something that he and I have talked about that would really help is a carbon tax.
Terri: Right on! That is exactly what some of us are fighting for at NewBridge. There is an organization called Climate Change Lobby. You might want to look at that online. That’s exactly what they are doing. They are trying to motivate people to contact their congressional representatives to do something about the issue.
This would be a tax on those industries that emit carbon dioxide and methane and then that money would be used for the talking about to create green resources of energy like wind and sun power. The other idea is to give that money to people, like reduce their taxes, but I prefer the first option, to tax these companies and use the money. There are a lot of issues out there that people are trying to resolve that are complicated, but one of the issues is that no one yet has found a way to store energy.
Eli: Do you think that the carbon tax could be an incentive to companies who are producing carbon to maybe either stop or slow down the production?
Terri: Yes, that is that is the whole idea. Sure, exactly! These are smart people you brought here to talk to me!
Ideas Rashi’s Climate Club Are Thinking About
Eli: Before the whole pandemic started, we had the goal of putting composting in the cafeteria. We would put a sign above the compost bin every day that says something like “In today’s lunch, the orange peels can go in the compost” so that people are educated and will think “Hey I can put my orange peels in the compost. I never knew that.” What we were thinking is after we have enough compost, we’d send it to this company and they would make it into soil and then deliver it back to us. And we’d give it to Newbridge to help with their garden.
Terri: This is really great. There’s a company that actually serves NewBridge and it may be a way to combine your composting materials with NewBridge’s. There are things that could really make a big difference like composting, getting rid of plastic straws and plastic cups and plastic bags, all the soft plastics. You can’t put plastic bags in recycling so what we do at NewBridge is collect the plastic bags that come on your dry cleaning and then we take them to Whole Foods and Whole Foods sends them to a company and they make decking out of the material. I think it’s going to take young people to change the world because the people in my generation, many of them are just not engaged, but it’s your world.
Sharing An Idea
Allie (7): In the middle of February, we started to create a competition for the lower school to have them draw a design for a sticker that we can put above all the paper towel rolls in the school. It was going to be a competition for a sticker to remind people to only take one paper towel.
Joni: Terri, it’s really cool to hear you speak. It is also interesting to hear you talking about the different generations. What made you get so passionate about this?
Terri: I come from an interesting background. In the community where I lived, there was a publicly owned power agency, independent of the city government. I was one of four commissioners. I served 10 years on that board. It was at the time this idea of green energy, green power, was evolving. The commissioners got very engaged. We built the first LEEDS building which uses specifications to make it more energy efficient. We talked about building a solar field, which we eventually did.
It would be nice if we could meet and sit down around a table.
Why The Students Enjoyed the Conversation
Eli: Before I have to leave I just want to say thank you, Terri. It’s nice to hear how NewBridge across the road is kind of doing almost the same things we are doing and it was really cool to hear your history in helping climate change.
Giselle: It was really interesting to hear what we can do with compost later.
Ezra (7): I thought it was really interesting learning from your perspective, which is one I haven’t heard before. Also because you’re a lot older than us, you have a lot of experiences and it was really interesting to be able to learn from your experiences. Thank you.
Teddy: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to come speak with us and see how we can combine forces to accomplish double the amount that we are doing separately.
Zachary: It was really interesting to hear about what you’ve done, your history, the group behind it, and your opinions so thank you.
Ben: Thank you for coming and meeting with us, Terri. I was really interested in what you said about the plastic bags and how NewBridge brings them to Whole Foods.
Allie: Thank you so much for coming. I found it very interesting-what we can do –both now and when we get back to school all together .
Deb (faculty): Thank you so much. I think the kids get a lot out of hearing about other people doing the same work and having the same perspective. I think hearing from another generation gives them hope because I think that sometimes they feel like they are fighting aimlessly.
Terri: It gives me hope to hear the young people.
Patrick (faculty): I would echo everything that has been said. We know that everyone’s going to have to play a role. Ultimately it’s going to be a collaborative process if we want to be successful. Being able to build on the connection we already have with Newbridge in this way is going to be really great for everyone.
Terri: It’s really exciting. How do we move forward and come up with a plan? I’ll send the students some notes and a list of the things that we have accomplished here at Newbridge and things that we’re moving toward doing.
Joni: What I really loved about having you with us is that you helped towards teaching respect and not making assumptions about different ages and what people are doing and what people are interested in. You were extraordinary to join us.
Terri: Rashi students are extraordinary. It is not just their knowledge and what they care about. It’s the way they express themselves.
What Comes Next
Marianna: I would love in the fall for us to come back together and pick a project or an area of concern where there’s already some overlap between both campuses and see if we can share strategies for moving them.
Terri: In the fall, we will have a big community meeting. We are going to have a presentation from the NewBridge committee and would love to have Rashi students present as well. I’m really hopeful.