On Thursday, May 25, more than 200 Island students from the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School and the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School gathered at Felix Neck to rally around taking climate action and discussing environmental justice issues.
It was the fifth annual Youth Climate Summit held at the conservation area.
The summit held different discussion and activity groups spread around the wildlife sanctuary that demonstrated sustainability measures to protect the environment.
Different groups discussed issues like processing eco grief through mindfulness, protecting coastal waterbirds, introducing eco-bricks to repurpose plastic waste, and promoting social justice.
This year’s event was spearheaded and planned by Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School’s (MVRHS) Protect Your Environment (PYE) Club.
Lyla Solway, a junior at MVRHS and a part of PYE’s organizing team, was excited to talk about farming at the summit. “I am more interested in how we can make farming more sustainable,” she said. Solway differentiates between the different farming practices that are currently in use and the sustainable alternatives to them. Soil erosion, which is caused by tilling of land, is one of the major concerns in farming. Solway says that using alternative practices like terracing (meaning farming on a slope), planting more cover crops, and using organic fertilizers will replenish the soil’s nutrients.
Other students at the summit discussed the idea of eco-bricks. The bricks are made by stuffing plastic water bottles with other, everyday-use plastics, which can then be repurposed for construction projects.
Emily Gazzaniga, a former member of the PYE club that spearheaded the first annual Youth Climate Summit, took part in the eco-bricks discussion. She said that Felix Neck could ultimately reuse plastics found on the beach. “The goal is that with the finished products, Felix Neck will be able to use them for construction projects,” Gazzaniga said.
There was also discussion about social justice in the environmental movement during the event.
The keynote speaker was Marcia Macedo, water program director and associate scientist for Woodwell Climate Research Center.
Also new this year, there were over 500 students participating in climate action and social justice activities and informational sessions at the regional high school on the same day, away from Felix Neck.
“Last year’s event was inspiring, but mainly focused on discussion,” said senior Annabelle Brothers. “This year, that inspiration is taken to action around the MVRHS campus, with students participating in hands-on activities to promote sustainability and social justice at school. As we continue to learn about climate justice and social justice, the places where each movement intersects becomes more apparent, and now is the perfect time to build momentum within the student body to fight such relevant issues to our community.”