Annika Johnson Tackles Climate Justice

Credit: Annika Johnson

Credit: Annika Johnson

One person might not be able to create a big change in society, but Annika Johnson ’19 is here to prove the statement wrong by spreading her awareness about climate justice in a workshop at the Truth School.

The workshop happened Thursday, November 29, from 5-6:00 p.m. at the Montessori School, at 42 Bates St. in Northampton.

Annika, from Northampton, is a 4-year senior. She did a workshop about the same topic at “Why not speak day” last year. This year, she is hoping to expand not only the students’ awareness but also the community of Northampton.

“Most of us are familiar with the environmental effects of climate change, but have you thought about what a changing climate will do to people?” she asked.

According to the Grassroots International, a funding of global movements for social change, “climate justice operates at the intersection of racial and social rights, environmental and economic justice. It focuses on the roots causes of climate change, and calls for a transformation to a sustainable, community-led economy.”

There are many foundations that focus on this issue such as: The Mary Robinson Foundation, the Climate Justice Resilience Fund.

Annika’s workshop focused on how climate change affects people of color, women, people living in poverty, and immigrants. She believed that in order to reduce the effect that climate change is creating, people need to know about the actual effect that it is causing to other people in the world. And once people know more and more about it, the change will eventually start because it all depends on the people.

According to Annika, Van Jones, a social justice champion and news commentator, put it best when he said, “In order to trash the planet, you have to trash people.”

More specifically, she hopes to bring more awareness to people to understand that the effect of hurting the environment is also hurting the people living in it. In order to explain this in details to the participants of the workshop, she created a game called “Star Activity” in which participants learned more about the effects of climate change on different people in society by sharing about their own experiences with other people at the workshop.

Senior Ellie Wolfe at Williston Northampton School who attended the workshop, expressed how grateful she was for being at the workshop because she was able to learn a lot, especially through the “Star Activity.”

“I found the Star Activity every interesting and I ended up learning a lot about how different groups of people are affected by things like natural disaster,” she said. “And it’s also very disheartening to learn about how certain people of color or people of a different economic statue got treated.”

[Editor’s note: Ellie is the Editor-in-Chief of this paper.]

She continued praising Annika:

“Overall I found Annika’s workshop very enjoyable and I learned a lot,” said Ellie. “It’s so  cool that students in Williston are going outside of Williston to teach people in the community about different things.”

The Willistonian had a chance to talk to Annika about her workshop in a cold Monday afternoon when all the practices were coming to an end. Sitting down with the Willistonian, Annika was very open sharing her experience.

“This issue has always interested me since I was little and the different impact on environment is an important issue so I think that more people should know about this topic.” said Annika.

Through her workshop, Annika hopes to bring more awareness about this world issue to people.

“I’m not hoping for people at the workshop to go out and make world changing decisions, but I think the least I can do is to plant the seeds of empathy and understanding in their minds.” she said.

Annika also hoped that the Williston community can inform more to the students about this topic by inviting more speakers who care about this issue to come to campus, or by discussing it in class.