Cherish summer in Santa Fe with good books, lush gardens, buzzing bees, a trip to the zoo, a science project or two, and the restorative balm of children's creativity.
The silky soft gypsum of White Sands are the perfect place to make some sand angels.
Photo by Tira Howard.
By Kathryn York
As youth help lead the global call for climate action, Santa Fe plans a family-friendly celebration.
I never thought I’d rejoice in snow.
Growing up in New England, where intense winter winds pummel snow throughout towns to create great towers of white and layer streets in dangerous coats of ice, I soon learned to be wary when the skies turned that distinctive shade of gray.
Here in Santa Fe, however, I breathe a sigh of relief with each snowfall and lasting precipitation. The importance of water is ingrained into our local psyche. It’s considered foolish to complain about precipitation when it’s so integral to our survival and that of the thirsting desert ecosystem.
We always need it. Those winters when we see a bare Santa Fe Baldy, deprived of snowpack, we worry about the aquifers. Even our fourth-graders participate in the city’s annual Children’s Water Fiesta, exploring both the properties and importance of water in our arid climate. Calling Santa Fe home means being acutely aware of the weather and changes to the climate.
Both locally and globally, climate change has taken center stage in recent years. From extreme weather events to divesting from fossil fuels — topics centered on climate change are everywhere. Sometimes it can feel daunting and overwhelming. If we as adults feel the intense gravity of climate change, how are our kids grasping these serious topics?
Though we’d love to protect our children from life’s heavier realities, the truth is our youth are constantly being exposed to issues of climate change. In a time of uncertainty and hardship, it can be hard to see positive efforts. When we look a little deeper, however, we can find sparks of inspiration.
Around the globe, young people are imploring the world, and those “adults in the room,” to take action. Desperate pleas from teen activist Greta Thunberg pushed climate change to the forefront of a global conversation with her powerful address to the United Nations and her #FridaysforFuture movement, but she wasn’t the only one making waves in the environmental movement. Consider young activists such as Jamie Margolin, the 16-year-old founder of the Zero Hour movement working to spread the word on climate change in communities worldwide; and Autumn Peltier, an internationally recognized 13-year-old advocate for clean water. The youth-led Sunrise Movement also brought a new sense of urgency to the topic with confrontations between 8-year-old children and well-respected senators from even the most progressive states.
Most inspiring for us here in Santa Fe are the efforts of our local youth. Youth United for Climate Crisis Action (YUCCA) organized a massive march and Climate Strike in September 2019 and continue to organize around issues of climate change. These young people and their adult allies have taken the call for climate action to our community. Maybe this call for change is not so much about what we can teach our children, but rather, what they can teach us.
In Santa Fe, we are urging our community to do just that: listen to our children and heed the call to take action for our future. Spring brings a glorious reawakening in nature; it also brings a heightened awareness of all that is changing in our world. There’s no better time to explore how we can grow and adapt in this changing climate.
April 2020 will mark the 50th anniversary of Earth Day nationally. This year’s theme is Climate Action. What better way to engage the whole community than a family-friendly celebration in the heart of our city? The Santa Fe Railyard Park invites one and all to join a free Earth Day Celebration from noon to 4 p.m. April 26, with a variety of interactive learning stations, musical groups and healthy food offerings. In an effort to eliminate the impact of waste and litter at largescale events, the celebration will be “zero waste.” Vendors will offer low-waste, compostable and recyclable packaging options, and trash stations will be placed throughout the park. Visitors can learn how to properly sort their waste between recycle, trash and compost, too.
In addition to the Earth Day Celebration, a range of organizations and community partners will celebrate an entire Earth Month. Learn from local nonprofits, businesses and organizations to see what they are doing to protect our environment and promote healthy interactions with our Earth. Then choose your own climate action to commit to in 2020. Santa Fe’s commitment to climate action will be visually manifested on a pledge board, where everyone’s individual actions will be collected together.
For the past year, the Railyard Park Conservancy has hosted a variety of events specially designed to get kids involved and engaged with their local community and ecosystem. For example, Sand Play, the Conservancy’s popular nature-based children’s program, offers toddlers and elementary school children a place to explore, discover and think creatively through sand, water, toys and kitchen utensils. Sand Play will be an important feature at this year’s Earth Day Celebration, as a fun and easy way for kids to connect with nature. There will also be opportunities for participants to learn how they can support the Railyard Park’s Graze Days program, a three-year pilot project focused on improving the park’s ability to sequester carbon using goats and sheep. This is a critical function of our high-desert grasslands environment.
Climate action isn’t restricted to raising a sign at a rally. It’s engaging with one’s community. It’s loving our Earth, being open to learning about one’s surroundings, and sharing stories with others. It’s asking questions and speaking up. We all must struggle with the challenges of our imperfect lives, but starting somewhere is a whole lot better than not starting at all. Yes, climate change can be daunting, but when we come together most anything can be surmountable. The 2020 Railyard Park Earth Day Celebration is designed to educate and inspire the youth as well as the adults in our community. Let your voice be heard and share your pledge to make a difference this year.
For the most up-to-date information, visit railyardpark.org. To volunteer, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Three small ways you can make a big difference
Climate change is here, in our world, in our community, even in our backyard. For the average citizen, it can be quite daunting. Maybe you are a parent concerned for your child’s future, a teen eagerly awaiting your chance to vote, or a young person who’s just learned about climate change in the classroom. Together, we can make a difference. Here are three ways kids, adults and people of all ages can make a difference in their day-to-day life: