Water Journal : Current May 2017
www.awa.asn.au 23 Australian Water Association: Why is it important for young people to be part of the conversation about climate change? Xiuhtezcatl Martinez: What is happening now is going to have more of an impact on younger genera- tions than any others; they have a huge stake in this issue, but don’t really have a lot of influence in our political systems or elsewhere. Our voices deserve to be heard because we have a lot to lose, but that also means we have a lot to gain by standing up and fighting for what we believe in. I did run into problems with people not taking me seriously because of my age, which is something that I’m sure other young people experience. But once people heard what I had to say, their perspective changed because I wasn’t just some kid looking for attention – I actually had something concrete that I was speaking out for. Youth hold a lot of power, and when they speak out for things they are passionate about, mobilise and connect with others, there is a lot that they can accomplish together. AWA: You found two things you were passionate about at a young age: music and activism. How can young people turn their passions into a career? Martinez: I was six years old when I first spoke on a stage to people about climate change. I had a really important calling to try and be part of making a difference in the world and being a part of creating change. The direction of our future will be determined by how young people involve themselves in and engage with the world around them. If you find that intersection between something you’re passionate about and something you can channel it through, that’s where your voice gets amplified and gains influence to address important issues. AWA: What is the value of strong networks? Martinez: I always felt that I wouldn’t have been able to go down this path without having support from my family and my people. Having networks of people and conversations wherever you go is crucial. When I reach out to others, I always get some good, constructive criticism about how they see things, which provides perspective and helps me relate to people more. I’m involved with this organisation called Earth Guardians, which is a global youth movement that works with young people to take action against climate change and other important issues. It’s always epic to see the change that is happening around me; to see people walk away from meetings saying, “I’m going to go home and make this change to my lifestyle”, or “I’m going to start a garden crew in my community” is really powerful. AWA: You’re Indigenous American, but one thing you say is everyone is indigenous to somewhere. What does that mean? ONE THING THAT CONNECTS US ALL IS THAT WE ARE FIGHTING FOR A BETTER WORLD FOR OUR CHILDREN AND FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS.
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