Students for Sustainability to spend spring break lobbying for climate change solutions

Mar 10, 2014 by

Students for Sustainability to spend spring break lobbying for climate change solutions

Students at Port Townsend High School intent on devoting their spring break to lobbying officials in “the other Washington” to take action on climate change solutions first had to answer a troubling question:

How to get there?

It’s approximately 3,000 miles from the Olympic Peninsula to Washington, D.C. Anyway you slice it, the trip will produce carbon emissions. The ethical answer was to travel by public transportation. That means bus and ferry to Seattle’s Amtrak station, and from there a round trip to D.C. by train.

And so, 15 students from our “little town that could” depart March 27 for a 10-day adventure that is sure to shape their own lives, if not public policy.

But I am hopeful—as are they—that by adding their young voices to the choir, the swelling crowds become too noisy for the President and Congress to ignore.

As the students say: “Climate change is the issue of our generation. We are traveling 3,000 miles by public transportation to urge our leaders to act NOW because our future matters.”

The cost per student is $1,500, and they’re still fundraising. I’ve donated; I hope you’ll consider it, too.


Going Sustainable Together

This is a story I’ve been following for some time, cheering on the Students for Sustainability (SFS) club members I’ve met at Local 20/20 functions, and in particular two students who attend our UU fellowship. (Both work in the church’s childcare program and are adored by my 5-year-old son. Both are planning to make the trip.)

“Currently the largest and fastest-growing nonathletic club at Port Townsend High School, about 30 members address a range of topics, from how to improve their school’s recycling program and reducing paper waste in day-to-day operations and coordinating a ride-share program among student commuters,” reports our local newspaper, The Leader (link to article).

I haven’t blogged about SFS because…well, my blog has been languishing. Although I wish I had the personal writing time to interview these young people, I can at least share links to their story with you. It’s a “going sustainable together” no-brainer!


Local media reports

The Port Townsend-Jefferson County Leader has recently published two excellent articles about SFS, both by reporter Megan Claflin.

The first, in Dec. ’13, describes how the students will stop in 55 communities along the train route and speak at other high schools to gain support and build momentum for their message.

“SFS plans to create a petition that they will send to students in each of the communities they visit to sign. Students will also be asked to list one or two sustainability issues they are concerned about, and then add what actions they want to see elected officials implement. The petitions will be collected at each train stop along their journey and delivered to representatives in the Capitol.”

Read the 12/18/13 Leader article.


A second article in early Feb. ’14 reports on the Environmental Protection Agency honoring SFS with the President’s Environmental Youth Award for taking action to mitigate climate change at school and in their community. (See featured group photo.)

Mindful of the fossil fuels needed to transport SFS from one side of the country to the other, students plan to plant more than 500 native tree species with the Jefferson Land Trust at Irondale Springs, a 1.2-acre area adjacent to Irondale Beach County Park on Saturday, Feb. 15.

“The club got a head start on Feb. 1, when members participated as crew leaders and planters at the Northwest Watershed Institute’s Plant-a-Thon.”

Read the 2/5/14 Leader article.


How to help

In a little more than two weeks, the SFS train will be leaving the station.

SFS President Ewan Shortess suggests these “ways you can put more wind under our wings to get us there:”

• Attend the Moveable Feast Film Series screening of A Place at the Table on March 17 at Port Townsend High School that will directly benefit our local fundraising campaign. (Admission by donation; funds go to SFS.)

• Check out our Indiegogo crowdfunding site.  There is lots of information about our group and our achievements. The more ‘hits’ the site gets, the more our campaign will come closer to the first pages you see and funders will find us. (As of publication, nearly $4,500 had been raised of the club’s $25,000 goal. Unlike Kickstarter, SFS will receive all donations regardless of whether the goal is met.)

• You can like our Facebook page and share it with others!

I look forward to traveling vicariously with SFS as they cross this great continent, inspiring other students, their teachers, local media, and–yes!–politicians along the way.

The world needs more teens like them. Go, SFS!



Group photo courtesy of Students for Sustainability.


  1. Brian Goldstein

    I had the privilege of hosting a fund raising dinner for the SFS team. At the event, Two of the students, Lily and Micah, presented their reasons for taking this life-changing trip, and the sense of urgency they feel to take action in curbing our GHG emissions. I was so impressed with their passion and maturity; I don’t know about you, but when I was a senior in HS I wasn’t nearly as focused.

    I urge you to support the SFS students on this epic journey. Support them both financially and spiritually on their upcoming trip!

  2. Get the full report from the students on Thursday, May 29, 7-8:30 p.m. at the Port Townsend High School Auditorium.

    “We will share our story, from the beginning of SFS two years ago … to our life-changing journey of 6,000 miles to the ‘other’ Washington to lobby for climate action!” says the event promo.

    Dessert Potluck immediately following the presentation. Please bring a dessert to share and help us be sustainable by bringing your own cups, plates and utensils Coffee & tea provided.

    I’ll be there!