Youth Vs. Apocalypse is a diverse network of young climate justice activists working together to lift the voices of youth, in particular youth of color, and fight for a livable climate and an equitable, sustainable, and just world.
Youth leaders are supported with networks, training, logistical assistance, and intersectional analysis in order to allow them to fight powerfully for themselves, their communities, and the planet.
- Youth have the ability and right to be leaders in the fight for climate justice. The role of adults in this program is to support youth in their leadership.
- Science is real, and is to be taken seriously. The October 2018 UN report states that we have until 2030 to make radical changes in order to prevent uncontrollable climate damage.
- Youth Vs. Apocalypse was named very intentionally. The current climate crisis we are facing mirrors that of an apocalypse.
- Fighting for climate justice means fighting for racial and economic justice because our current climate crisis is rooted in racism, white supremacy, and economic exploitation.
- We focus on uplifting voices of color and voices of people from frontline communities because we recognize the systemic silencing of those voices and want to empower those communities to take action on climate justice issues. We recognize that the fight for climate justice cannot be won without these voices.
- We believe every person can contribute to the fight for climate justice. Youth Vs. Apocalypse is a safe space for youth who are not usually encouraged to use their voices. Youth Vs. Apocalypse strives to make space for youth to inspire and connect with each other.
- We recognize that our climate crisis is a symptom of the exploitative and extractive way our society treats people and the earth, and we look to indigenous, traditional, and resilient communities for models on how to live sustainably and with integrity.
- By coming together as young people, we can change the fabric of society. We want our society’s values to be centered on compassion and fairness— both of which are vital to fighting climate change.
- Youth Vs. Apocalypse strongly supports and fights for the Green New Deal, including the resolution introduced by Rep. AOC and Sen. Ed Markey. We need Green resolutions that take urgent climate action with an intersectional approach.
Youth Vs. Apocalypse started as a group of passionate young people fighting against the placement of a coal terminal in West Oakland. We believe that local battles for environmental justice impact our global fight for climate justice
Youth Vs. Apocalypse is a diverse group of young climate justice activists working together to lift the voices of youth, in particular youth of color and working class youth, to fight for a livable climate and an equitable, sustainable, and just world.
YVA started as a group of Oakland youth, supported by adults in their community, using direct action and lobbying to fight a proposed coal terminal in their city, then expanded its focus to other climate justice issues. After a video with youth from YVA pushing Senator Feinstein to support the Green New Deal went viral, YVA students organized press conferences, gave interviews, wrote Op Eds, and developed a website, Weeks after the viral encounter, in March 2019, YVA led a Climate Strike of 2000 youth and allies. Feinstien pulled her weaker version of the Deal.
By September,YVA organized a crowd of 30,000, after working as a group to develop an intersectional set of targets and demands, organizing transportation for thousands of students from around the Bay Area, and connecting with dozens of labor and community groups, many of whom took climate action for the first time. YVA youth have supported climate actions across the state, taken leadership on local and statewide campaigns, and continued their presence in national media. Days after YVA leaders helped organize a march in LA pushing Governor Newsom, he issued new protections from fossil fuel extraction. After a series of actions, including an occupation, at BlackRock, their CEO drastically improved his companies climate priorities. YVA is a local group of young people who are impacting national conversations on climate.
YVA is expanding and redefining who leads in the climate movement because we have a base-building community-organizing model that works: we go into schools and communities and meet people where they are at. We present in real terms the science and history of our ecological crisis. We respect young people and support them to lead, whether they are 11 or 17 years old, whether they get in trouble in class or not, whether they have a stable home or not, whether they previously considered themselves “leaders” or “environmentalists” or not.
YVA is led by a “lead circle” of 12 dedicated activists, ages 12-18, who collaborative set agendas, demands and campaigns, with the support of 3 staff members, and an advisory board of adult supporters. Every year, hundreds of middle and high school students encounter YVA through school based presentations, and dozens become more involved through school-based clubs in underserved middle and high schools, where youth are supported to take collective and direct action for climate justice, while building skills and community. This year over 40 students have joined our annual fellowship, where they are supported to develop activist skills, practice leadership, and build a regional community. YVA is actively involved in several local, statewide, and national campaigns and is pulling together a coalition of many local groups to plan for a mass climate action in April, 2020.
This model of tiered engagement, intersectional analysis, and active adult support for youth leadership has the potential to be replicated in other communities, and to continue growing the breadth and depth of the climate movement.
YVA Adult Advisory Board:
Pennie Opal Plant – Idle No More SF Bay
Kristy Drutman – Brown Girl Green
Liz Perlman- AFSME Local 3299
Simone Delluchi – Oakland SOL Middle School
Mara Tobis – YVA parent, Oakland Public Defender’s Office
Sara Shor – Climate Justice Campaigns Director
Matt Leonard – 350.org
Whitney Dwyer- Metwest High school
Rena Meyers – Earth Guardians
Dalia Hashad – Campaigns Advisor
Colin Miller – Oakland Climate Action Coalition
DeAnthony Jones – San Francisco Neighborhood Services Liason
Ellen Choy – Movement Generation
Cory Jong – Urban Promise Academy
Ben Goloff – Center for Biological DIversity, Last Chance Alliance
Heath Madom – Race, Policy and Law Academy, Oakland Tech, OEA
Neeka Salmasi – Attitudinal Healing Connection
Aya de Leon – Author, Activist
Q: How can I join YVA?
A: YVA does not have a membership structure. People are involved in different ways. Here are the ways to work with the group:
- take action on a campaign
- join a planning call
- come to actions
- join a school-based club
- join the fellowship
- represent our points of unity
People can join the lead circle once they have been actively leading with YVA, and are agreed on by consensus of the prior members.
Q: Who makes decisions for YVA?
A: The lead circle makes decisions about targets, demands, and points of unity.
Q: Who speaks on behalf of YVA?
A: The lead circle designates spokespeople for actions. Anyone who represents the points of unity, acts based on an intersectional analysis of climate justice, and works with YVA in one of the above ways can identify as part of YVA when they speak.
Q: What are YVA’s community agreements?
-Respect & Listen to everyone’s voice
-Take Space/ Make space
-Take care of yourself/ communicate boundaries
-Challenge oppressive social dynamics through kindness
-Call “in” and repair don’t retreat
-Be open to constructive criticism
-Respect people’s cultures
-Respect the space
-Take healthy risks