Fighting for Our Future ISH: On Earth Day, Youth Activists Speak Out

Fighting for Our Future ISH: On Earth Day, Youth Activists Speak Out (Artwork created by Brigido Bautista)

It’s Earth Day, and the hosts of Adult ISH, Merk Nguyen and Nyge Turner, are ready to celebrate both Mother Nature and her youngest protectors! First, they’re chatting with 13-year-old clean water activist Mari Copeny, a.k.a. Little Miss Flint, who in 2016 made national waves by calling for clean water in her Michigan hometown. Then, Merk & Nyge sit down for a candid convo with the co-host of "Inherited" (and Adult ISH producer!) Georgia Wright, who plays some inspirational clips of youth activists battling the climate crisis. Adult ISH is produced by YR Media and brought to you by PRX’s Radiotopia. Be sure to follow all our socials @yrAdultISH!

Episode Transcript

(audio clip plays)

(beach waves crashing)

Merk: You hear this everybody? That’s the good old sound of water, brought to you by Mother Nature. Time to jump in!

(water splash)

Merk: Yeah! Whoo! Let’s get this show on the road!

(audio clip ends)

[Music Break]

Nyge: You really hyped to be at the water hole, huh?

Merk: Water gives me a sense of rebirth. It's just — I come alive. I feel like a new person when I just splash into the H2O, you know what I mean?

Nyge: Yeah, nah but mhm.

Merk: Well it's a good day to be celebrating Earth because it is Earth Day here on “Adult ISH” and in this world. Welcome to the show that's produced by YR Media where we just get to enjoy the elements of life. I’m Merk Nguyen.

Nyge: And I’m Nyge Turner. What's the significance of Earth Day for you, Merk?

Merk: Dude, it's a day where we get to celebrate this wonderful life that we have in this place that we're in. And real talk for a second. You know, if you're like me, you get in your head every now and then. Yes. Yes.

Nyge: Sí.

Merk: But there is this video on YouTube that's narrated by astronomer Carl Sagan called “Pale Blue Dot,” and he's reading from his book. And basically it zooms out of the Earth and shows you how small it is in the grand scheme of the universe, hence pale blue dot.

Nyge: Yeah.

Merk: And then in times like that, I'm reminded, you know what? This is such a small little place, a little speck in the little galaxy, and it's fine because this is our home and it's great and it makes you feel good that I'm here. 

Nyge: Yeah, for me, like it wasn't a big deal at all at first, like in school. When I was in public school and stuff, like it never came up. I didn't even know what Earth Day was. I might have like heard about it one time or read about it in a textbook or on a podcast. Just kidding, no podcasts back then. But yeah, like when I went to private school, it was this whole big like thing where a mascot would come out and it was like a water … 

Merk: Watering can.

Nyge: Yeah, it was like water can with eyes and legs and gloves like Mickey Mouse. And like I never really even knew it was like a thing like that. And then I got this pencil that was made out of recycled money.

Merk: Oh cool. 

Nyge: That's when Earth Day became an actual thing in my mind. I was like, you know, "Earth Day, like Earth Day is lit."

Merk: It’s money.

Nyge: And yeah, nah. Every time after that, that's when Earth Day was like, "Yo, this is actually like a big thing." And when I got older, I started realizing the actual importance behind all of it. 

Merk: Yeah, I think when I started to take my "Oh, this means something and actually took action" was when I went home to my parents' house, and I noticed that they stopped recycling after I left for college. And I was like, "Hey, like, what's going on here? Why'd you stop recycling?" And they're like, "Oh, it costs money." But I wanted them to see how much trash would accumulate by them not recycling. And so I was like, "Okay, you know what? My brother who lives down the street in our cul de sac, he recycles. So I'm going to put all of our recyclables outside of the kitchen, so that way we can see how much accumulates over time." And in doing that, like they actually would put their trash there and be like, "Oh, it's time for her to recycle again." But to see how much I'd have to haul over there, I hope it's put into perspective like how much they could be doing to reduce, reuse and recycle. I like to remind them, "Hey, you know what, your grandkids, they don't want to be running around in trash, so it's better if we just sort of trash and sort the recycles and be on our merry way."

Nyge: Big facts, because, I mean, it's not that hard when you actually get into, like, a routine of actually doing it. But I mean, yeah, like, you got to actually — you gotta fight for the dubs…

Merk: The dubs.

Nyge: …in this Earth Day.

Merk: And that’s why today’s episode is Fighting For Our Future ISH, where we’re gonna talk to some folx who are taking even bigger steps to actively fight for the future of our environment.

Nyge: So first we’re going to talk to activist Mari Copeny about the ongoing water crisis in Flint, and the power of speaking up, in our Little Miss Flinterview.

Merk: And after that, we’ll hear from Georgia Wright, who’s not only our producer but ALSO the co-host of “Inherited,” a podcast about the youth climate movement! Its motto? Our generation didn’t choose the world we were given, but we DO get to choose what we do with it. 

Nyge: True and Merk really wants me to say this so here it goes: “water we waiting for.” Alright y’all, let's get this show on the road.

[Music Break]

Nyge: With us now is a youth activist who’s been fighting for clean water in Flint, Michigan since she was 8. That’s when she wrote a letter to President Obama to come see the city’s water crisis for himself, leading him to approve $100 million dollars in relief funds. And this viral moment was just the beginning.

Merk: Yup, ‘cause since then she’s partnered with the company Hydroviv to create her own water filter and donated it to those with toxic water across the country. She served as an adviser for a United Nations session last month and is an advocate against environmental racism. 

Nyge: So everybody, it’s time to officially say what’s up to 13-year-old Mari Copeny a.k.a. Little Miss Flint – but she’s definitely not gonna be little forever. Welcome to “Adult ISH,” Mari!

Mari: Hi!

Nyge: Can you tell us about your journey into activism?

Mari: So let's take the giant rewind here.

Nyge: (laughs)

Mari: So I lowkey been kind of doing activism since I was four. The stuff I was doing I didn't know that it was considered activism. And what I would do was that I would always go with my grandma down to like the food banks and stuff like that and pass out food and other needs for like homeless people and people who couldn't afford all that stuff. Let's say when I hit eight, the water crisis had started and I wanted to do something to help, so I went to marches and protests and I just had to let my voice be heard. The hashtag that I  hijacked was the Hamilton hashtag.

Merk: Oh sweet. 

Mari: Yeah, well, you know, like everybody with the Hamilton, you know with that hashtag or something like that. And I was like, “Well, you don't know about Flint, so let's just like post inside of there.” So I said, "This is Flint, Michigan. It has a water crisis. Did you know facts and stuff about the water crisis in Flint itself." All of a sudden, boom, traction traction. And then, you know, I wrote a letter to President Obama.

Merk: No big deal.

Mari: No big deal. 

Nyge: Just a little something, a little regular letter.

Mari: And then he like came to Flint and like, met me. He kind of had a glass of the Flint water and drunk it. Not very swag of him to do. It is what it is like … honestly.

Merk: You know, water really does give us life because I mean, more than half of our planet's covered in it. It makes up at most sixty percent of our bodies. But even still, Flint and America's water crisis isn't talked about all the time. Why do you think that is?

Mari: It's basically it's not trending, so that's why more people, like just don't know about it or don't know more about it, because it's not something that's trending all over social media on the news or anything. It has been seven years since the flood water crisis had started, so seven years without clean water and half my life. Yeah, it's not a good thing. But they are in fact, slowly fixing the pipes, though except they had to stop and postpone it due to Covid and stuff like that. Like Covid just leave, like Ms. Rona leave. 

Nyge: Man.  

Merk: Please go away, please.

Nyge: For real, please. While I was doing some research on you, I found a quote that really stuck out to me, really touched my heart. You said, "If they don't give you a seat at the table, stand on it with a megaphone." Not super hard research, it's on the first post on your Instagram, but at 13, you came to a conclusion that honestly, I'm still trying to wrap my head around to this day and I'm what? Twenty four about to be twenty five. And so where does — where do you think that your courage comes from? 

Mari: Just people in general. I didn't really think that I was going to like be kind of like this fearless and like not like, just do all this and stuff like that. But it like, I just kind of have to like keep on going because, like, I just want to do what I have to do. That's just like where most of my courage comes from is just like the people and especially the kids. I like seeing the kids smile when I do huge events, stuff like that. Honestly, it makes me so happy. And that's just what raises up my courage. 

Merk: What's one of the most memorable moments you've had with one of those kids?

Mari: That moment had to be was when I had brought Elon Musk to my school for show and tell. That made me so happy because they were like, "Is that is that really Elon Musk?" And the other memorable has to be when Elon had actually donated $50,000 for 600 bikes for my birthday in two days. And then I gave away those bikes. We had donated to all the kids that basically like needed bikes, just something like that for the summertime because, you know, and seeing the kids just smile and light up and be so happy about it, it was nice seeing them smile and actually truly be happy.

Merk: That's something just so rewarding. Yeah. And that must mean a lot for Flint because you said it yourself. No clean running water for seven years and your community is predominantly Black, which goes to show how that was a form of environmental racism. How does it feel knowing this was and still is happening in your hometown?

Mari: Honestly, I'm angered, angered, and I'm saddened, but mainly angered because, like, we deserve clean water, we deserve to take bubble baths again. We deserve to cook with the water. We deserve to go back to what we were dealing with before. It was bad. We honestly just deserve it. But can we have that? No, no, we can't. We can't.

Merk: What do you miss the most about clean water?

Mari: The thing that I miss the most about clean water has to be me taking a bubble bath. And when I had to stop bubble baths because of the water, I was very sad because I would get really bad rashes and stuff like that. And I was like, "Oh, no more bubble baths?"

Nyge: You know, some people, you know, like they rely on taking a bath or anything that's like forms of self care and keeping their mental health just intact. And like the fact that they've had to endure just a part of that just being stripped from your life, among so many other things, too, besides that, that is wild to even think about. On a more positive angle, though, what are some wins that you've been proud of? Like what are some areas where you were like, “We did this?” 

Mari: You know how I had that one quote that you quoted today? It was like, "When they don't get you to the table." So I don't know if you heard about this or not, but your girl just got a seat at the table. I'm a United States delegate to the United Nations.

Nyge: Sheesh, I kind of need a little help. What does that totally mean? 

Mari: On the delegation, I was able to give my own opinions and have worldwide leaders listen to them.

Nyge: Yeah. Now, that's huge. Worldwide leaders ain't heard nothing I said.

Merk: (laughs)

Nyge: So please, rep for all of us out there. 

Merk: So what's one big call to action that you want everyone to know so that they can do their part in fighting for clean water, even if they don't have a seat at the UN table? You know.

Mari: First thing I have to say is that, like, America has a water crisis and it's not talked about enough. People will think that, you know, "Oh, America, the water crisis? I thought it was like Flint with a water crisis." No, it's not just Flint. There's also Newark, New Jersey. They have way worse lead water than Flint. They have way worse water, kind of wish when people would like pay attention to like the topic they would actually like speak up more about it instead of just leaving it, you know, in the shadows. If people would speak up about this, know the facts and stuff like that. And there's some people that will bring their voice to be heard about it. And there's other people that just won't. I just need people to bring their voice about it and do something about it and donate and do all that. Even if they think they're not helping, they are helping. They're helping spread the word and helping do all that. I just need more people to do that.

Merk: Need to come together everybody.

Nyge: So you're out here advocating for clean water and environmental justice. Are there any other future plans for you? 

Mari: I have a lot of future plans.

Merk: Let’s hear them.

Mari: My big, big, big, big, big future plans when I get older is that I want to be like a successful animator and a voice actor.

Merk: Oh, my gosh, man, you are in the same boat. That’s why I moved down to L.A. 

Mari: And then, then, then, and then after those, I want to be president in 2024. 

Nyge: What does America under Copeny 2044 look like?

Mari: Copeny will look like clean water. No more police shooting innocent Black people or any person of color. No more having to pay for birth control and tampons and period products and stuff like that. No more kids in like cages. No more doing that, no more. It would be most definitely a very, very, very safe world. It would be way much better, honest.

Merk: With political ads that are full of animations. And your voiceover.

Mari: Yes.

Merk: Dang, we’re gonna be in our late forties then! So we’ll be on the lookout and hopefully even more people will have more access to clean water by then. 

Nyge: Yeah, Mari, thanks so much for being here.

Mari: You’re welcome!

Merk: Y’all can follow our future prez on IG and Twitter @LittleMissFlint. There you can donate to her water filter fund & see more of the work she’s doing. More info is also on her site:

[Music Break]

Nyge: When we come back, we’re gonna hear some voices from the youth climate movement!

[Episode Break]

Nyge: Welcome back! With us now is a familiar name ... Georgia Wright. Not only does she produce “Adult ISH,” she’s a writer, organizer, and the producer slash creator of “Inherited,” a podcast about the youth climate movement that she hosts with her co-creator, Julianna Bradley. 

Merk: Yeah and in addition to and her just rocking this intelligent wit and occasionally breaking out into just some accents during our meetings, Georgia’s been reporting stories on the youth climate movement, and has been for a couple years now. She has even been a member of the Sunrise Movement herself! So today, she’s gonna talk about the making of “Inherited” and play some clips of the young folks who are fighting against the climate crisis and for a better future. Hey Georgia! 

Georgia: Hello, my friends. We're going to all pretend that I haven't been seeing you all day. 

Nyge: So what moved you to start “Inherited?” I don't think I've actually even asked you that question in real life, but here we go.

Georgia: Really, it started in college. I was an intern for this documentary called “The YEARS Project,” and basically the documentary was about climate change and I was a fact checker. So I was fact checking all these statistics about the climate crisis day in and day out. I had been sort of a passive environmentalist beforehand, but I definitely had no understanding of, like the severity of the crisis. And so I came out of that just like totally mind boggled, feeling all of a sudden all of this like terror and anxiety. And so it really wasn't until a few years in that I was like, "Oh, there's a space in the audio podcasting world, which is super expansive. There is a space for climate podcasts from young people because we don't really see anything like that right now." 

Merk: So speaking of the climate crisis, I mean, it's something that's clearly important to you and at face value or I guess ear value, it's like, okay, you know, we should — it's a crisis. We should care about this. But why really should we care about climate crisis? 

Georgia: I mean, I think everybody has different reasons for caring for the climate crisis. I think there's the broad existential reasons of we're humans and we don't want the human race to stop existing. Most of us I would I would like to think. 

Nyge: (laughs)

Merk: I’m one of those, yes.

Georgia: There's sort of those big existential reasons. There's reasons of, you know, spirituality, of wanting to care for our planet, wanting to, you know, not make worse a place that we inhabit. But I think on a more granular level, you can find an intersection anywhere with climate. You know, it shapes how we live our lives. It shapes how we are going to form our families. It shapes how we're going to travel. It shapes how we're going to eat. But really, a lot of it just comes down to wanting to live, you know, wanting to survive, wanting a future. And that's to me, a really beautiful thing that we all have this joy of living and we want to preserve that. And that's why we fight. 

Nyge: Yeah, no, definitely. Thank you. Now, let’s get started on these clips! First, we’re gonna listen to one from an episode called “The Party Poopers,” which first aired in September 2020. You’ll hear the voice of Greta Thunberg, a teenage climate activist from Sweden.

(audio clip plays)

Greta: You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. Yet I'm one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. How dare you? 

Georgia: In late 2019, “The New Yorker” published a cartoon of Greta Thunberg, where she's literally carrying the world on her shoulders. The caption cartoon Greta says, “Somebody has got to do it.” The cartoon makes it seem like the whole of the climate crisis is up to a single 17-year-old. How could we ask so much of one child? The answer is: you can't. Not only is it unfair to her, it's unfair to the whole climate movement. There are tons of young people fighting today and many who have fought before, and we all feel the same terrifying weight. Yet for some in the media, the name Greta Thunberg has become shorthand for any climate activist, regardless of age, race, nationality, gender. And this ignores the fact that there's a rapidly growing movement of young people all in the same fight like Xiye Bastida. 

Xiye: In the U.S., there's a lot of youth led climate organizations. So we have Zero Hour, we have Extinction Rebellion. We have Sunrise Movement. Fridays for Future, U.S. Climate Strike, International Indigenous Youth Council, Earth Guardians. I could go on forever, right? But that's the point. 

Georgia: At just 18 years of age, Xiye is a climate superstar. She's spoken at U.N. conferences, has features in “Teen Vogue” and PBS. But if you haven't heard of her before, maybe it's because she isn't always referred to by her actual name. 

Xiye: One of the headlines one time was Xiye Bastida, the Greta Thunberg of the Bronx. I've been to the Bronx two times. And so I emailed them and I said, "I am actually not from the Bronx, I am not even from the US, I'm from Mexico." So they changed it to the Greta Thunberg of New York. 

Georgia: Don't get me wrong. Here at “Inherited,” we love Greta Thunberg, and Xiye loves Greta too. When Greta arrived in New York after her transatlantic trip last fall, Xiye was at the dock to greet her. So Xiye wants to be completely clear. This isn't Greta's fault, of course. It's those in the media who are forcing a particular narrative. 

Xiye: I've spent time with her. We've had several events together. She's the most sweet, humble girl in the world, right? It's not like she's even asking for this attention and the fact that the media is doing this to us because they're not doing it — they're doing it to her, but they're also doing it to us, and they're doing it to the narrative. There is this single story of what a climate activist should be, strives to be. We don't all have to be Greta Thunberg. We're not all Greta Thunberg. We're all different. We all have our own stories. We all have our own experiences. 

(audio clip ends)

Merk: What I appreciate about the point Xiye’s [Bastida] making is how mainstream media tends to overgeneralize populations. And I think all of us have commonly seen this in race reporting and how detrimental it is to society and personal narratives but I honestly don’t think I’ve seen it so much in the climate movement. But that's also because I'm not following it as heavily. Does hearing that people like me, your peer, not tuning in to this kind of stuff disheartening, honestly?

Georgia: No, it's not disheartening. It just makes me think that the media needs to do a better job of bringing in young people. I mean, that's part of why we're making this podcast, is because a lot of young people look at the mainstream climate movement and they don't see themselves represented there. And so they tune out. But actually, there are so many people, so many young people, so many young people of color like, Xiye, who is this incredible Indigenous activist and Indigenous — youth Indigenous activists are really, really active and powerful group within the youth climate movement, but they simply don't tend to get the same amount of coverage. It's gotten better, but that — there's a long way to go. And so I wouldn't say I feel disappointed in my peers when I hear about, you know, people not engaging with the climate movement. I feel disappointed in the fact that we've been told as young people that climate coverage A) only features a certain type of person and B) has to be sad and dry and boring, you know? None of those things are actually true. Climate coverage can be really relevant, and like I said earlier, it can intersect with just about anything we're doing. 

Nyge: Yeah, definitely. I mean, it's a part of everything that we do. Okay, this next clip starts with your co-host, Juliana Bradley, talking about youth activists from a group called the Sunrise Movement who took to the halls of Congress to call for change.

(audio clip plays)

Julianna: On Nov. 13, 2018, true to their name, the activists rose with the sun… 

Sunrise Activist: And we had an early start. I just remember going through security. There were like 150 of us, I think. 

Julianna: On the day of the sit-in, Sunrisers filed into the basement of the U.S. Capitol. Bleary-eyed government suits shuffled past them, unfazed by the line of baby faced activists in matching T-shirts. 

Sunrise activist: You know, this is still an office building, and as loud and rowdy as we want to be, we have to be respectful in the right areas. When we put our fists in the air, that meant it's time to be quiet. But we all put our fists in the air at once and it just looks so powerful. 

Julianna: They walked silently, fists raised through the marble halls until they reached Nancy Pelosi's office. Then they let loose.

Sunrise activist: It's like, boom, we're feeling it.

Sunrise activist: I had to, like, remind myself, my friends and classmates, they're in school right now. I'm in the frickin' halls of Congress, causing a ruckus, loving it. 

Julianna: After each of the Sunrisers dropped off their envelope, some gave speeches like Jeremy. 

Jeremy: And then I remember Aaron going to me and saying, Jeremy, it's your turn … They're leading us toward bullets and storms and fires because we've had to grow up one too many times. Speaker Pelosi, Democratic leadership, we are asking you to grow up.

Crowd: (applause)

(audio clip ends)

Nyge: What we can hear in these clips is the passion that these young people have in fighting for their future ish. ALL of our Future ISH. What kind of impact do you think them being school-aged activists has on those politicians, versus say people our parents’ age? 

Georgia: I just don't think people, our parents' age tend to have the same investment. I'm thinking about whether or not to have kids because of this. I'm thinking about how I should be saving, like, should I even be saving for retirement? What is retirement even going to look like if our Earth is not … 

Nyge: If Earth retired.

Georgia: Yeah, yeah. If the Earth retires first, I don’t know if I’ll be retiring.

Merk: Money goes bye bye.

Georgia: And so that's, yeah. So I just I think that young people have more stake in the game. You know, it's not a hypothetical for us young folks. It's our lives. It's our reality. 

Merk: So speaking of reality, let’s hear a clip from Jenna. This is a clip that lays out the climate disaster experience firsthand by her in 2012 when Hurricane Sandy hit her hometown. 

(audio clip plays)

Jenna: I just remember listening to the radio that night and hearing the wind outside and it's raining and then you hear the power go out. You hear any device that was running down. We were watching the TV. It shuts off in the middle of a sentence. But the worst of it hasn't come yet, so we kind of went to sleep not knowing what we were going to wake up to.

(wind howls)

Jenna: The day after Hurricane Sandy, we had no power, so we turned on the radio, the biggest thing we heard was water. There was water everywhere. There was water in the streets. There was water in people's basements. And the other big thing we heard was fire. There were fires in the Rockaways and that was the scariest thing because they didn't say where. 

News Announcer: The fire started about 11 o'clock when the hurricane was at its height. By the time firefighters made their way here, water pipes were bursting and there was little pressure in the hydrants. They laid hoses in the rising water. 

Jenna: There were fires in Breezy Point and there were fires in Belle Harbor, which is where I grew up. My neighbor two doors down from us, their house burned to the ground. The entire block, one block over, 20 houses burned. My neighbors next door were literally throwing rocks at the window of their next door neighbors because their house was on fire, trying to get their attention. They got out, but they had to swim through floodwater to get out. 

(audio clip ends)

Merk: It’s so scary to hear in detail all of this because it’s someone describing their own home not being safe to live in. And this actually reminds me of flooding that happened in my parents’ hometown last year in Hue, which is in Central Vietnam. And people were also without electricity, flood levels rose up to their hips. How preventable are these climate disasters anyway? 

Georgia: So there's two things to think about here. One is that carbon emissions have already risen a certain amount, right? So there's a certain amount that we can't change, but with that certain amount, so the existing amount of hurricanes, wildfires, that type of thing, we can certainly get a lot better at adapting to them and making it so that the toll is not so high every time. There are ways that we can build better, and so I think that's a lot of what we talk about when we talk about the Green New Deal is figuring out how to adapt. That said, all of these current levels would become so much worse if we don't take immediate action to cut carbon emissions, because the higher the carbon emissions go, the more and more frequent these storms and natural disasters are going to become. So it is a matter of urgency of making sure that we act sooner rather than later so that we don't continue to have to deal with escalating natural disasters. I personally do believe it's possible to adapt though. I don't think all hope is lost. I'm from the Northeast and so we're actually pretty familiar with hurricanes. Before climate change really started impacting things, there were a lot of hurricanes that would come through and our houses are built for it. We have storm windows, but there are places when you hear about, you know, like New Orleans after Katrina, that was — they were not prepared. The government was not prepared to support those citizens.

Merk: Or even in Texas, too. 

Georgia: Yes, in Puerto Rico, in Texas, recently in California with the wildfires even. I mean, there's countless examples.

Nyge: Growing up in Richmond, California, we have this alarm that goes off at 11 a.m. every Wednesday. And one of my friends is always on Twitter talking about, like, "Happy 11 a.m. on a Wednesday in Richmond," because this alarm that goes off and what we were like trying to do in school is everybody takes off their jackets and we put them all like at the bottom of the door and like we close all the windows and things like that because it's like preparing us for Chevron to have a, like, gas leak.

Merk: Oh my god.

Nyge: That's always something that it's a constant like reminder living over here that like you're in immediate danger and like your climate is in immediate danger. And so I've always felt like really helpless when it came to stuff like that. And I know everybody — most people from here who I've talked to feel the same way. They feel like, "I mean, yeah, but what are you going to do about it? It's Chevron." So, how do people go about making any change when it comes to something like that and like where does change start? 

Georgia: I think, you know, I am very much of the belief that change does start with pressuring our political leaders. At this point, I would love to say that we could work outside the systems of politics, but unfortunately, we are pressed for time and the systems of politics are not going to be dismantled anytime soon. And so right now, we have to work within them to the best of our ability. And so I think causing a ruckus and creating a stink and getting together friends, protesting, you know, nonviolent direct action. That's what has proven movement after movement successful, from the Sunrise movement, which you heard earlier, which I, you know, have volunteered with to the Black Lives Matter movement. You know, the way that they protested last summer. And by raising our voices and making it so that the politicians who represent us can't ignore us, they can't prioritize Chevron over our lives, over the lives of people in your town. That's unacceptable. I think looking to these youth climate movements that have taken to the streets to raise their voices, to make signs together with their friends, to write, to sing, to act, to, you know, create about climate. That is what will slowly shift the tides and bring it to our collective consciousness. And in doing so, make it our priority as voters. And that makes it the politicians priority and they have actual power to make changes. So it is you know, it's a slow process, but it can be done. It has been done. And we've made an incredible amount of progress already. 

Merk: So that brings us to our last clip, which comes from the most recent “Inherited” episode called "The Green New Dream." And it's my favorite because it features a montage of people's hopes for the future. So let's take a listen.

(audio montage plays)

Contributor: My dream world is a world where the people who are working so hard to ensure a better future are not having to burnout, where they have the resources that they need to keep going and to create an idealistic space for all of us and a world in which joy and celebration coexists with hard work and perseverance and protesting and pushing boundaries. 

Contributor: My ideal future would be one where elected officials govern out of love.

Contributor: Where nature is not forcefully codified by Western geology and economic evaluation.

Contributor: It's got clean green energy for all.

Contributor: Most workweeks are three to four days, and people have significant free time. 

Contributor: The unsheltered have safe homes, the hungry have nutritious foods, the sick are cared for without cost and we've healed our water and soil. 

Contributor: Loved ones will care for the dead and return them to the Earth and a green burial. They will act essentially as fertilizer for the plants. 

Contributor: I want to be connected with the land working through regenerative agriculture. I want to be writing more. I want to be taken care of the land, of livestock, of a family. I want to be in community. I think that's really what it's about. That's an economy of care right there. And that's that's what I'm fighting for.

Contributor: The future of my wildest dreams is one where I don't have to worry about the future. I'm not thinking what's going to happen next? What am I doing? How can I protect myself and my friends, my family in the coming years? The future of my wildest dreams is where we're living in the present moment, because the present moment is just so glorious and no danger is looming ahead. 

(audio montage ends)

[Music Break]

Nyge: “Inherited” is distributed by Critical Frequency. To stay up to date with the show, follow them on social @inheritedpod, and Georgia @georgiafrets on Twitter. And go ahead and add one of their episodes to your queue after this one’s over. Just look up Inherited, wherever you get your podcasts. We wanna thank you for listening to “Adult ISH,” produced by YR Media, a national network of young artists and journalists creating content for this generation. 

Merk: Shoutouts go out to our producer Georgia Wright for all her climate activism work and everything she does for our show, our Executive Producer Rebecca Martin, the young people at YR who contributed art and music for this episode and, of course, Mama E — our mother Earth — for providing everything for us. We love you very much.

Nyge: (laughs) I was like who's Mama E, like but shoutouts to her wherever she is. 

Merk: You don't know? You see her every day. 

Nyge: But yeah, big shout out. Today’s top takeaways are one … If they don’t give you a seat at the table, stand on it with a megaphone. 

Merk: And two, the climate crisis is real. Whether it’s water, earth, fire or air, you know how powerful these elements are in our lives. It really is on us to stay informed and care about our environment and the people who live in it.

Nyge: I thought you were gonna get into like the “Avatar” theme song because I see you, Katara, over there in your blue. 

Merk: “Water, earth, air, fire…”

Nyge: If you wanna share with us some future ish that you’re fighting for, let us know on our socials @YRadultISH. We might even share some of your stuff on our channels. To view our full transcript and browse through our vintage episodes, go to our website at

Merk: We’re also proud to be members of Radiotopia by PRX. An independent listener-supported collective of some of the most down-to-earth shows in all of podcasting. Find them at

Nyge: And now for an out of context clip of next week’s episode!

(audio plays)

[cash register drawer opening noise]

(audio ends)

Merk: Until then, reduce, reuse, recycle, y’all.

Nyge: Yeah, do all that good stuff, later.

Merk: Byeeee.

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