Young Authors Speak Out on Climate Justice

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of articles that will highlight the creative work of young students in the 826 MSP program, which aims to “amplify the voices, stories and power of K-12 BIPOC students.”

“It’s a park without a park,” remarks my 8-year-old student Leyat, glancing across Minnehaha Avenue at the sad-looking triangle of grass designated a “tiny park” by the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board. Where’s the playground? other students ask. The flowers? The water fountain?

A student shares their ideas for the triangle park near 826 MSP.

For the 12 students in Outdoors Outspoken, a summer program from 826 MSP, a youth writing and publishing program in south Minneapolis — and the place where I’ve worked for the past five years — questions like these are part of the curriculum. Outdoors Outspoken aims to amplify young people’s voices on issues of climate change and environmental justice through creative writing, art and social action.

This summer, students have splashed around in Minnehaha Falls, visited a Metro Transit bus garage, met with a Park Board commissioner, learned about our state’s Indigenous roots, stenciled storm drains and harvested onions on an urban farm — all while expressing their ideas, feelings and hopes for our planet’s future through writing. 

Students pose for a silly photo while stenciling storm drains.

At the end of the program, students published their stories, poems and artwork in a zine and held a release party to share their work with family and community members. I am excited to share some of their writing with the Streets.mn audience and make their important, timely words accessible to more readers.

Young author Leyat reads her newly published work at the Outdoors Outspoken release party.

In My City
by Faisa, age 9

In my city it’s busy

In my city people play

In my city it’s colorful

In my city there’s pride

In my city there’s litter

In my city there shouldn’t be litter

In my city there must be fairness

In my city we need equality.

Climate Change
by Samira, age 11

Blue skies

Black air,

Brown water,

oily lakes,

suffering children,

starving families,

lost homes,

hurricanes,

flash floods,

storms,

death,

climate change.

Cherish
by Hamza, age 12

I took a tour

I saw our climate

I saw that this world

did not really care for that,

was very defiant.

But I was praying

this world really isn’t changing

Joe Biden was doing amazing

All bad people are just breaking

the robbers just keep taking

the drought keeps the ground flaking.

The adjustment Joe Biden

is making, it’s like people

are saying

But in reality I

care, but other people

don’t, so that’s not

fair.


826 MSP’s mission is to amplify the voices, stories and power of K-12 BIPOC students through writing, publishing and leadership programs. To learn more about 826 MSP, check out our website or visit us on social media @826msp (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram). Photos courtesy of 826 MSP.

About Ellen Fee

Ellen Fee is a writer, educator, and proud St. Paul resident. Ellen grew up in Wisconsin and studied English at the University of Minnesota. In her free time, Ellen enjoys gardening, cooking, camping, and crossword puzzles.

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1 thought on “Young Authors Speak Out on Climate Justice

  1. Lou

    Thank you, Ellen, for an excellent article showing how Mpls is highlighting the voices of BIPOC residents on issues important to the city’s and region’s future.

    If Outdoors Outspoken studies street safety in the future, I’d encourage you to send the kids’ ideas to the Mpls bike and pedestrian committees, and, for county roads, to the Hennepin County Active Transportation Committee (“ATC”; I’m a member). Equity and climate change are both part of the ATC’s mission.

    Keep up the great work!

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