“While I’ve been involved in YEA! MN the past 5 years, my experience working in the climate movement I feel came to a culminating point when I was able to join over 50,000 citizens in calling on President Obama to move forward on climate and to reject the Keystone Pipeline. As our march around the White House came to an end, I had a man who must have been in his 50s or 60s tell me two weighted words: “I’m sorry. I’m sorry you have to be here today.” He offered no explanation of his statement and it was clear we did not know each other, but we both knew what he meant. He was sorry that his generation had in many ways failed my own. And he was sorry that he was like myself – he had to take to the streets – in order to demand for the future that was rightfully ours. It must have felt great for him to get those words off his chest, but what was I supposed to do with that? Apologies cannot cut carbon. Apologies cannot alleviate the drought that still plagues half our country. Apologies cannot undo the damage or lives lost from Hurricane Sandy. No, apologies cannot do these things. Saying I’m sorry cannot fix this. So let’s prevent the need to say it in the first place. Today, let’s get to work on the change that needs to come. So we don’t have to apologize for the way that we face this challenge later. Today, let’s start turning the apologies of past generations into the thank you’s of those to come.” – Cole Norgarrden Co-Chair of the Will Steger Foundation’s YEA! MN high school environmental leadership program.
Youth like Cole have been unafraid to speak up to advocate for their generation and the future they want, whether it be marching in Washington D.C. or visiting with legislators at the Minnesota Capitol. Watch Cole here: