Mallary was a youth storyteller during the 2019 Youth Climate Convening in Red Wing, part of the Youth Convening Minnesota program.
I’m from a small town in Minnesota called Frontenac.
What I love about where I live is how homey it feels. We are a pretty close knit community and I like that. When you walk down County Road 2 in Frontenac, you come to the Frontenac Pond. The way the sun glistens and showers the water with purple melting into pink, then orange and yellow, is such a beautiful thing to watch.
I took piano lessons when I was younger and had to walk to my lessons. I would pass the pond on my way there and I always would look for birds. If you were very still, you could very clearly see the tiny birds hiding out among the reeds. I’ve had a lot of close experiences with nature living here, which I’m appreciating more and more.
I remember very vividly when I was about nine or ten years old, I saw this beautiful iridescent blue dragonfly clinging to our wooden swing set post. I remember watching it for a while, thinking how crazy it was the longer I watched it, that it hadn’t flown away. I decided to draw it so I ran inside, grabbed a piece of paper and some crayons, and rushed back out to see if it was still there. It was. When I finished I was like, “is there something wrong with this dragonfly?” Because even the wind would try to knock it down and it would stubbornly cling there. I grabbed a stick and poked it and away it flew.
To this day I still think it was some kind of magic that made it stay for so long. I was very grateful to be able to finish my drawing and was just entranced by the whole thing. In Frontenac, there is more than nature too.
Living in a small town has made me want to be a better person.
We don’t have a lot of kids here so we want to keep the friendships that we have. It makes you want to be friendly to everyone because you know you are going to see them again. It’s amazing how just saying hi to someone can make their day a whole lot better. It has made me feel more confident in who I am. It’s made me want to be more independent and do more things for myself, because it’s a community that I feel safe in. It’s made me want to take my family tent camping at the Frontenac State Park and ask for a kayak to go kayaking on the pond; it’s something I hope to do soon, maybe even this summer.
When I was around ten years old, I used to look out the window during car rides and think that we should really have more trees to take away the carbon dioxide. I think what led me to this was how many trees there are in people’s yards and when you look at the area surrounding the roads, there’s just not a lot of trees. Now I know so much more.
I joined cross country in eighth grade and heard about how to join Sustainability Club from some students on one of our bus rides to a meet. I really wanted to be involved more in the environment around this time, and this sounded like a fun opportunity to do something meaningful. I also want to have a job working outdoors and to help the environment and knew this would help me decide if that’s what I really wanted to do. I’ve definitely been thinking more about climate change because of Sustainability Club.
Recently, I took a trip down to Camp Pepin with the Red Wing Environmental Learning Community and we were originally going to have to canoe in, so that was a first. We had a fishing contest in February on the Frontenac Pond and apparently not as many fish were caught as we usually do. A Sportsman club member said this was probably because the weather was too cold. We had to take our ice shack off the day after the contest because of the impending snow that would warm the ice. That was really sad because when I was younger I wasn’t that into fishing and being outside, but now I am.
In eighth grade, I had a teacher named Mr. Bender for Global Studies. He showed us a map once that said Minnesota had cool summers. He said that the map was not wrong, that that was what the climate was really like when the map was made. He said that was proof that our climate was warming up. That was really shocking to me. I think at that point in my life, that was the only tangible proof of climate change that I could really grasp at so it was a big deal for me.
Since then I’ve realized this is so much bigger than myself. Climate change and our warming planet will affect everyone.
No one will be left unscathed. We are all going to need each other if we want to see a change. It reminds me of Frontenac, where people know and care for each other. If we put our heads together now, we may be able to reverse some of the effects coming our way in the very near future. Our time to act is now.
I want to start small, right here in our community, and then I want what we do here to ripple out and change the world. A better world to me would be a place where no one felt like they had to hide anything. Not weight, not religion, not gender identity, or beliefs. It would be a place where there were no stereotypes. I think that sometimes we are pushed into stereotypes and then we start to believe in them and act that way. It would be a place where we all treated each other as equals and didn’t talk down to anybody.
We would respect that we all come from different places and all bring different things to the table. There would be a heck of a lot more empathy. I really hope we would be able to come together on immigration and figure out many solutions. It’s so hard because they need a place to stay and we can offer that. There has to be a way to have everyone experience the safety that I feel in our community of Frontenac. Everyone should feel like they can voice an opinion.
We all need to feel wanted and respected and that should be a right, not a privilege.
I hope we can keep working towards this. I would love to have a hand in making this future not just a dream. My part in this would be the peacekeeper. I’m like this in my family. I try to hold everything together and act as the mediator. It’s hard work. I think a lot of times we push away standing up for others or ourselves because of the fear of getting burned and taken down with the victim.
I want to be like the dragonfly that mesmerized me so long ago. I want to stay even when it feels awkward or uncomfortable. To push past my comfort zone to lean into the possibility of what can be.