Updated: Jun 27, 2021
Here at Seaside Sustainability, we are amazed by the work of activists that strive for sustainable change in their communities. We wanted to highlight some of them in our new series, “Environmental Activist in Action”. We are honored to have our first featured local activist, Solomon Goldstein-Rose, who is a politician, author, and climate activist. He was a representative in the Massachusetts House and has focused on clean energy, empowering youth, and introducing bills toward meeting these goals. He was also a member of the Amherst-Pelham Regional School Committee while in high school. After attending Brown University and taking part in the political world, he has synthesized research and carried out outreach and analysis with the goal of solving climate change. This has all come together in his book, The 100% Solution. We had the exciting opportunity to interview Photo by: Violet Kitchen
Solomon and asked him for his thoughts on
climate change as a prominent activist.
Q: How long have you been involved in environmental work/activism, and what inspired you to get involved in this kind of work?
A: I have been a climate activist since age 11 when I organized a local petition to Congress against oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. I don't actually remember when I first learned about climate change—I've always taken for granted that it's the most pressing issue for human life/health/economics and for other species—but I did grow up in the forests and mountains of Western [Massachusetts] and have always felt an emotional connection to our natural systems.
Q: Do you have any role models that led to your interest in this field of work or any stories that stand out and inspired you in your journey?
A: My 6th-grade teacher read us a book, It's Our World Too, which was a collection of stories of elementary school-aged people being activists in their communities. That definitely inspired some of my early projects and helped reinforce the idea that kids could do anything as well as adults.
Q: What are some of the favorite things you have done relating to advocacy and why?
A: I try to guide and plan my work, and later I judge it, in terms of very tangible outcomes. So overall I'd say I'm still figuring out how to have the most impact. One small-scale success that was personally quite enjoyable was leading my high school's environmental action club. We raised $2,000 to protect tropical rainforests with a program that supported Indigenous communities. That felt like a reasonably meaningful achievement for a small high school group. I also helped create a new leadership structure for the group, which lasted at least a year or two after I graduated and made the group more productive—that structural side of organizing is incredibly important, especially for ongoing groups with high turnover, like at schools.
Q: What advice would you give to other young people hoping to join the environmental movement?
A: Don't "wait your turn" for any kind of leadership. Do consider what actions will have bigger impacts, and which are just "feel good" things for the activists themselves (which can also be useful in empowering people to keep up their work, it just can't be the only thing you do!).
Q: What are your future plans and what makes you hopeful about what is to come?
A: I'm hopeful because of [...] youth movements that have put climate change near the top of the political agenda in the US and Europe in the last two years. [...] And large companies have started shifting seriously toward clean energy investments, more thoughtful carbon offset programs, and sustainability commitments. We need to accelerate all that. Currently I'm helping with a project to invest in potentially key but underfunded companies that have a path to scale up climate change solutions.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to say or that you think is important to highlight?
A: I wrote a book, The 100% Solution, which is (in my not so humble opinion) a great overview of the physical things we need to achieve to solve climate change—one of the only comprehensive, global analyses I've seen that's written for anyone to read. I also helped with a project to explain the Biden climate plan through comics, which is fun and could provide activists with effective talking points/messaging ideas. See SolomonGR.com and Picturing Policy for both of those.