Member of the Month: Bella Santos

Meet September’s Member of the Month, Bella Santos! Here she tells us about how she got involved and her advice for other’s who are interested in making a difference.

How did you first get involved with SD350, and when was that?

I was connected to San Diego 350 through the Youth4Climate Summer Camp in 2020 and continued to get more involved in the organization. I was actually connected through a Girl Scouts page where a local mom shared the opportunity!

What drives your activism?

 Being able to connect with so many other like-minded youth who are passionate about environmental justice is so motivating. Seeing how our efforts translate to victories is so empowering! Whether it’s discussing climate change or our regular lives, I always enjoy spending time with the folks around me.

What do you recommend to people who want to have a larger impact through the environmental movement? What do you prioritize in your own activism?

I always tell people who want to get involved to just get started somewhere. Just attending one call will allow you to connect with others, learn something new, and take collaborative action for the planet. From there, you can see where your passions fit into the working puzzle of San Diego 350. In my activism, I make efforts to show youth the endless opportunities for involvement. Whether you’re interested in protesting, organizing, or even graphic design, there is always a place for you in the movement! I work to prioritize using a JEDI lens in my activism after learning that BIPOC and low-income communities are hit the hardest by the climate crisis despite contributing the least to emissions. As many are already being negatively impacted today, it is important that we take urgent and equitable action. 

Is there anything else you would like people to know about you?

I’m a rising junior at Westview High School in Rancho Peñasquitos. I am a Girl Scout and tri-sport athlete playing soccer, lacrosse, and field hockey! Within SD350 and Youth4Climate, I am a part of the teams Youth v. Oil, Plastic Free Gen Z, Eco-Club Coalition, and was the Spring Media Fellow. I am currently working on spearheading a Y4C summit called the Eco-Club Coalition Leaders in Action Workshop (ECCLAW) on August 28 from 2:30-5 PT. This ECC kickoff is an opportunity is for youth and their advisors to help jumpstart and grow their eco-clubs for the coming school year. We have updates for all of our events on our Instagram @youth4climate.350 !!

Members of the Month: A Youth Perspective

Members of the month: Megan Phelps, a fourth year UC Davis student and content volunteer; Claudia (Alexa) Castruita, a Hilltop High (Chula Vista) junior and Coordination Team member; and Isabelle (Izzy) Lee, a Baldwin School (Pennsylvania) senior leading the Production Team.

Interviews conducted and condensed by SD350 Volunteer Lorenzo Nericcio

This month, SD350 has selected three Youth Volunteers as the Members of the Month. Each helped coordinate and run the Youth4Climate (Y4C) summer camp—currently in its second session of the 2020 Summer—to help teens get more involved with the policy and outreach necessary to mitigate climate injustices in their communities.

Our three members of the month are: Megan Phelps, Claudia (Alexa) Castruita, and Isabelle (Izzy) Lee. The interview that follows has been lightly edited for clarity.

How did you get involved with SD350 and when was that?

Megan: I got involved with SD350 when helping contribute to the Fight Like a Climate Activist Handbook that my mom (Jennifer Phelps) was writing last year. I then contributed to the Youth Summit this past spring. My heavy involvement really started with the Y4C Summer Camp!

Alexa: I first became involved with SD350 when I attended the Youth Climate Summit in my freshman year of high school in 2019. Recently, I became further involved when I joined the Youth Climate Leader weekly calls and eventually the Y4C Summer Camp Planning Team.

Izzy: I’ve been involved with SD350 for a couple of months now. During quarantine, I’ve been able to explore and pursue my interests more deeply. After learning more about climate change, I was determined to join a climate action organization, and I’m glad I found SD350!

What drives your activism?

Megan: My concern for the lives of people around the world and the biosphere that will be impacted by the destruction of climate change gives my activism purpose and meaning. I’m equally motivated by the people in the climate movement and the feeling that I can be creative in my activism!

Alexa: I’m driven by the feeling that, although as a Latina I represent a group who experience various disadvantages, I still have privilege and owe it to my community and all other BIPOC communities to use my own voice to amplifying those of others without a platform to speak for themselves.

Izzy: Coming from conservative background, I never really thought about activism. But, when I joined SD350, I realized that activism is a form of expression of passion about particular issues. My views have now changed, and I hope that others will join us in the fight for a more sustainable future!

What is your role within the Y4C Summer Camp, and how has this experience helped develop your leadership as a youth climate activist?

Megan: I have worked on the content team and have helped put on weekly live sessions, parties, and socials. Y4C has given me hope to see how strong, capable, and creative young people are. It’s a relief and an inspiration to see how the campers take the challenges and run with them!

Alexa: My role in the Y4C Summer Camp is as one of the co-leaders of the Overall Coordination team, which oversaw the work of the other teams in a way; it definitely taught me more about my capabilities as a leader, and pushed me to be more responsible and thoughtful of others.

Izzy: As a member of the planning team, I’ve been helping to prepare the Y4C Summer Camp for the past couple of months. I’m also the leader of the Production Team and a member of the Promotion Team. This has shown me how powerful and effective our voices can be in the climate movement.

What else would you like people to know about you?

Megan: I am so happy and feel so lucky to be alive during a time when I can enjoy so many beautiful things about the earth—the ocean (where I love to swim and bodysurf), great food (which I love to cook), birdsong, frog croaks, the smell of the SoCal sage, and my great family and wonderful friends (who support me in my activism and personal growth)!

Alexa: I’m always open to learning from my mistakes and am really passionate about what and who I love. I don’t believe environmental justice can be achieved without social justice, and I hope to one day live in a world where everyone is kinder to each other.

Izzy: I’ve been a certified scuba-diver since I was 12 (five years ago). I’ve always loved the ocean and been passionate about ocean conservation. After learning how increased carbon in our atmosphere affects the ocean’s acidity levels, I became more interested in learning about climate change. I’m really glad I joined SD350, and can’t wait for more to come!