Although the next two weeks of school are my last of the semester with finals threatening me with dirty glances, for the past few days I’ve been sitting in my Georgia home, celebrating Thanksgiving with my family and trying to remain wrapped in a quilt for as long as possible. I’ve been mixing Chemistry and cooking, Spanish and pleasure reading. I’m analyzing maps and planning Christmas gifts. Stress isn’t just looming, it’s here, but my balance is keeping me sane in the meantime. I still can’t help but dream of the beautiful West Coast I left behind last Sunday when I made my trek back East. In San Francisco, the weather was golden. The hills of Sausalito absorbed the sunshine and filled me with physical and emotional warmth. I couldn’t have asked for a better atmosphere. But why was I in San Francisco? Let me explain….
Every year Teens Turning Green hosts a competition throughout the month of October that culminates in the “final challenge,” what I like to call TTG’s annual conference, held in San Francisco in November, aptly named Green U. In fact, this past weekend was my two-year anniversary of the first time I attended Green U. Needless to say, I was thrilled to return. The first year I went to Green U, I was a finalist in Project Green Challenge. Now I wear many hats – I’m a mentor to current finalists, I introduce the main speakers, and I help set up for various meals and functions, but mainly I aim to assist everyone in every way possible and facilitate meaningful discussion. I am so blessed to have been able to be a part of the inaugural year of PGC and every time I return to California I feel recharged and ready to tackle even more environmental issues than the last. Teens Turning Green has changed my life and taught me about my personal stewardship, conservation, and responsibility on this earth, and this ties into my faith as well. I’ll discuss this more later, but I am grateful for this organization and the people that make it breathe.
Green U 2013. Yet again, a life-changing event. I rolled into San Fran Thursday evening and in the blink of an eye I was on my red-eye flight out early Sunday morning (12:45 am, to be exact). What happened between my arrival and departure had a profound impact on my thoughts, lifestyle, and future. On the first day, finalists learned about cooking healthy and sustainable foods using techniques like shopping at the farmers market and, my favorite, FORAGING, with guidance from Alicia Funk, author of Living Wild. Then, the finalists got pampered and dressed head-to-toe in recycled, organic, sustainable, and all-natural skincare/makeup and clothing (thanks to the wonderful and generous sponsors!). They participated in the finalist photo-shoot and I helped coordinate this part of the day. The day ended with our opening-night dinner and a truly inspiring and engaging speech from a personal hero of mine, Annie Leonard of the Story of Stuff Project (if you haven’t seen her videos, click here). She discussed her entrance into the environmental movement and what she has learned about the impact of solidarity and her personal narrative along the way. This speech was probably my favorite part of the day and a great way to transition into Saturday’s festivities. Even though I felt a bit disconnected at first (I was still recovering from my stressful week of school), I was overjoyed to be spending time with my dear friends and embracing the beauty of Marin County. As the weekend continued, I became re-engaged and gave my green batteries a much-needed recharge. Unfortunately, I was unable to hear the finalists’ presentations and participate in the campaign-building that happened on Sunday because I had to leave early, but what I learned throughout the weekend as a whole was well worth the relatively short period of time I was able to stay in California.
I’ll be sharing what I learned on Saturday in Part 2. Stay tuned!