Young activist encourages Eau Claire community to participate in climate activism

By Grace Olson

Earth guardian’s youth director calls all generations to fight climate change. 

Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, a climate activist calls on all generations to fight climate change. © Grace Olson 2019

“Regardless of how small, we have to be doing something,” said Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, a climate change activist and hip-hop artist. 

Martinez spoke to over 300 faculty, staff, students, and community members at Schofield auditorium on the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire campus. This 77th forum speech took place on Tuesday, December 10, 2019. 

Martinez is a youth director for Earth Guardians, an environmental activist group making changes around the world. This groups hopes to inspire youth to create change through music, art, storytelling, and legal action. He has been working since the age of 6 to put an end to climate change. Working in his hometown of Boulder, Colorado to end the use of pesticides in local parks. 

Martinez often calls to the youth because they are the future. They are the going to be the ones deciding which policies take place and the state of the world’s climate said Martinez.

Martinez acknowledges that small individual steps are important in this fight, but simply using less electricity or going vegan is not enough. Activists need to stand up to large corporations responsible for the rapid climate change crisis Martinez said. 

Audience member Sydney Rae said, “awareness for everybody, not just the youth,” is incredibly important to climate activism.

Martinez focused on the importance of all generations getting involved in the climate change movement. He stressed that young people do need to be in the front of the movement, but this does not excuse all older generations in fighting with them. 

In the Q and A session with the audience of the forum, Martinez spoke about his beginning involvement in climate change. He said his supportive family was his strong foundation to his start in activism. He spoke on how fortunate he was to have a family so involved in what he was passionate about from a young age. 

He called to all audience members to find something they are passionate about. Then educate and identify with current problems of that passion to get started in activism. 

Martinez recalls an experience he had in Minnesota talking to high school students in a predominantly conservative community. He noticed a strong difference in energy between him and the students. But he called on the power of music. When he sang one of his hip-hop songs to the students, he noticed a big change in energy. Students then became engaged and involved in what he had to say. 

Being a hip-hop artist, Martinez said how music brings him to life and is often how he feels comfortable sharing his message. 

Martinez spoke on the need to reframe the way climate change is talked about. Often this conversation drains the participants and leaves people uninspired. Martinez hopes to reframe this conversation to leave people wanting to get involved and make a change. 

Martinez recalled an experience he had that forced him to get involved in climate activism. Wildfires wiped out forests where he grew up going to play and connect with nature. Experiencing a natural disaster firsthand put into perspective for Martinez, what others were going through around the world every day.

Martinez spoke on how climate change does not just affect sea levels or the amount of carbon in the air, but the culture from ancestors. Culture is lost if care for the planet is lacking, said Martinez. Passing down these ideas to generation to generation is what will allow the youth to remain inspired.

 “Whatever makes you love life, that’s what we need to protect,” said Martinez speaking on the impacts of climate change.

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