Zahra, then a fourth-grade student at Golden Lake Elementary School, had written a letter to city council in June. It read, in part: “It would be wonderful if the city could declare a climate change policy.”
That inspired some council members to follow up on a presentation they’d seen at a conference about the Minnesota Greensteps program. The city announced after Zahra’s presentation that it would take steps to officially become a Greensteps city.
“We know that climate change is real,” said Lt. Gov. Flanagan. “Young people can and should reach out to their local leaders and their community to ask what they’re doing to address climate change and encourage them to do more, and that’s what Numa did.”
“We need to build more resilient communities and climate change is a real threat,” said Commissioner Bishop. “We want to listen to our youth and ensure those voices that are talking about our future are heard.”
Zahra said many young people are not talking about climate change, regardless of recent national and international headlines about protests and speeches by youth activists.
“I think some of them don’t really care about (climate change),” said Zahra, who after a family move is now a fifth grader in Plymouth. “They want the government to do it or the president to do it.”
She acknowledged, as did the state leaders, that action is not coming from those higher offices.
“We’re going to address climate change, and going to be as resilient and ready as we can, with Numa’s help,” said Circle Pines Mayor Dave Bartholomay. “She kind of pushed us to do more, and we’re very appreciative of that.”
“She clearly has the ears of this administration,” said Flanagan as she and Bishop flanked Zahra at the podium. “She’s already increased her impact beyond Circle Pines in the state of Minnesota, and we’re really proud of you.”