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Organization aims to engage young Mainers in climate action

A local organization is seeking to bring young minds together on climate change issues affecting communities across Maine.

PORTLAND, Maine — Maine’s climate isn’t just changing, it’s evolvinglike the choices young Mainers will make every day in the future. 

There’s an initiative in Maine aiming to get more young people engaged in that evolution. 

NEWS CENTER Maine's Meteorologist Jason Nappi went in-depth in our ongoing "Maine’s Changing Climate" series. Nappi shows us how adding more voices to the conversations around the impact of climate change carries Maine communities safely into the future.

"The Gulf of Maine is warming faster than any other body of water its size,” Jono Anzalone said.

Anzalone is the executive director of the Climate Initiative, an organization mobilizing 10 million youth voices for climate action by 2025. He said the climate risks are right here in our backyard. Just one example is Ocean Avenue in Kennebunkport flooding more often than usual, according to Anzalone.

“Over the past years those areas where one would maybe hear or see of those locations flooding every few years has now become a much more regular occurrence,” Werner Gilliam, director of planning and development for the town of Kennebunkport, said.

Gilliam said the next generation needs engagement, like asking what the future of their community will look like.

“It doesn’t matter what your background is, people are experiencing the effects of climate change. So, really, getting youth involved and talking to their family and their friends and their communities about ways they can positively impact the places that they love,” Anzalone said.

Places like Goose Rocks Beach in Kennebunkport are increasingly underwater, according to Anzalone.

"This is the time for 13- to 23-year-olds to make their mark in climate change,” Anzalone said.

The person tasked with heading that for the organization is Michelle Radley. She’s the Kennebunkport town planner working with the Climate Initiative on the climate task force. And while Radley is not new to Maine, this is her passion.

“I’ve had deep ties to Maine my entire life," Radley said. "Maine’s a small town, so I really want to be able to get involved in allowing residents from many walks of life to be able to be involved in the future that is going to be facing their community."

By using a mixture of media, including social media, such as Instagram, Facebook, the town website, and newsletters, the Climate Initiative and Kennebunkport are getting young Mainers ages 13 to 23 involved.

“This first public workshop is going to be based around buildings and energy, and is going to be our first chance for wider public engagement for the town,” Radley said.

Radley added the goal is to get a diverse and equitable group of people showing up and sharing options, so there are no gaps in creating the climate action plan for the future.

The first public workshop was originally scheduled for Feb. 8 at the Graves Library in Kennebunkport but has since been postponed. A new date has not yet been set. Attendees will be able to give feedback on the future of Maine and climate change.

To learn more about the Climate Initiative, click here.

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