Students, parents, and volunteers arrived at Tryon Creek State Park and were met by Emily and Isaac who escorted them through the forest of the state park until they got to Tryon Life Community Farm, a lovely place, protecting from the rain, but still outside in the nature. They were greeted by the Ambassadors leading the Academy: Lilly Rensmith, Miko and Isaac Vergun, and with Willa Rensmith assisting. Pam, the moderator, introduced Plant-for-the-Planet, and our host at Tryon Life Community Farm, Jenny Leis, gave us a welcome and told us about the Farm. Then, the three main Ambassadors gave the presentation “How we children save the world”.
Then, we took a break and enjoyed a healthy and delicious snack.
We played the World Game, using old pearl-like beads to represent carbon, and large and small shells to represent people and wealth, which was rather tricky since we were on blankets and mats on the bumpy ground—the carbon (-pearls) was particularly (and realistically) troublesome. Yet the students gained a lot of knew knowledge on climate justice.
Meanwhile the parents of the attending students had a parents meeting and eagerly discussed how they can support the soon to be Ambassadors for Climate Justice in their actions.
Then we turned to Rhetoric Practice and discussed what makes a speech effective and gave out the slides with the presenters-notes so students could practice giving small parts of the talk. Meanwhile, thanks to first-time volunteers Catherine and Becky, we had reached out to local stations, which resulted in the visit of Robert Dingwall from KOIN TV. Robert interviewed Pam and Isaac for the evening news, while the ambassadors worked with the students to help each decide who would present which slides in the afternoon.
We then went for a hike past the sweat lodge and the goats to the place where we were to plant the tree, with students and Ambassadors taking turns carrying the rather large, beautiful, red-leaved vine maple. Isaac explained how to go about planting a tree, and everyone took turns planting it.
Afterwards, we came back to the picnic tables and area around the outdoor kitchen and had the most awesome lunch, made with love by several volunteers, with some of the parent volunteers joining us. We shared a blessing appropriate for everyone and talked about the importance of taking only the food we know we can eat and making sure that nothing is wasted—that we can save leftovers and compost all that is left or can’t be eaten. All enjoyed the food tremendously—dal, black bean chili, rice to match with lots of toppings and other treats.
Then, Pam and the ambassadors helped the students to practice the presentation for the afternoon slideshow, for which all the parents gathered.
The students dropped their notes to the ground, after we offered them chocolate bars, if they were to present without them and they went on speaking freely, and doing a great job All the students presented, keeping to their resolution to presenting without notes. The presentation was attended by the families of the students and the volunteers from P’nai Or.
Also Octavia Chambers, Social Responsibility Impact Manager of the NBA basketball team the Trailblazers, helped to impress the students with the importance of what they were doing. Octavia brought gifts for the Ambassadors and soon-to-be Ambassadors and presented them on everyone’s behalf to the Ambassadors leading the Academy: 2 cool Blazers’ posters, Blazers stickers, and Blazers lanyards!
After successfully finishing their presentation, the students received their appointments as Climate Justice Ambassadors, along with their certificates, the books Tree by Tree, Everything Would Be Alright, and the gifts from the Blazers.. Eventually we got everything cleaned up, especially thanks to Catherine, Rob, Emily, and Xavier, and walked up the lovely, tree-lined road to our car.
We would like to thank all those involved in this wonderful Academy. The ambassadors Miko, Isaac, Lily, and Willa did an awesome job leading the Academy together with the moderator Pam. Special thanks to Emily, Catherine, Octavia, and for the kind donation by Jenny and Tryon Life Community Farm for giving us the use of their beautiful home.
Find more fantastic photos of the academy here!