STF Events: 2022-2023
As we wrap up the 2022-23 academic year, STFers from Canyon, Da Vinci, Palisades Charter and Wildwood high schools engage their classmates in advocacy and demanding decision-makers uphold basic human rights.
Scroll to see photos of these year-end efforts:
April 12 – 26, 2023: STFers at Amino Venice Charter, Carson, Da Vinci, Hamilton, New Roads, Palisades Charter and Wayne Hills high schools hosted events that encouraged their classmates to speak up for human rights abuses in the U.S. immigration system.
The documentary “The Real Death Valley” and a reenactment of an asylum seeker’s credible fear interview in the Southern Border tent exhibit engaged audiences in discussions about the deadly impacts of federal deterrence policies. STFers also collected petition signatures, demanding Congressional action and amplifying the voices of their peers.
Scroll to see pictures from some of these events:
Celebrate 10 Years of HRW’s LA Film Club with The Territory
Please join us on Sunday, May 21 at 4pm for the HRW LA Film Club’s 10th anniversary with a screening and discussion of The Territory. Limited comp tickets available for STF students, teachers, and alumni.
Presented at Sony Pictures Animation Studios in Culver City
9050 Washington Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232
Sunday, May 21, 2023, at 4pm
4:00pm | Doors open
5:00pm | Screening begins
6:30pm | Panel begins
7:15pm | Reception
About the film: The Territory provides an immersive on-the-ground look at the tireless fight of the Indigenous Uru-eu-wau-wau people against the encroaching deforestation brought by farmers and illegal settlers in the Brazilian Amazon. With awe-inspiring cinematography showcasing the titular landscape and richly textured sound design, the film takes audiences deep into the Uru-eu-wau-wau community and provides unprecedented access to the farmers and settlers illegally burning and clearing the protected Indigenous land.
Volunteers needed! Let us know if you can help at the event.
(Click to watch the trailer, 0:30)
A Night of Gratitude for Pam Bruns
Photos by Kristin Ghazarians and Patricia Williams
April 11, 2023: Old and new friends gathered to celebrate Pam Bruns, the founder of the Human Rights Watch Student Task Force.
STF alumni, teachers and supporters expressed their gratitude to Pam for her commitment to young people and human rights. In a thank you video and throughout the night, guests honored Pam’s steadfast dedication to justice, equality, and empathy for others, which has had an immense ripple effect in the lives of so many. Attendees reflected on the wide-reaching impact the organization has made over the past 23 years and expressed excitement and anticipation for what the future holds.
“Broadening the human rights movement includes young people and students because nothing happens in this world without them. So I am so pleased at this point in my life to know that there is a trajectory here for the Student Task Force and a place at the table for the students who are already making contributions to advocacy for human rights…” Pam said while thanking everyone for their support of STF.
Why They Flee
March 27-28, 2023: STFers at Da Vinci Schools, Hamilton HS and Santa Monica HS hosted film screenings, table events, and interactive tent exhibitions to educate their classmates about threats to the human right to seek asylum in the US immigration system.
STFers led discussions on why people flee their homes to reach the United States and the policies that impact what happens once they arrive. They also collected petition signatures that will be hand-delivered to their Congressional representatives in the coming months.
Scroll to see their events:
Joining HRW’s Fight Against Anti-Asylum Policies
Photos by Patricia Williams
January 28, 2023: “If we’re one of the strongest nations in the world, we should have the resources to receive people who are fleeing persecution… But for the last three decades, the U.S. has spent billions of dollars setting up a militarized southern border that focuses on detaining and punishing people“, said Vicki Gaubeca, Associate Director of U.S. Immigration and Border Policy at HRW. Vicki’s description of the history of racist, punitive policies along the U.S. southern border shocked STFers at the 2023 Winter Leadership Workshop.
Sharing tangible advocacy steps to address our inhumane immigration system, HRW’s U.S. Border Researcher Ari Sawyer explained: “We’re opposing all deterrence policies that are blocking asylum at the U.S. southern border. Having you take a petition to your representatives explaining what we want to change will be a big help.”
In breakout groups, attendees discussed human rights violated by U.S. border policies and identified ways to educate and engage their school communities in the Human Rights on the Southern Border campaign.
Visit STF’s Human Rights on the Southern Border Toolkit to get educated and find out how you can join the fight today!
Human Rights Front and Center
In their final weeks of the fall semester, Student Task Force members hosted a range of events and activities honoring Human Rights Day. Despite busy schedules and final exam preparations, students kept human rights front and center in their last days of school before winter break. From in-chapter conversations and quiz games to school-wide surveys and poster displays, STFers once again demonstrated their commitment to human rights advocacy.
Check out some of their events:
Students Vote For The Planet
October 27- November 9, 2022: STF chapters hosted mock elections, interactive tent events, and classroom presentations as their final get out the vote efforts leading up to the 2022 midterm elections. STFers highlighted the importance of being prepared and making informed decisions about candidates and propositions when voting.
Chapter members extensively researched the issues of this year’s election, connected them to human rights and the climate crisis, and presented this research to their classmates and teachers. Across chapters one point was clear: the most effective step we can all take to protect our planet is to vote for candidates and measures that will reshape the ways we address climate change for years to come.
STF Shines at HRW’s Voices for Justice Dinner
Photos by Sarah Desage, Kamelia Photography and Leela Cullity Younger
October 6, 2022: Attendees at the 2022 HRW Voices For Justice Dinner enjoyed an evening with Human Rights Watch staff who investigate US democracy, children’s rights and LGBTQ rights.
To kick off the event, in a private meet and greet with HRW researchers Hye Jung Han and Amanda Klasing, STF students and teachers heard about groundbreaking investigations detailing how education technologies violated children’s right to privacy during the pandemic. They also learned of HRW’s United States Democracy Initiative which focuses on economic and social rights, reproductive rights and more.
Later, STFers spread the word about their Vote for the Planet campaign, engaging dinner guests in conversations about what is on the ballot in the midterm elections, environmental justice concerns and their recent advocacy successes. Dinner participants also signed pledges to vote for the planet and get out the vote this November.
Journalist Lisa Ling, Cuban activist Carolina Barrero, musical artist Rostam and HRW’s Director of Communication Mei Fong took the stage during the dinner. There was also a special shout out to STF with a new video highlighting the program’s legacy and impact. Current students and alumni shared their experiences and how STF shaped their lives. Watch the video and share it with your networks to spread the word about STF.
Challenging Caruso at Rally
September 23, 2022: Late last Friday afternoon, as the STF Global Climate Strike demonstration was ending on Sunset Boulevard in Pacific Palisades, one student shouted, “There’s Rick Caruso!” The Los Angeles Mayoral candidate (versus Karen Bass) was across the street, walking his dog while touring his mall, Palisades Village.
Several STFers from Palisades Charter High School waited for a green light, then ran across Sunset and talked Caruso into visiting their rally.
“What are you trying to accomplish here?” Caruso asked the students, who were joined by members of a new community organization, Resilient Palisades. (Watch Rick Caruso speak with STF members)
“We are trying to raise awareness of the climate crisis on the political agenda,” said Madelyn. “Politicians should really be focused on the climate crisis.”
“I agree with you,” said Caruso, who waved to several drivers that honked as they went through the intersection. His dog stood calmly at his side.
“This issue is important now, and we have to take action now,” said Ellery.
“Ellery is right—the problem has to be handled now; it should have been handled a long time ago,” said Caruso, who praised the students for “making noise and bringing it to people’s attention.”
After Caruso mentioned a water-recycling program at his Palisades mall and emphasized how “we should be pushing everyone to be doing the right thing for our environment,” a student asked, “How exactly are you planning on doing that as mayor?”
Caruso cited several highlights from his plan.
One, “We need recyclable water. We have billions of gallons that go into the ocean; we should be putting it (back) in our natural aquifers and filter the water so we can use it over again.”
Second, “We need to change our power plants to hydrogen, which is completely clean burning, and take out natural gas burning, to lower CO2 emissions. We have got to advance the solar agenda, but it’s very inefficient and hydrogen is very efficient.”
A demonstrator asked, “So your agenda is to create new infrastructure. How would it be funded? We already have the technology to create solar, but we don’t have the infrastructure to have hydrogen power.”
Caruso responded, “No, you can take a power plant and convert to hydrogen very easily. We’re testing hydrogen at a power plant in Utah and it’s working well. We could bring it [the technology] out here to L.A. and we’d have zero emissions.”
PaliHi environmental science teacher Steve Engelmann introduced himself and pressed Caruso, noting that “the majority of hydrogen is not produced with green energy.”
“We are testing green hydrogen,” Caruso said.
Englemann asked, “So the question is: It takes energy to produce green hydrogen, and that is where solar can help make that hydrogen.”
“I agree with that,” said Caruso. “I think you go after every technology and see what does the best. And then let’s adopt the best practices.”
Gesturing to Englemann, Caruso told the students, “You’ve got a great teacher right here. Keep it up—I’m proud of you guys.”
He then headed back to his mall to attend a Zoom meeting.
During the demonstration, three fire trucks came speeding along Sunset, horns blaring, and a protestor shouted, “The planet’s on fire!”
Registering for the Planet
September 19-23, 2022: STFers across Southern California hosted events and rallies in honor of National Voter Registration Day and the 2022 Global Climate Strike. They urged classmates and community members to consider the future of the planet at the polls this November and joined in solidarity with thousands of young people worldwide who strive to keep the climate crisis front of mind for those in power.
Scroll to see their events and stay tuned for STF’s Week of Action part 2!
Let’s Get Started!
It’s time to hit the ground running on our Fall 2022 Vote for the Planet Campaign! Be sure to explore the resources and information available in our new toolkit to help you get started.
It’s up to us to demand climate change is addressed and encourage our communities to vote for the planet this fall. In the Vote for the Planet toolkit, you’ll find materials to help you urge friends and family to vote, ideas for on-campus outreach and advocacy, talking points to address with candidates running for office, and more. Together, let’s use these resources to fight for change in our neighborhoods and beyond!
Disrupting the System
September 10, 2022: “The most critical thing youth can do right now is to combat greenwashing. Call out BS where you see it. Educate yourself so when the time comes for you to advocate on this issue, you can knock these people flat down,” said Sim Bilal, 20-year-old climate activist from South LA, to participants at STF’s 2022 Fall Leadership Workshop.
At the kick off of the Vote For The Planet Campaign, STFers identified ways to disrupt the system and ensure decision makers at the local, state and federal levels take climate action. Sim emphasized the power students have to make it so that candidates running for office can no longer ignore the effects of climate change. “It’s up to us to take control of the narrative and make people focus on the climate crisis. Every issue in this election is impacted by the climate crisis, including homelessness and public safety… Fight them with facts!” he urged.
In breakout sessions, participants reviewed the Vote for the Planet toolkit and role played how to engage educators, candidates and friends in their advocacy. Armed with these resources, STFers will register and educate voters, as well as reach out to candidates, urging them to prioritize climate policy and action in the midterm elections.
Next steps include STF organizing events for National Voter Registration Day (Tuesday, September 20) and the Fridays For Future Global Climate Strike (Friday, September 23).
We have the power to make change, and no effort is too small!
The STF Team, Pam, Kristin, Jordan, Jenny and Leela
STF’s Human Rights and the Climate Crisis Campaign in Review
We’re thrilled to share our Human Rights and the Climate Crisis Campaign in Review! Explore highlights from STF’s work to bring renewable energy and climate education to campuses. Students and teachers will use this resource in our ongoing activism to fight climate change during this Fall’s midterm elections. Congratulations on all your accomplishments, we look forward to your ongoing advocacy for human rights and the planet!
RSVP Today! STF Fall Leadership Workshop, Saturday, September 10
We’re excited to announce Sim Bilal, a youth climate activist featured in the LA Times, will help us kick off our Vote for the Planet Fall Campaign at the STF Fall Leadership Workshop on Saturday, September 10, 11-1pm on Zoom.
RSVP today to receive the link to participate in the workshop!
Who: STF students, teachers, alumni and special guests
When: Saturday, September 10, 11:00am-1:00pm PT
Where: Virtually on Zoom
Mark your calendars and RSVP today!
We hope to see you there,
The STF Team: Pam, Kristin, Jordan, Jenny, and Leela
Guest Speaker Sim Bilal: As a member of a frontline community effected by environmental racism, Sim Bilal has influenced political debates and discussion around the 2022 LA mayoral race and will share strategies and motivation for our advocacy. Click to learn more about his activism.
Student-Led Green Energy Plan Passes in Long Beach!
[Editor’s Note: Diana Michaelson of the Long Beach Green Schools Campaign helped STF launch the Human Rights and the Climate Crisis Campaign during our 2021 Winter Leadership Workshop.]
August 18, 2022, Long Beach Post:
On Wednesday evening, the Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) school board unanimously approved Board Proposal 3510.1, better known as the Green School Operations – Energy and Sustainability Policy.
That action was the culmination of two years of activism by the Long Beach Green Schools Campaign, a dedicated group of LBUSD students across a number of high schools and middle schools. The group’s founder Diana Michaelson, an incoming senior at Poly High School, has been at the forefront of the effort, working directly with district leadership on the policy and organizing student activists to provide a consistent presence at school board meetings since August 2020.
“We obviously really wanted this to pass, but it was really empowering as well,” Michaelson said. “Like we’ve reiterated so many times today, it’s been a collaborative process… I think we all had the jitters today realizing that this is a really big vote that’s coming up. It was a mixture of nerves, but also relief and faith in the school district.”
The revised proposal included a specific timeline for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2045, in alignment with current goals from the state of California. The LBUSD will be transitioning to zero-emissions vehicles and machinery “as rapidly as recapitalization cycles and budgets allow.” …