Most young activists meet in college, perhaps in a political science class or campus coffee shop. Not so the mid-teen founders of the youth climate change organization Zero Hour. Try Instagram instead—the political meeting ground for the youngest activists, and an easy place to connect even from opposite sides of the country.
Nadia Nazar was just 15 and living in Baltimore when she came across Zero Hour Founder Jamie Margolin’s Teen Ink essay and then, by extension, her Instagram account. Before that, Nazar had been interested in environmental issues, mostly centered around animals and vegetarianism. But Margolin’s call for more active protests concerning climate change led to an online meeting, and then the formation of Zero Hour.
Nazar is now the co-executive director and art director of Zero Hour and is an old hand at active protests thanks to the organization’s march last year. And all of this by the ripe age of 17.
Nazar is currently in Miami preparing for the This Is Zero Hour Youth Summit. This ambitious two-day event is held in a hot zone for climate change, a city that will be devastated by rising sea levels and increasingly violent weather patterns—a location chosen because Miami, at sea level, has so much to lose.
The summit hosts speakers from all over the world, including a remote link and
Nazar took time away to answer some questions for Parentology.
You created Zero Hour’s distinctive 10 minutes to midnight clock/globe image. How does art activism play into Zero Hour’s mission?
I always look at art as a visual tool to bring people together. It’s an easy way to get a message
Art is a key element to help movements. It brings people together on a common issue they’re passionate about. The ticking clock logo I created has been a symbol not only for the Zero Hour
The workshop starts off as a few speakers speaking, then we get into the creative brainstorming activities. This gets people thinking creatively about different actions and how creative those actions can be. We’ll have different stations with music, painting, graphic design, so people can explore which medium they like best.
What do you want people to know about climate change?
I feel like people don’t understand the big picture. Climate change is about so much more than the environment.
How is Zero Hour changing policy and mobilizing for the 2020 elections?
We’ve influenced elected officials, and they’ve included the youth voice and our perspective in discussions about policy. I represented my generation at a congressional hearing back in February for the House Central Resources Committee; they reached out and supported the youth perspective. I think people see pressure from adults as different than pressure from a bunch of kids. But our actions do have an impact.
Going into the 2020 election, we’re going to keep the pressure on and make sure every elected official knows if they don’t have an effective climate plan, they aren’t just going to be voted in. They’re going to lose their job. I’ll be 18 next year and voting in the 2020 election. I can’t confirm any mobilizations at the moment, especially because we’re in the midst of a mobilization, but the pressure is definitely going to be on.
Do you have a personal message to the world
Stay hopeful! I know it can be really frustrating sometimes. Turn your frustration into motivation. Take that anger and pain you feel from the injustice that’s been caused to our generation, take that pain and anger and put it towards action. That’s the only way we’re actually going to make a change. One person can do so much, I guarantee you. They just have to believe in themselves.
To learn more about Zero Hour, visit http://thisiszerohour.org.