An Interview With Sonia Molodecky
Take Action. Apply what you have learned through finding your passion, educating yourself, connecting with others, and examining your community! Begin taking action and making an impact in the lives of others. Once I had the concept for Climate NOW I began taking action by speaking to schools, starting a club at my school, and organizing weekly climate strikes.
As part of our series about young people who are making an important social impact, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sarah Goody.
Sarah Goody is a 15-year old climate activist from the San Francisco Bay Area recognized by publications such as Teen Vogue, NBC Nightly News, PBS and Forbes Magazine. Sarah is the founder of Climate NOW and Broadway Speaks Up. Climate NOW is a youth-led organization dedicated to educating and empowering youth to take climate action. Broadway Speaks Up is a platform inspiring Broadway Performers to speak up for climate action. Broadway Speaks Up has rallied artists from over 50 Broadway Shows to bring climate awareness to their industry.
Sarah has spoken at schools and rallies and has appeared on podcasts and shows as a guest speaker. She is a published author, with work in Teen Vogue and Forbes. In 2020 Sarah received the Princess Diana Award, the highest accolade a young person can achieve for social action or humanitarian efforts.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us about how you grew up?
Hi! My name is Sarah Goody and I am a 15-year-old climate activist. I am the founder of Climate NOW, a youth-led climate organization educating, empowering, and giving back to communities. Climate NOW has provided climate education to 20,000+ people. I am a 2020 recipient of the Diana Award and my work has been featured in publications such as NBC News, Forbes, and Teen Vogue. I believe the way to a climate solution is through the education and empowerment of young people.
Is there a particular book or organization that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
When I first became passionate about climate justice I watched the movie Cowspiracy. Cowspiracy is a documentary about the impacts of the animal agriculture industry on our planet. Cowspiracy was an eye-opening film, as it exposed me to the hidden injustices that were invisible to the everyday eye. I felt like I had been lied to all my life. That the burger I had the night before didn’t come from a happy cow, on a happy farm. My experience watching Cowspiracy opened my brain up to the possibility that world leaders and businesses didn’t always have our best interest in mind.
You are currently leading an organization that is helping to make a positive social impact. Can you tell us a little about what you and your organization are trying to create in our world today?
I am the founder of Climate NOW. Climate NOW is a youth-led organization educating young people about climate change and the ways that they can help the planet. Climate NOW partners with schools and teachers to bring climate education into the classroom through presentations, curriculum development, and interactive lesson plans. Climate NOW believes that education is power, and key to developing the next generation of environmental activists.
Can you tell us the backstory about what originally inspired you to feel passionate about this cause and to do something about it?
I was first introduced to the climate crisis in the 6th grade. My class spent a month dedicated to exploring the causes and effects of climate change. This was an eye-opening experience for me. I began to understand the direct impacts that the climate crisis would have on my community, my future, and society as a whole. I came to the realization that I couldn’t just sit back and (literally) watch our planet burn. It was in this moment that I made a promise to myself to never stop fighting until I saw a future where the human race could thrive in safety and peaceful coexistence with nature.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?
One time I was giving a climate presentation to an elementary school, and at the end of the presentation I spotted a familiar face in the crowd! It was my school therapist from when I was in elementary school. This therapist had played a defining role in my childhood, and it was her that helped me seek help at that time. After I finished presenting we caught up and it was a total full circle moment!
Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?
Earlier this year, I received a letter from a young girl. This girl wrote to tell me about her passion for our environment and how, as an eight-year-old, she had felt incapable of helping the Earth. She went on to let me know that when she saw a video of me speaking in her english class, she resonated with my message. We went back and forth, exchanging letters. I, providing guidance regarding ways to reduce her carbon footprint and help her classmates learn more about climate change, and her, telling me about her passion for the environment and how she was implementing my suggestions.
How do you define “Making A Difference”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
“Making A Difference” is taking actions to directly impact another person or living being. I believe that activism and “making a difference” go hand in hand. My definition of activism is dedicating a small part of everyday towards benefiting society. Being an activist and making a difference can happen through actions as “small” (There is no action too big or too small) as purchasing the apple with no plastic wrap instead of the cut and prepared apple in the plastic packaging. We can all be activists and make a difference in the world, if we commit to helping others and going about life with empathy and self-awareness.
Many young people would not know what steps to take to start to create the change they want to see. But you did. What are some of the steps you took to get your project started? Can you share the top 5 things you need to know to become a changemaker? Please tell us a story or example for each.
- Find your passion
Explore different social justice issues and movements through watching documentaries, listening to podcasts, and reading books. Find a global issue that tugs at your heart; an issue that you can’t quite turn away from. For me that was climate justice, but for you it could be women’s rights or racial justice! What’s important to keep in mind is that essentially all issues relating to justice and peace are interconnected. If you decide to pursue climate action that doesn’t mean you aren’t advocating for animal rights or global poverty.
2. Educate yourself
Once you have found a cause that you are passionate about, begin learning more about it! The more that we know about the issues affecting our planet, the better understanding we have of what solutions need to be put in place. Learning is something that you never stop doing as an activist! It is crucial that you have an understanding of the issue you are passionate about and that you feel comfortable speaking to others about it.
3. Connect with others
Build relationships with like minded youth passionate about activism! Creating connections and community is essential to movement building and learning more about your issue. For example, after learning about climate change I began reaching out to climate activists on Instagram and Twitter. I would DM young people who were taking action, and ask to connect via phone or email. Over time, I developed an immense network of young people, who like me were passionate about making a difference!
4. Examine your community
After connecting with others who share your passion, take a moment to examine your community and the ways that the issue you are passionate about impacts the people around you. I originally got the idea for my organization Climate NOW after seeing a need for climate education in my community. I would talk with friends at school and noticed that a majority of them had no idea what climate change was, let alone how to take climate action.
5. Take Action
Apply what you have learned through finding your passion, educating yourself, connecting with others, and examining your community! Begin taking action and making an impact in the lives of others. Once I had the concept for Climate NOW I began taking action by speaking to schools, starting a club at my school, and organizing weekly climate strikes.
What are the values that drive your work?
I am driven by empathy and vulnerability. I believe it is important to structure my work around being vulnerable with myself and with others. Having gone through depression at a young age, I understand the importance of speaking up about issues that make me feel vulnerable. Through portraying my most realistic self, I can help other young people find comfort in life’s ups and downs. I urge my followers to embrace their uniqueness and be at peace with exposing one’s quirks.
Many people struggle to find what their purpose is and how to stay true to what they believe in. What are some tools or daily practices that have helped you to stay grounded and centred in who you are, your purpose, and focused on achieving your vision?
In our busy world, it can be challenging to find time to reconnect with yourself and stay grounded in your purpose. I recenter myself through 3 practices.
- Practice Mindfulness — Mindfulness is the practice of being in the present moment. Focusing on the present moment is crucial to staying centered in who I am and the vision I am aspiring to fulfill. My favorite meditation app is Stop, Breathe, and Think.
- Connect with Inspiring Stories — I make a constant effort to connect with stories that relate to my passion and re-instill a sense of urgency and purpose in my everyday work. I recently watched David Attenbouroughs, A Life on this Planet. Viewing material such as A Life on this planet, helps me connect back to the initial reasons why I began fighting for climate justice.
- Journaling — I organize my thoughts, goals, and responsibilities in a journal that I reflect on and write in everyday. Having something to help me process my accomplishments and flesh out my goals helps me stay true to my mission and purpose.
In my work, I aim to challenge us all right now to take back our human story and co-create a vision for a world that works for all. I believe youth should have agency over their own future. Can you please share your vision for a world you want to see? I’d love to have you describe what it looks like and feels like. As you know, the more we can imagine it, the better we can manifest it!
My vision for the world is to create a society that is grounded in youth empowerment and advocacy. Young people are the leaders of our future, and it is critical that we train young people to be compassionate and innovative champions of social justice. I believe the key to making this vision a reality is through education. Starting at a young age, we should be educating youth about the issues impacting our society and giving them the key resources to take action to benefit others. In the next decades, I hope to see young people standing up for their futures and taking charge of creating a society that works for all people. We are already on our way to creating this future. The recent election of Kamala Harris for vice president of the United States is one of many defining points for the next generation asserting themselves into positions of power and influence.
We are powerful co-creators and our minds and intentions create our reality. If you had limitless resources at your disposal, what specific steps would take to bring your vision to fruition?
Before addressing youth advocacy I would tackle increasing carbon emissions, as our ever changing climate will define the future for my generation. First I would implement a national climate plan to invest in clean energy and turn the United States carbon neutral by 2030. From there I would implement climate education into the mandated curriculum for schools across the United States.
After tackling the climate crisis, I would create a national program to address social injustices in America. This program would draw government funding to provide young people in schools across the United States with the education and resources to find causes they are passionate about and help their communities.
I see a world driven by the power of love, not fear. Where human beings treat each other with humanity. Where compassion, kindness and generosity of spirit are characteristics we teach in schools and strive to embody in all we do. What changes would you like to see in the educational system? Can you explain or give an example?
I would like to see mandatory climate education as a part of the curriculum for grades k-12. Action starts with education, and it is vital that young people are provided with the adequate information about climate change and our environment. Climate change should not be a subject that is taught at one grade level, it should be a subject matter integrated into learning at every grade level.
If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?
Your voice is powerful. So use it! Find an issue that personally speaks to you and from there dive in and start learning as much as you can about it. The more that we know about the issues affecting our planet, the better understanding we have of what solutions need to be put in place. From there, begin taking action by volunteering for an organization, organizing actions in your community, educating others, and changing your individual habits to reflect your beliefs. As a young person you have the power to change the world and inspire others in the process.
Is there a person in the world with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
I would love to meet Lin Manuel Miranda. His work has had a profound impact on my life, and I would love to have a discussion about his humanitarian work and how he has used his platform to help others. Lin has inspired millions of people and I would be interested to see how he stays true to himself and his passions!
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Readers can visit www.sarah-goody.com or follow me on Instagram @sarah.goody4 to learn more about my work and follow my journey. To learn more about Climate NOW visit www.climatenow.solutions or follow @thisisclimatenow on social media.
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!
About the interviewer: Sonia Molodecky is a Canadian-Ukrainian lawyer, entrepreneur and heart-centered warrior who’s spent more than 15 years working in human rights, international law, business, economic development, community empowerment and her own personal journey into herself. Seven years ago, Sonia left a comfortable position at one of Canada’s top law firms as a finance lawyer and National Chair of a Latin American Services Group, to co-found the Global Indigenous Development Trust. A Canadian indigenous-led not-for-profit, the organization works to empower indigenous communities and traditional knowledge systems worldwide to build natural economies and healthy futures for people and the planet. Sonia has since spent time living and working with indigenous nations around the world, as a facilitator, partner, shaman apprentice and friend, gaining a deep understanding of both ancient systems and modern ways, and our interconnection with all life. She is a certified kundalini yoga practitioner, energy healing facilitator, avid adventurer and explorer of the natural world. Her passion is helping people realize their true potential as human beings based on a heart-centered path — one that is built on the energy of love, abundance, health and joy. She speaks world-wide on topics related to meaningful collaboration, life economies, the power of partnerships and the benefits of informed, empowered and engaged communities. “It is time for us to take back our human story and co-create a new vision for a world that is in harmony with ourselves, each other, the Earth and all beings,” says Molodecky. Her book, A New Human Story: A Co-Creator’s Guide to Living our True Potential. launches December 2020. You can learn more about Sonia, her book and her podcast at www.soniamolodecky.com and follow her at https://www.instagram.com/soniamolodecky or https://www.facebook.com/sonia.molodecky
Young Change Makers: How Sarah Goody of Climate NOW Is Helping To Make A Difference In Our World was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.