Can young people make a difference? Planet Forward Correspondent Alum Max Sano reflects on his experience at the March to End Fossil Fuels in New York City. Keep reading
Planet Forward Alumnus | Franklin & Marshall College, New York UniversityContributor
My name is Max and I just graduated from Franklin & Marshall College with a B.A. in Environmental Studies and Government and a minor in Arabic Language and Middle Eastern Culture. I was born and raised in New York City (Manhattan and Queens). This fall, I will be pursuing a M.A. in Food Studies (Policy, Cultural Analysis, and Social Entrepreneurship) at New York University Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development.
I have engaged in a variety of interdisciplinary environmental research projects with F&M professors, such as the Environmental Migration Lab with Professor Eric Hirsch and the Sustainable Food Systems Working Group with Professors Eve Bratman and Patrick Fleming. In my first year, I assisted in the foundation of the Environmental Migration Lab alongside over a dozen other students, interviewing and transcribing conversations from immigrants, refugees and organizations such as Church World Service Lancaster and CASA PA as well as designing environmental impact surveys in order to compile quantifiable data on the effects of climate change and its associated political, ecological, social, and economic impacts. Additionally, as a third year, I coordinated and co-drafted a proposal to the Educational Policy Committee to establish a Sustainable Food Systems program within F&M's Earth and Natural Environment Department in order to engage the student body within the local food system.
As an undergraduate student, I delved into ecological and socio-environmental advocacy at various levels of governance and reach. Within Lancaster county, I helped plant native tree saplings, remove invasive species from streams within the Chesapeake Bay watershed and co-drafted a science literacy pamphlet for the Amish farming community as a project intern with the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay. I also led social media and lobbying efforts for the local Citizens' Climate Lobby chapter, an organization that provides resources and workshops to enable local communities to engage in politics, reach out to their elected officials and become agents of change. I organized get-out-the-vote campaigns between CCL Lancaster, Environmental Voter Project, and Postcards to Swing States alongside climate activist James "Jim" Sandoe in order to reach out to first-time voters ahead of the 2020 U.S. presidential election to register to vote for climate action. During my junior and senior years, I interned for the re-election campaign of former PA Treasurer Joe Torsella as a campaign finance intern. During this experience, I learned the ins and outs of state-wide political campaigns within the Democratic Party while also gaining valuable experience processing data and donations from climate and environmental political action committees and donors.
The culmination of my advocacy, research, and journalism efforts has resulted in the formation of The Greenzine, a resource and publishing hub redefining the public's perceptions around climate change, climate action and environmentalism. Our work is interdisciplinary, intersectional, and multimedia in that it covers multiple subject areas, involves various aspects of identity, and intends to reach people where they're at in terms of their learning style! It started as a monthly newsletter when I served as the Social Media Chair and President of the student-run Environmental Action Alliance and Fair Trade Cafe, and has gone on to blossom into an international, grassroots platform for the planet and people reaching dozens of countries, institutions, and communities. If you are interested in joining the team or pitching a collaboration/story idea, please consider filling out this brief survey. If you do not have the time to join, please consider supporting us through our Patreon.
Currently, my main focuses are on bridging together consumers and producers within our food systems so that we can foster a deeper consciousness and connection between built and natural environments. I intend to this by hosting in-person educational events and community-centric activities while I work as an in-house gardener and barista at a Queens-based cafe called Elevenses. Alongside building up The Greenzine platform, I will be writing remotely about environmental ethics and related issues for a UK-based, Gen Z-led media organization called Thred. I also work part-time at a martial arts studio called Modern Martial Arts NYC that I have trained at throughout my childhood and into adulthood.