South Eugene High School is known for its activist student body and clubs, so when Corina MacWilliams, Wesley Georgiev, and Sage Fox found that there was no standing climate club in 2015, they decided to form their own.
Earth Guardians 350, best known as EG350, stands on the pillars of civics, activism and education, aiming to raise the youth’s voice in the climate justice movement and bend the curb of climate change. Not able to decide on just one organization to branch off of during formation, the founders decided to become a chapter of both Earth Guardians and 350 Eugene. Earth Guardians is an international organization that encourages kids to reconnect with and stand up for their environment. 350.org is an organization dedicated to raising awareness about climate change and the surrounding policies. The number 350 represents the safe upper limit of carbon dioxide in the environment in parts per million. Eugene is currently at 405 parts per million.
Earth Guardians 350 is now run by Corina MacWilliams, Alden McWayne, Serena Orsinger, and Ian Curtis. The club has broken into team groups, each focusing on a different project. The diversity of the projects allows the club to tackle climate change from a multitude of directions. One group is securing the installation of double sided window panes and solar panels at South to reduce total carbon footprint. Certifying South as an Oregon Green School, another project, promotes sustainability. To be certified, the team had to collect information about South’s waste output and energy use, including holding a trash audit, in which IOP and EG350 members dug through South’s trash to weigh the total waste output. Another group is investigating what companies the 4J school district is invested in, to work toward divesting from any environmentally harmful companies currently supported by the 4J school district. A larger scale project is the Oregon Youth Legislative Initiative, which aims to give the youth a voice in the state legislative process. Earth Guardians 350 is working to find a youth constituent from each senate district in Oregon and place them in contact with their own legislators ensuring that local lawmakers are aware of the urgency of the current climate crisis and the passion that students have for a healthy environment. Through these projects, Earth Guardians 350 has become highly involved at South, promoting a climate friendly environment.
“I joined EG350 because I really care about the environment and I felt like there wasn’t enough for me to do on my own. I wanted to join an organization that had good intentions,” senior Maddie Van Houten said.
Beyond South, Earth Guardians 350 seeks to support greater climate causes, such as the Juliana v. U.S. case. The case is represented by Our Children’s Trust, with 21 youth plaintiffs and Earth Guardians, including South alumni Kelsey Juliana, who are suing the federal government over the constitutional right for a safe climate. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has decided to hear oral argument over whether the Trump Administration can evade trial, set for Feb. 5, 2018. Oral arguments for the case will be heard in San Francisco, Calif. on Dec. 11, 2017. Earth Guardians 350 plans to organize students and march in support of the hearing on the day of the trial.
Earth Guardians 350 meets on Mondays at lunch in Room 418. With a broad array of projects all tackling a quickly changing environment, empowering youth to stand up for what they believe in, Earth Guardians 350 is a great club for any student interested in social justice, activism, and preserving the world around them.