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Youth: A Powerful Renewable Resource

Joshua founded Global Awareness Local Action (G.A.L.A.) in 2006. Its goal: to translate sustainability education into local action that is practical, effective and fun. G.A.L.A. received a Starbucks™ Shared Planet™ Youth Action Grant in 2010 through the International Youth Foundation to engage youth “Sustain-A-Raisers” to help families in New Hampshire pursue more sustainable lifestyles.

There is a powerful renewable resource right under our noses that gets little attention these days compared to the familiar icons of solar panels and wind turbines.

It’s people. Especially young people.

That’s right, we are the most powerful untapped renewable source of energy. But a renewable resource is only valuable if effectively harnessed. Fortunately, the tools and knowledge already exist to fully tap young people’s potential to create more sustainable, desirable and resilient communities – one household at a time.

And this is where the story of Sustain-A-Raisers begins.

Sustain-A-Raisers leverages people power by orchestrating youth volunteer-led sustainable home and yard makeovers. Projects include the installation of rain barrels, compost bins, gardens, solar hot water systems and my favorite – solar clothes dryers (a.k.a. clotheslines!). Whatever the project is, it must empower the recipient to help reduce pollution, conserve resources and save money. And in the process, the participants must have fun!

Sustain-A-Raisers applies the 19th century neighbor-helping-neighbor “barn-raising” model to tackle 21st-century challenges like climate change, water scarcity and volatile food systems.

Our power lies not in the difference a single (or even 1,000) new backyard compost bins can make. The power is in the difference we can make when the model goes viral; when the number of people composting grows to the point where we have collectively diverted one-third of all household waste from the landfills. Or when our household energy consumption drops by 10% because we’ve inspired a third of the population to use a clothesline. These are the numbers and impact that is possible when we inspire and engage our most promising renewable resource – youth!

Our ultimate goal? We’re looking to revive a culture of reciprocity. Reciprocity breeds resilience. If we want our communities to thrive in the face of rising oil prices and resource depletion, then we need to remember that helping our neighbors and investing in our communities one household at a time is in our self interest and necessary for a sustainable future. Sustain-A-Raisers uses a tried-and-true community-building model that does just that.

Are you ready to get started? Visit galacommunity.org to learn more.

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