Minnesota students address climate change, environmental justice in hip hop video

How do you get a group of urban high school students interested and involved in issues like climate change and environmental justice? Connecting it to the music they love is a good bet… and we’ve already seen how hip hop’s worked as a tool for engaging target audiences on topics ranging from local, healthy food to the damage created by plastic shopping bags.

In Minnesota’s Twin Cities, teacher Joseph Adamji also used the musical medium to get his students talking not only about climate science, but the effects fossil fuel pollution has on the communities in which they live. Dubbing themselves the Climate Change Crew, his students wrote the song “Change is Needed,” and produced a video of it… and now that video’s getting attention as the winner of Green for All’s Dream Reborn Story Contest.

Clearly, these kids “got it” from the outset… all participate in programs at the Kitty Andersen Youth Science Center, a “youth development organization based out of the Science Museum of Minnesota with the mission to ‘empower youth to change our world through science.” A background video on the project shows members of the Crew discussing their dedication to teaching even younger kids about “green” issues as they apply to their community… so climate science is embedded in the concept of economic and personal empowerment.

Adamji went right to the musical connection upon starting his work with these students: according a post he wrote for Green for All’s blog, he observes

As an educator I see the value in beginning with what moves us all, music. Music is an educational tool, both in the creative process, tapping into a brilliance many go their entire lives without realizing, as well as in its power to reach people through education and outreach.

He’s also been nominated for a nine-month fellowship with Green for All, and plans to use the time to develop “alumni” programming that keeps students in the Climate Change Crew involved with environmental issues beyond their time at the Science Center.

Know of other programs like this connecting kids to their environments through music? Let us know about them…