52. Marching for Justice and Planet Earth, with Kawika Ke Koa Pegram

What exactly is student voice? This question has become the hot topic in public, private and charter schools here in Hawaiʻi, for which I am glad. Sometimes the conversation revolves around giving students agency over their learning. At other times we talk about public exhibitions of learning and the ways students might articulate what they know and what they can do. Conversations around student activism, especially around ways to encourage kids to be politically active, seem fewer and farther between. I wonder sometimes if we are afraid to encourage this kind of deep community involvement for fear that parents might object or schools might feel liable. My guest today is Kawika Ke Koa Pegram, a recent graduate of Waipahu High School now matriculating at American University in Washington, DC. He cares not for these debates, in my humble opinion, because he is too busy acting on his beliefs, political and otherwise. Kawika is a member of the Youth Commission for the State of Hawaiʻi. He is also the Executive Director of the Hawaiʻi Youth Climate Coalition and a Youth Activist for the United States Youth Climate Strike. Kawika has written articles on climate change for both the Honolulu Star Advertiser and Hawaiʻi Business Magazine. He was especially active in the leadup to local and national elections here and in Nevada in the Fall of 2020. He is one of more than 60 student leaders who have stepped up to lead climate strikes in cities and towns across the country in 2019 as part of a global school strike for climate action modeled after the example of Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg. He was inspired to become a leader for climate action after East Island, a small and unpopulated island in the French Frigate Shoals, was swallowed up by the sea after a hurricane last fall.  He has forged contacts with the Hawaiʻi chapters of organizations like 350.org and the Sierra Club, as well as progressive political groups like Our Revolution and The Progressive Movement of Hawaiʻi. His role in the movement involves creating messaging, working directly with student government groups across Hawaii to get youth on board, and gathering support from elected officials like Senator Mazie Hirono. In short, Kawika Ke Koa Pegram is a – to use Guy Kawasaki’s term – a “remarkable person,” and he is just getting started. In this interview I pitched him some pretty philosophical questions about life on Planet Earth and range vs. specificity. He knocked them out of the park. So please enjoy and if you love this conversation, give us a rating and review at your fav podcast store. As always, my sound editor and the creator of our theme music is Daniel Gilad at DG Sound Creations. Dial him up at his Facebook Page

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