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At the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) Capital Dinner in Washington, D.C., youth Organizer and Promotor Joshua Knight addressed an audience of over 750 people from across the country, telling his story of becoming involved with LCV’s Chispa Arizona and what this work means to his family and his future. You can watch Joshua share his story or read his story below:
Good evening. My name is Joshua Knight. I am 17 years old and I am a Promotor with LCV’s Chispa Arizona.
I joined Chispa as a volunteer at the start of my junior year at BioScience high school. That year, I was assigned a year-long project of my own choosing. I chose to study air pollution. For years, Maricopa County has received an F for air quality. And I’ve seen how it affects my three-year-old brother. He was born with a respiratory illness. He has to wear a mask to play outside. We keep a nebulizer in our closet in case he has an attack.
A classmate invited me to learn more about Chispa. When I saw the ways Chispa was connecting with Phoenix communities, especially communities of color, I wanted to be a part of this movement. Communities of color are affected more than others.
We need to focus on the needs of our communities, not Big Polluters. Everyone has the right to clean air. And I mean everyone—regardless of their race, regardless of where they live, regardless of their background. This is for future generations, this is for my brother, this is for your brothers and sisters, this is for everyone.
I started working with Chispa, and I realized that I can protect our air and water, warding off illnesses before they start. Because of this, I’ve decided to study hydrology for the next four years—I want clean water for everyone.
For two years I’ve spent time talking with my community on the phone and at their doorsteps, engaging in conversations about climate and the environment. And you know what I’ve found? People in Arizona want to know more about these issues. They want to know how to get involved.
And it’s not just Arizonans who feel the urge to get involved. Yesterday, I attended LCV’s youth organizer training with my peers from across the country. They’re in the audience. Stand up, wave your signs, make some noise. My friends who just stood up are doing the same thing I am in their communities.
Being here this week, training and lobbying with my peers, seeing activists and leaders on this stage tonight, my understanding has grown. I’m invigorated. I’m inspired by all of the different people working together with their communities to make this country a better place to live. We’re a part of a movement.
This gives me hope. With all of us working together, our future can be one where clean air and clean water aren’t concerns for anyone. It gives me hope that we will succeed.
Over the next four years, that is what I’m working for and I hope everyone in this room will do the same. We’re in this together.