The Story of Emilia & Max

#FridaysForFuture is a leading hashtag on twitter referring to the global Fridays for Future demonstrations popularized the 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg. All around the world young activists are taking (and resuing) their demonstration posters and pleading leading government officials to take action against climate change.

One simple commonality that has connected so many young citizens of the world towards a common goal: their love for nature. At Smart-Yards Co-op, we believe that a strong connection and time in nature is a key to raise awareness about preservation. The love towards our environment as well as the dedication towards its protection is brought on by exposure to the outside world and education on its status of well-being.

In densely populated communities such as the Bay Area, coming across nature may be more difficult than expected and therefore your quickest and easiest way to get to a patch of green may just be your backyard. This was exactly my case. My name is Emilia and I am spending my summer working for Smart Yards Co-op. Our San José native garden with fruit trees and vegetable beds is what replaced green lawn when I was 6. I remember the significant increase of butterflies and native birds right outside my bedroom window after my family had created a native habitat for them.

Our Smart Yard was featured in an award-winning video my older brother and I produced and edited when we were 10 and 12 respectively. We earned the “Community Energy Champions” title in the 2012 Greenlight Film Festival. In it we gave a tour of our sustainable lifestyle at home, which includes four Solar Panels, three different ways to greywater our garden, two native and edible gardens (front and backyard), and one hybrid car for four people. In addition to a zipline that doubles as a clothesline.

Being so close to the native plant and animal species is what elevated my appreciation of nature’s gifts. After taking a working gap year in Chile for a non-profit, I plan to study environmental politics and dedicate my career to the conservation of our beautiful planet for future generations. All this would not have been brought on without my native California garden. It is truly wonderful being able to enjoy the space alongside all sorts of wildlife. Even both of my dogs love savoring the outdoors lying in the shade of the trees or chasing lizards.

Elizabeth Sarmiento