South grad Aletta Brady awarded for her work with climate injustice


Yasemin Isaacs

We are currently in the midst of a historical climate movement, Aletta Brady and her team at Our Climate Voices is doing their part to spread the message of personal stories in a sea of numbers and statistics. One person’s story can make a big difference in a movement largely dominated by one people group.

Yasemin Isaacs, Staff Writer

From a pool of 1,300 applicants, South High graduate Aletta Brady was the recent recipient of the JMK Innovation award for the founding of her project, “Our Climate Voices”. 

The prize is presented by the Jacob Merrill Kaplan (JMK) fund, which helps promote environmental, social, and cultural causes through grants. In 2015, JMK started the Innovation Prize. It helps support smaller entrepreneurs working for social and environmental change. 

The awardees get the chance to participate in a “learning collaborative of fellow innovators”, and receive up to 175,000 dollars to help kickstart their journey as entrepreneurs. 

Brady’s project, called Our Climate Voices, is a collection of stories about climate change and how it affects everyday life. The project highlights underrepresented voices in the climate change movement, such as LGBTQ+, disabled, indigenous, and other minority stories. 

Brady has long been involved with activism, especially when it comes to her community. “This work for me has always been about people, and making sure that we are creating communities that are safer for our friends, family, and community members,” said Brady. 

Our Climate Voices’ Outreach Director Kia Johnson elaborated on the importance of personal voices in the climate movement. “A lot of what you see is about polar ice caps [melting] but that’s there, and stories are here, close to home,” said Johnson. We tend to hear about numbers and statistics, but when we hear stories from actual people, it helps humanize the movement. It can also help us see the world through someone else’s eyes. 

The climate movement has for a long time, and still struggles with being dominated by more privileged activist groups. By showcasing minority stories, Our Climate Voices helps provide a seldom heard perspective when it comes to the climate movement. “A lot of people are left out of traditional environmental conversations…It’s not an intersectional conversation,” explained Brady. 

She explained that climate change brings other social injustice issues to light. “Heat waves and what that means for someone with asthma, or someone who can’t afford air conditioning,” said Brady. It goes to show that climate change affects different types of people in different ways. She elaborated that to help the climate crisis, we need to think about the “systems that lead to vulnerability in the first place, and how that can leave those without resources unprepared to deal with the effects of climate change.”

In high school, Brady participated in regular school walkouts during the Iraq war, as well as working with the Silver Ribbon campaign and Stand Up Speak Out. She encourages young people to stand up for what they believe in, no matter what the cause. 

It doesn’t matter what you are doing, whether its fighting for the rights of your culture or race, your voice, or the environment, Brady hopes that you find a way to connect it back to your community.