And a patch of green at Potrero and 17th Street.

Reaching across cultural and language barriers, immigrant students at the San Francisco International High School have compiled profiles of individuals working to solve a problem the students are personally affected by or interested in. This group of change makers is  protecting the environment and fighting climate change.

Michele Palmer

Our group interviewed Michele Palmer about environmental pollution. She is from Brazil. She has been working for two years on this topic . She works for Friends of the Urban Forest. She plants trees and takes care of the trees all around San Francisco – mostly on the sidewalks. Michele gives information to many people about planting trees and how to take care of trees.

More About Our Change Maker Michele showed us how her work changes the world when she explained that trees give the oxygen back into the atmosphere and take in carbon, which helps with air pollution. Also, by planting gardens, flowers and trees soak up the water and filter it out so it’s cleaner when ends up in our Bay.  “I think this problem can change,” she said. “I think if that people really work hard at it and change their attitude around the environment and around pollution, things could change, but it will take a lot of hard work.’’

Authors:  Jennifer, 16,  is from Guatemala. Marvyn, 18,  is from Guatemala. Denis, 18,  is from Guatemala. Ivania, 14, is from El Salvador.

Daisy Pistey-Lyhne

Our group interviewed Daisy Pistey-Lyhne. She is from Sonoma County, but she has worked in Washington D.C. She has been working for four years around the issue of climate change, and has been working for twelve years on environmental issues. Right now she is a consultant who works with foundations and organizations to help them think about strategies to solve climate change.

More About Our Change Maker Daisy spoke with us about her work at Greenbelt Alliance and the Alliance for Climate Education organizations. She chose this problem because she lived in the forest and she lived across the street from a creek, so the environment was always part of where she lived and she understood that she was connected to it. As she got older, she learned how humans hurt the environment.

Daisy Pistey-Lyhne wants people help to solve climate change by reducing the amount of carbon that they burn, for example by by reducing their electricity use, or if you can change your method of transportation to something better, great! You should do everything possible in your home, community, or city and remember that to solve climate change every second is important, so let’s start from now!

Authors:   Norma Jeronimo, 18, is from Guatemala. Stefany Castillo , 17,  is from El Salvador.  Jorge Temaj, 18,  is from Guatemala . Lorenzo Cruz, 17,  is from Mexico.

Colin Miller

Colin Miller lives in Oakland. His job is to help create clean energy jobs in Oakland and the East Bay. He works at two organizations. One organization is Bay Localize, the other is the Local Clean Energy Alliance. Both organizations are a part of coalitions of lots of people and organizations working together. He also coordinates the Clean Energy & Jobs Oakland Campaign. They work on stopping pollution, advancing environmental, economic, and climate justice and building equitable community resilience.

More About Our Change Maker

“Many people are more interested in making money than taking care of people’s health or our future.”

Colin said that one of the hardest things about his job is interacting with some people who don’t have an imagination about how things can be different because they are more interested in making money than taking care of people’s health or a future.

What You Can Do To Help

Buy local goods. Choose environmentally friendly cleaners. For more information go to


Leslie, 16, is from Mexico. Julio, 17,  is from El Salvador. Sunny, 16,  is from China. Brenda, 17, is from Mexico.

Susan Roberta Katz


Susan Katz is from Pennsylvania, in the United States. She is a professor at the University of San Francisco. She has worked on environmental pollution in Ecuador for four years. She believes a lot of her work is through her teaching. She doesn’t work with an environmental organization but she feels she makes change through her teaching. She teaches about Human Rights Education in the graduate School of Education.

More About Our Change Maker Our group was inspired by what Susan Katz said about her experience in Ecuador. In 2010, she went to Ecuador for the first time to do research on bilingual education in the Amazon and then she learned about oil pollution in the Amazon. She said the oil company Texaco came to Ecuador in the 1960’s to drill for oil. They started drilling and they didn’t follow any rules. They drilled for oil and took the waste and put it in the rivers. The government didn’t care about it because sometimes in a poor country the government wants to get money from other countries. Also, the people who were affected were an indigenous community, so the government didn’t pay attention. From working with the company, some people in the Amazon became rich, but most of the people were so poor. People got cancer, skin problems, and the food that was coming from the Amazon was contaminated. The animals were dying; they were covered in oil so they got diseases. A whole group of native people even died because of the pollution. We were so shocked to learn about a whole group of native people who died. We want to teach other people and show them this example so they know this is happening and remind them the native people could be us or our families or our communities. So we all should support the people who are affected by the pollution and prevent this kind of environmental tragedy.


Diego, 16,  is from El Salvador. Akbor, 17,  is from Bangladesh. Alex, 17,  is from Guatemala. Weicai, 15,  is from China.

Abby Hall

Abby Hall is from San Francisco and works for the government in the Environment Protection Agency. She has worked or five years to help people to drive less and walk more.

More About Our Changemaker

“Breathing in polluted air can be hard on people who have asthma, cough, or have heart problems,” said Hall. “Part of why I do this work is because it connects to public health.” She loves this job because she can help people by improving the environment, make people live better and improve people’s health. That is important to people who have asthma or cough, because air pollution makes those people feel worse.

Student Group  Derek, 15,  is from China – Guang Dong. Ervin, 18,  is from Guatemala. Andrew, 16, is from China – Guang Dong. Maynor, 14, is from Honduras.

Wen Lee

Biography Our group interviewed Wen Lee. She is from Los Angeles. Right now she lives in Oakland. She works at ACE, an alliance for climate education. She has worked at ACE for two years. Her work is visiting schools and talking to students about the environment and climate change. She visits different schools and give presentations with videos. She wants students to know about climate change and what they can do about it.

More About Our Change Maker

“I care about this problem because we only have ONE earth! And we are doing a lot of activities that are making the earth less healthy. This makes climate change the No. 1 most important problem in the world. There are so many problems, lots of problem in the world you know… hunger, illness, poverty, war, violence. But everything depends on the earth. So, if the earth is not healthy and if the climate is getting worse, there will be more hunger, more violence and everything will get worse. That is why I think this problem is most important and I want to do a job where I can tell people about this. ”


Zette, 16,  was born in SanFrancisco,  but lived half of her life in Japan. Manuel, 17,  is from El Salvador. Carolina, 15, is from Guatemala.  Hazuki, 16, is from Japan.

Chris Van Dyke

 Chris Van Dyke is from Connecticut but he went to college in San Francisco. He works at Tesla Motors, a car company that makes electric cars. He has worked at this car company for about 4 years. He designs equipment for charging cars and charging stations to make sure they work well, are safe, and are not too expensive.

More About Our Change Maker Chris said that “people in general should take pollution more seriously, because the problem is that in the short term nothing happens to you, you can stand next to a car that is putting a lot of pollution and you may breathe it and it may smell bad and maybe could give you headache but probably not even that. Its a little gross but not a big deal and you do not think about it, but if you do that over and over again you could get sick or not be able to run too fast. Its hard for people to take that seriously, because they have the experience where they think its not a big deal. But if you add it all up its a big deal. I want people to think about things in long term, and not just the in short term.’’


Steve, 18,  is from Mexico. Ferris, 15,   is from China. Donal, 17,  is from Guatemala.  Allan, 18, he is from Honduras.

Josh Bushinsky

Josh is from New York. He works as a lawyer in downtown San Francisco. He has worked as a lawyer for three years and he has worked on environmental issues for 12 years. He works as a lawyer for a company that helps people put solar and wind energy projects together.

More About Our Change Maker Josh loves his job because he wanted to make the world better, and when he was in college, he took a lot of classes about pollution and the environment. He realized climate change was a real problem that affects everybody so he wanted to work to help prevent climate change and reduce pollution. Josh told us this is a big problem, but is one that we can solve if we all work together, and pass the right laws. It is a hard problem because it affects everything and everybody. Josh thinks the most important thing for us is to learn how to talk to other people about climate change and the environment.


Yahya, 17, is from Yemen. Yenifer, 18,  is from El Salvador. Silin, 16, is from China. Jacobo, 14,  is from EI Salvador.

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