Day two was an event-packed day. I started the day cycling alongside a rally raising awareness on air pollution in Bhubaneswar. The rally was packed with youth from multiple schools and everyone was chanting slogans about air pollution and protecting the environment. I enjoy participating in mass demonstrations such as these because they bring attention to the cause and hopefully, encourage community members and government leaders to enact change. Plus, I got to experience the wonderful bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure that the city of Bhubaneswar is investing in. I also have to shout out to the amazing murals painted along the sides of the main roads which adds character to public spaces and makes citizens want to use and maintain it. It was such an upbeat and productive morning for me!
I spent most of the day at the Citizen’s Jury for Youth where we focused on the topics of ‘Air Pollution and Public Health’ and the ‘Future of Electric Vehicles’. We had 17 youth jury members and at least 300 audience members. The engaged youth had the most thoughtful questions and discussions for our expert speakers. I could tell that many of them have witnessed the impacts of climate change and the outcomes of tackling them in different ways. This gave them a unique perspective based on their lived experience and this day-long event gave them the opportunity to think critically about the solutions posed, any disparities and gaps, and how to address them. Truly, what an electrifying event!
In the evening, I cycled on to Cuttack to attend a school event highlighting the impacts of and solutions to air pollution through art, cultural programming, and practical knowledge-building and training sessions for the students on environmental conservation and air pollution. My day ended with an amazing organic waste management/composting workshop with Mission Shakti SHGs. We discussed the potential for organic rooftop farming in India’s urban areas as potential climate action that individuals could take. It is a common practice for many households who do have the space, but more can probably be done by local governments to ensure sustainability in this sphere.
Today allowed me to spend a lot of time with various youth groups and it is very inspiring and uplifting to see the willpower and energy to address the climate crisis, as possessed by this generation. I started this cycle ride to inspire and raise awareness but often, it feels like they are the ones inspiring me. I hope this feeling never goes away.