The Clean Water Blog

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25th Annual Fall Celebration Awardee Feature: Eben Bein and student leaders

Remember that teacher you loved in high school – the one that believed in you and your power to change the world? What if, as you left the classroom and began a life of activism, that teacher was right beside you, fighting to make a difference?

That’s what it is like to work with Eben Bein. Bein is the New England Coordinator for Our Climate, a national nonprofit that organizes youth to fight for just and equitable climate policy, with a particular focus on carbon pricing.  Bein is also a teacher, who spent six years teaching high school biology, before exiting the formal education system for a broader educational role.

His tireless work as a climate educator is one of the many reasons we are thrilled to honor him and several student leaders with our Grassroots Climate Leadership Award at our 25th Annual Fall Celebration! It is a testament to Bein’s values as an educator that he asked specifically to share this award with students.

At Our Climate, Bein helps high school and college youth take action on climate change. He coaches students, organizes Lobby Days, coordinates events, and works with the media. He supports students to develop their political advocacy skills. 

Like all truly great teachers, Bein does this work with enthusiasm, creativity, and real love for students and the work they are immersed in. 

For the past year, Clean Water Action has been collaborating with Our Climate on efforts to pass a carbon pricing bill in Massachusetts.  The bill we support, H2810 An Act to Promote Green Infrastructure and Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions, introduced by Representative Jennifer Benson (D-Lunenberg) is complex. So, we have done what many nonprofits do: written fact sheets, had briefings, arranged meetings with legislators to explain the specifics of the bill and what it will accomplish.

Bein and youth leaders have done those things too, but with a twist. They go to legislator meetings, but don’t start with bill details. At each meeting, one student is the designated “story teller”, and they describe in personal terms why the bill is meaningful to them. Another student asks for commitment.

In June, Bein and student assembled a 108' whale mosaic on the Boston Common, composed of individually painted, cardboard tiles, each designed by a young person in Massachusetts in response to the prompt: “What do you stand to lose to climate change?”

The two whales in the mosaic affectionately named Karou and Timothy, attracted passersby and got lots of media attention. WBUR did a radio piece and article about the project, and Boston Globe reporter David Abel filmed the event for an upcoming documentary.

Join us in honoring Eben Bein and several student leaders on October 19th, from 2 to 4 pm, in Natick, MA! Information and tickets can be found at www.cleanwater.org/Fall2019MA. See you there!