Meet the 15-year-old hero who just gave the U.N. some real talk about the future of his generation.
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Unilever and the United Nations

A 15-year-old kid from Colorado just walked into the United Nations and dared a group of world leaders to do something about climate change.

His name is Xiuhtezcatl Roske-Martinez, and he's a true teen badass with a badass Aztec name to match. But, to truly appreciate how epically out of left field his speech was, allow me to set the scene...

The United Nations is a majestic place. At least on the outside.



Photo by WorldIslandInfo.com/Flickr.

On the inside, it looks a little like my grandmother's apartment.

She definitely has those chairs. Photo by Eric March/Upworthy.

It is filled with Very Serious and Powerful People who spent the morning addressing each other as Your Excellency...

Figures. Those two always sit together. Photo by Eric March/Upworthy.

...watching a Very Serious Video narrated by Morgan Freeman that featured sad polar bears ('cause we're all a sucker for Morgan Freeman and sad polar bears, even us)...

"Are you a fish?" — a polar bear. Photo by Eric March/Upworthy.

...and spent much of the morning on June 29, 2015, speaking to one another about how climate change is a Very Serious Problem.

They also talked about how world leaders have really got to get around to really, really solving it this time with the climate agreement they're going to make in Paris this year.

And that's good! It's awesome that the UN is pushing world leaders to talk about climate change. And it's good to have goals. Yay, goals.

When Martinez got up, he immediately threw some fuel on the fire.

"In the last 20 years of negotiations, almost no agreements have been made on a bonding climate recovery plan," he said.

Image by the United Nations.

Whoa.

Frustration with the slow place is common and something folks at the U.N. also feel, as even Ban Ki-moon compared the speed of the negotiations to “a snail's pace."

It's not surprising. This fight against climate change is a huge undertaking by a huge group of people. But, Martinez wanted to remind the assembly that urgency is key because the stakes are too high.

Martinez believes that climate change isn't just a moral issue, it's a life-or-death issue.

“What's at stake right now is the existence of my generation," he said in his speech.

He's 100% right. It's great that politicians are thinking about climate change and are getting together to talk about when they're going to talk about what they're going to do about it. But the decisions they're making won't affect them as much as the generations after them.

Kthxbye, hope you like the planet we left you! Photo by Ricardo Stuckert/PR.

Martinez is 15. He and his friends are actually going to have to deal with the consequences of whatever gets decided here.

"We need to reconnect with the earth and end this mindset that we have that we can take whatever we want without ever giving back," he said.

As an accomplished writer, hip-hop artist, climate warrior, and all-around way-too-impressive 15-year-old, Martinez gets invited to speak at a lot of events like this.

This is the third time he's spoken at the U.N. alone. And he knows the drill.

Photo by Patricia Carnevale/Upworthy.

I spoke to Martinez after his speech, and he was characteristically to the point:

"At climate talks, the fossil fuel companies are lobbying in the hallways," he told me. "There are a lot of systems in place that are making it so that we're kind of stuck. ... It's the truth of the message, the voice, the passion I bring against money."

And the politicians who spoke before him at the conference?

"They were all talking about the same thing in a way," he said. "A lot was addressed about needing to take action and wanting to do something, and that's great. But the people are listening are the people in the room, and the world's not listening to them. ... They're not finding ways to relate to this generation."

It may sound like Martinez is a pessimist, but he's not. Not even close.

He just speaks bluntly and from the heart. Because he cares so deeply. And his passion is infectious.

GIF by the United Nations.

"It's reassuring there's a conversation going on," he said. "We have to speed up the conversation. ... Unless we make the right decisions, we're going to wind up with a pretty messed-up planet."

In order to help people make those decisions, Martinez and his organization, Earth Guardians, came up with a list of 50 simple things you can do to start reducing your carbon footprint.

You can try some of them right now! They're really simple.

Every little bit helps the massive global effort Martinez hopes to kick-start with his speech.

And when the nations of the world meet in Paris later this year to draft a new climate agreement, he hopes that this time they'll actually take some serious, no-doubt-about-it action. The U.N. hopes so, too; they gave him a round of applause.

Courtesy of Tiffany Obi
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With the COVID-19 pandemic upending her community, Brooklyn-based singer Tiffany Obi turned to healing those who had lost loved ones the way she knew best — through music.

Obi quickly ran into one glaring issue as she began performing solo at memorials. Many of the venues where she performed didn't have the proper equipment for her to play a recorded song to accompany her singing. Often called on to perform the day before a service, Obi couldn't find any pianists to play with her on such short notice.

As she looked at the empty piano at a recent performance, Obi's had a revelation.

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Using the coding skills she gained at Pursuit — a rigorous, four-year intensive program that trains adults from underserved backgrounds and no prior experience in programming — Obi turned this market gap into the very first app she created.

She worked alongside four other Pursuit Fellows to build In Tune, an app that connects musicians in close proximity to foster opportunities for collaboration.

When she learned about and applied to Pursuit, Obi was eager to be a part of Pursuit's vision to empower their Fellows to build successful careers in tech. Pursuit's Fellows are representative of the community they want to build: 50% women, 70% Black or Latinx, 40% immigrant, 60% non-Bachelor's degree holders, and more than 50% are public assistance recipients.

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I remember being baffled so many people were so convinced of Clinton's evil schemes that they genuinely saw the documented serial liar and cheat that she was running against as the lesser of two evils. I mean, sure, if you believe that a career politician had spent years being paid off by powerful people and was trafficking children to suck their blood in her free time, just about anything looks like a better alternative.

But none of that was true.

It's been four years and Hillary Clinton has been found guilty of exactly none of the criminal activity she was being accused of. Trump spent every campaign rally leading chants of "Lock her up!" under the guise that she was going to go to jail after the election. He's been president for nearly four years now, and where is Clinton? Not in jail—she's comfy at home, occasionally trolling Trump on Twitter and doing podcasts.

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Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

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via @Kingkeraun / Twitter

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With the election quickly approaching, the importance of voting and sending in your ballot on time is essential. But there is another way you can vote everyday - by being intentional with each dollar you spend. Support companies and products that uphold your values and help create a more sustainable world. An easy move is swapping out everyday items that are often thrown away after one use or improperly disposed of.

Package Free Shop has created products to help fight climate change one cotton swab at a time! Founded by Lauren Singer, otherwise known as, "the girl with the jar" (she initially went viral for fitting 8 years of all of the waste she's created in one mason jar). Package Free is an ecosystem of brands on a mission to make the world less trashy.

Here are eight of our favorite everyday swaps:

1. Friendsheep Dryer Balls - Replace traditional dryer sheets with these dryer balls that are made without chemicals and conserve energy. Not only do these also reduce dry time by 20% but they're so cute and come in an assortment of patterns!

Package Free Shop

2. Last Swab - Replacement for single use plastic cotton swabs. Nearly 25.5 billion single use swabs are produced and discarded every year in the U.S., but not this one. It lasts up to 1,000 uses as it's able to be cleaned with soap and water. It also comes in a biodegradable, corn based case so you can use it on the go!

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