Despite the enormity of the task she has chosen, Mirella Ramsay is peppy, upbeat and optimistic.
Her enthusiasm is contagious, her outlining of plans punctuated with smiles and laughter.
Ramsay, 18, is taking on climate change.
But her enthusiasm is not born of naiveté.
“Rather than, ‘Hey everybody we’re doomed, good luck,’ why not, ‘Hey everybody we can do something to fix the problem,’” she says.
Her plans were sparked during her first semester of university studies. Before class each day, her geography teacher would provide tidbits of information on what was going on in the world environmentally.
Mirella decided to become an environmental scientist.
But the idea of running her own business soon eclipsed it, one that would incorporate her desire “to be part of the solution, not adding to the problem.”
Soon the idea to have a group dedicated to a specific issue with a set amount of time to come up with a course of action was born. It would be a two-year plan that would include a goal, a research period and an action period.
“Rather than researching for four years and then doing something, it would take six months to a year to start… So what we’ll start seeing is real change, rather than talking about it.”
“We want to re-brand climate change – let kids my age know it’s not impossible to solve. Well it’s a lot of work but we’ll be working together.”
Mirella’s enthusiasm has already ignited a passion in others.
“We have a team of 11 girls absolutely on fire to do this work,” she says, adding one boy just joined them. Members of the youth-led team range from 16 to 20 years.
They are forming seven different groups, each focused on a two-year plan. The topics are: education; proper waste management; plastics; food; renewable energy; industry and habitat.
They’re also open to working with other non profits.
“If someone is doing the same thing, like Shuswap Solar, we’re not going to just do it on our own.”
Regarding education, Mirella says they’ll be going into schools, creating programs for educating youth – how they’re able to save the environment, as well as helping schools reduce their waste and invest in more sustainable futures.
She points out that an 11-year-old messaged her.
“I don’t want the world to be a flaming ball of fire – will you come and talk to my class,” was the message she recounts. “People want a solution but don’t know where to go.”
She gave a two-minute speech to the Rotary Club that was met with a standing ovation.
Mirella points out that small actions can make a difference over the long term.
“I made it my claim to fame that I will only have a drink if I have own mug with me. I want to hold myself accountable…
“I haven’t had a latte a lot of days in a row because I forgot my mug. Do I look famished?” she asks, smiling.
On Saturday, June 15, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Mirella Project will hold a Clothing Shop and Swap at the First United Church GreenSpace, where people will bring in their clothing to shop or sell. For more information, go to www.themirellaproject.com or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mirella says her aim is to have Salmon Arm become an “eco-town,” practices that could then be taken around the world.
Her dedication to the project is unwavering.
“I think what we’re doing, I was put on this earth to do,” she says.
“Our entire goal is to build community through saving the environment. We want to formulate relationships over an issue that requires a lot of attention and really matters.”