Exploratorium, Mycelium Youth Network, and Bay Conservation and Development Commission Team Up to Address Sea Level Rise with Youth

Three organizations take a new approach to public involvement in climate resilience


October 8, 2020

Media Contact

San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission
Nahal Ghoghaie

Exploratorium Press Office

Mycelium Youth Network
Lil Milagro Henriquez

SAN FRANCISCO (October 8, 2020)—Three Bay Area organizations—The Exploratorium, Mycelium Youth Network, and San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC)—have announced a unique partnership to help educate and engage local youth on issues related to environmental justice, climate change, and sea-level rise mitigation efforts. These organizational partners are joining forces to create a program that engages young people in the science, political issues, and civic processes involved in responding to climate change and its impacts on infrastructure and people. 

The collaboration of these organizations produced Water Is Life, a program that offers an in-depth analysis of water justice issues with a specific focus on sea level rise, and how sea level rise will impact the entire bay area. Water is Life will be offered to, at minimum, 150 students at several Title I schools around the Bay Area, including Leadership High School and Mission High School in San Francisco, and Elmhurst United Middle School in Oakland. The program engages students to consider the role of water in their local communities, in the context of ancestral traditions, and what the future may hold if nothing is done to address sea level rise. The course will also focus on reading eco-mapping tools, regional policies to address sea level rise, and water technologies such as catchment and purification processes.

On reaching beyond the walls of the museum:  “We are thrilled to be working in partnership with Mycelium Youth Network and BCDC,” said Susan Schwartzenberg, senior artist and curator of the Fisher Bay Observatory at the Exploratorium. “Including young people in the processes and decisions that will directly impact how we deal with the impacts of climate change is essential. Working in our museum isn’t enough—we must reach beyond our museum walls and find ways to connect young people and community members and decision-makers in meaningful dialog about the future of our Bay. Through this partnership, we have a unique opportunity to tackle that problem with a new approach, and help cultivate the space for transformational change as we prepare for sea level rise.” 

On empowering Black and Brown youth: “When we think of climate change, we rarely think of what that will mean on a daily basis for frontline youth. And yet, if we look back on the ancestral traditions of those youth, we can see that many of our cultural traditions were designed to avoid some of the greatest issues of climate change: food scarcity, poor water quality, and air pollution,” says Lil Milagro Henriquez, Executive Director and Founder of Mycelium. “I’m excited that this curriculum recognizes that frontline communities have the tools and resources to support their larger communities.”

On addressing sea level rise with frontline communities: “Students and families in frontline communities will experience rising sea level impacts earlier and more severely than others, so we are thrilled that this collaboration will bring climate change education programs to underrepresented, low-income, and racially diverse schools near the shoreline,” said Nahal Ghoghaie, Environmental Justice Manager at BCDC. “BCDC is very excited to extend our BayAdapt shoreline adaptation collaboration by partnering with the Exploratorium and Mycelium Youth Network. By helping prepare these students and their families to adapt to rising sea level, our three organizations will learn how to better serve the public as a whole.” 

By uniting a regional government agency, a museum, and a youth educational network as a cohesive team, the organizations hope to bring together segments of society that may not have been previously connected, to engage across sectors, and bring new voices to the table in a productive dialogue about the realities and challenges of climate change and mitigation.

Mycelium Youth Network is a non profit organization, founded in 2017 to prepare frontline Black and Brown youth in the Bay Area -- who are most vulnerable to and already feeling the effects of environmental racism -- for climate change. We empower youth to grow as visionary leaders and budding environmentalists, connect with ancestral teachings, and trust in the wisdom of the natural world. 

The San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission protects and enhances San Francisco Bay and encourages the Bay's responsible and productive use for this and future generations. Since the passage of AB 2094 in 2008, BCDC has been the State agency responsible for leading the Bay Area’s preparedness for, and resilience to, rising sea level, tides, and storm surge due to climate change.

The Exploratorium creates learning experiences that ignite curiosity, upend perceptions, and inspire brave leaps forward. Since 1969, the Exploratorium has curated award-winning programs provide a forum for the public to engage with artists, scientists, policymakers, educators, and tinkerers to explore the world around them. We celebrate diversity of thought, inspired investigation, and collaboration across all boundaries.