Local teen activist launches international climate organization

In a time of unwanted concern and change, many are looking to find stories of hope and resilience among our community. But where is hope? Is it in feel-good moments that leave as soon as we find them, or is it in our neighbors, who like ourselves, are fighting to improve our future as a community?

This group of teenagers is talking about something that we are not: our climate is changing, and we are not doing enough for it. Worse, we are not recognizing the true roots of climate change in our conversations about it.

The Five Dollar Project
Nichole Ruiz

In March of 2020, Nichole Ruiz, a 17 year-old teen from Doral, took the first step. She called her friends from France, Lebanon, and also closer places like Kendall and our city of Doral. Nichole shared her concerns with them, on how she felt that present policymakers were giving empty promises when it came to climate action, and how she was worried about her future in an era of extreme climate crisis if nothing changed.

Nichole created The Five Dollar Project, an international, student-led organization focused on creating disruptive initiatives to address climate change. But what does the disruptive change mean, and how can we get involved?

TFDP team zoom call

“Our team creates projects on climate issues we feel that are not talked enough about and do not have appropriate solutions”, Nichole says. “A lot of adults around us claim to be listening to our concerns and assure us that they are trying their best to do better. We know that this is not true, so we decided to take climate action into our own hands.”

The Five Dollar Project recognizes that communities are disproportionately affected by climate change because of oppressive systems. This limits people from receiving equitable opportunities to live more sustainable lives. It is because of this that Nichole and her team build all of their initiatives around the values of diversity and community empowerment.

“To me, TFDP is a platform that has people get more involved in climate activism”, says Kendall student and team member Mariam Orabi. Ensuring that all people are able to benefit and grow from The Five Dollar Project’s work.

One must recognize the significance of climate change to understand The Five Dollar Project. In recent centuries, society’s shift into industrialization has taken a toll on the natural warming of climate. When humans release exponential amounts of fossil fuels into the atmosphere, we aggravate the intensity of this warmth and quicken the rate of climate change.

From recent eutrophication issues in Biscayne  Bay to a rapid extinction of hundreds of species on a global scale, climate change hurts everyone. Corporations who unethically source and produce their goods are the biggest culprits and benefactors of climate change.

At every level, these polluting industries are subsidized, making it even easier for them to continue worsening our climate. By prioritizing economic growth over living conditions, we have worsened the outcome for ourselves and are now suffering with the consequences.

Motivated by the inequity demonstrated by the immoral practices of large business and policymakers; The Five Dollar Project has counteracted with initiatives of their own. They organized Beach Sweep, a beach cleanup in Miami, raised over $5,300 in COVID-19 relief, organized webinars on under-discussed climate issues, and spoke as climate representatives at international child rights conferences.

 “It’s very inspiring to see all the Instagram posts, Zoom webinars, and volunteer work come to fruition at the event itself,” says Miami team member Jonathan Sarasa. Collectively, the team has engaged over 390 members of the community from 5 continents.

“I think the best part about our team is that we do not let our present conditions limit us”, Nichole says. “Even though many of our teammates don’t live close to Doral, we have been incredibly innovative at expanding our impact on a larger audience.”

The Five Dollar Project is currently focused on raising seed funding for events, recruiting motivated leaders for their core team and short-term events, and growing their community network. Their next projects? A weekend-long international climate seminar in Arabic and English, and a COVID-19 relief campaign in partnership with Ecuadorian indigenous group Organizacion Tukuykunapak, both designed to educate, empower, and enable people internationally.

Leaders in The Five Dollar Project believe that collective climate action that addresses all communities equally is the true answer to our climate crisis. The world is truly in your hands, your actions can determine the future.

For more information, please visit thefivedollarproject.org


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