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The Gordon School

Solutions are within reach

Keeping hope in the conversation about climate change

Hands were in the air right away as Peter Milne began his presentation to Young Kindergarten, first grade and fourth grade this morning.


Peter is the creator of the Beyond COP21 Symposium, a day of learning about climate change and environmental justice which will be coming to Gordon tomorrow. 

Today, Peter is meeting with other grades at Gordon, presenting a series of age-appropriate conversations about conservation, reuse, international relations and civil rights.

This first talk was about trash - “rubbish” to Peter, who is from the UK - and students were drawn in immediately by Peter’s talk, which drew in the difference between “want” and “need”, the impact of pollution on wildlife, and a peek behind the curtain to see what happens to recycled materials.

Then, he challenged students to create solutions - in this case, to propose re-uses for some common household trash.

He included waste that goes to landfills, but also waste that’s commonly recycled.


Reuse, the students had learned, requires less resources than recycling.


Students got to work, and they worked hard.

Milne’s workshops always include time for students to propose solutions to a challenge.


The aim is to help them navigate around the darkness and frustration that often pops up in conversations about the environment.


The problems are challenging, but there are ways to solve these problems.


Some we have tried. 


Some we still haven’t imagined.

Some require some explanation.


Some will ask us to listen.

Some of them are more practical than others.


Some will be more effective than others.

But these simple lessons held throughout the room:


These problems have solutions...


These solutions are within our reach...

And these students can be at the center of these solutions.



Young Kindergarten sat in on the trash workshop because they just began an extended lesson on collecting, measuring, and tallying trash around the campus, with the hope of discovering ways to eventually reduce waste at Gordon.

The second workshop of the day was on the importance of water, with second and third grade. Parents should ask their Gordon student how to pronounce “water” with a British accent.

This afternoon, fifth and seventh grades will roleplay various global communities and make choices about which of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals are the most - and least - relevant to them.

Then, the eighth grade will examine case studies from around the globe and explore the concept of children’s environmental rights and how young people can advocate for other young people worldwide.

Tonight at 6:30, Milne will present to parents and caregivers in a presentation that is free and open to the public. 

Tomorrow, Gordon fifth and sixth graders will host students from eight local independent and public schools for a day of workshops and presentations from artists, activists, scientists and community organizers. Speakers will include Senator Whitehouse, Senator Reed and Congressman Cicilline.

More on tonight’s presentation and tomorrow’s symposium at


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