Watauga High students start podcast in quarantine, advocate for climate change

Xanayra Marin-Lopez, Reporter

A group of students at Watauga High School are spending their time at home using their voices for change.

Leadership of the Boone hub of the Sunrise Movement created their podcast “Hot Takes,” to educate listeners on the battle against climate change. Three episodes in, the hosts are excited to share their thoughts and Sunrise’s plans for climate reform.

Sunrise is a youth-led grassroots movement that advocates for political action against climate change. The organization supports the Green New Deal, a congressional resolution aiming to address climate change in the United States and how it impacts economic inequality.

Galen Miller, a student at Watauga High School, speaks about student activism related to climate change on the podcast with his friends.

“Our greatest goal is to find solutions for the climate crisis and push our politicians to implement solutions that not only tackle climate change with the appropriate degree of severity, but create millions of good new jobs in the process,” said Miller. 

The Boone hub of Sunrise was recently seen giving presentations at the High Country Energy Justice Summit and showed their participation at the Boone Climate Strike earlier this year.

The hub meets bi-weekly at Lost Province with presentations and speakers. Based on social distancing guidelines and stay at home orders, the idea of starting a podcast emerged amongst the group.

“We thought that a podcast was a good accessible medium to talk with our current hub members and hopefully gain a bigger audience, and convey ideas that I think might have been a little more difficult to convey in a classic hub setting,” Hockett said.

The hosts meet over Zoom, and record themselves talking for the best audio quality on their podcast. Editor and Watauga High School student Jimmy Brown pieces each recording and picks out the best moments to make the show. 

In their latest episode, the hosts dive into analyzing different political candidate’s climate plans. Episode three, “To Biden or not to Biden,” shows Miller, Eli Hockett and Rebecca Anderson discussing the democratic presidential candidate’s climate action plan and sharing their thoughts on the end of Senator Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign.

The Sunrise Movement showed its greatest support for Sanders as a candidate. In his campaign, Sanders sought to launch the Green New Deal. With his dropping out of the race, Miller said he wants to make a greater push for climate action on local levels.

Miller said Boone Town Council members Nancy LaPlaca, Dustin Hicks and Mayor Rennie Brantz support Sunrise, allowing the movement to exist as a local political presence. 

“In terms of elections, Sunrise plays a role in terms of endorsements. We reserve endorsements for candidates who support the Green New Deal. So we’ve definitely been in national calls and local calls discussing candidates,” said Rebecca Anderson, a student at Watauga and a regular on the podcast.

“Hot Takes” is available for listening on Spotify with more episodes to come.