This year’s Young Authors’ Book Project, our biggest publication and classroom collaboration of the year, features essays from students at John O’Connell High School. Over the course of five weeks with the help of 826 tutors, ninth- and tenth-graders in an integrated English and biology class reflected upon human impact on the environment and the changing course within ecosystems. The result: a unique and profound collection titled Walk the Earth in Our Shoes & Plants Some Seeds Behind You.
The collection of essays explores various aspects of surrounding ecosystems, from climate change, to the California drought, to the gentrification of San Francisco’s Mission district, home to many of our featured authors. As the student editorial board writes:
“A lot of the topics and ideas in this book are directly or indirectly inspired by San Francisco’s Mission neighborhood, where many of us live. This neighborhood is changing every day. This is a neighborhood where many of our families, many of them Latino, grew up and lived for a long time. The changes are complicated – some are good, some are bad. There’s less gang violence and the neighborhood has gotten safer, but the changes have also displaced a lot of the longtime residents because rents are increasing. One thing we’ve learned, through the process of researching and writing this book and from our own firsthand experiences, is that change is inevitable. But we believe that we should use change as a motivator to better ourselves and to work hard for our families and our futures.”
In the book, the young authors shed light on environmental and social issues through personal experiences and research. Their work highlights the importance of taking action, whether it be by recycling, by conserving water, or by supporting local businesses in a time of change.
The book features a forward by Joya Banerjee, 826 Valencia Board member and Program Officer at S.D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation where she works towards the advancement of sustainable California water resources. It also features a comprehensive curriculum guide for educators, including the prompts used to inspire these essays, activities for interacting with the text, and alignment with current English and Biology content standards. Walk the Earth in Our Shoes & Plant Some Seeds Behind You is scheduled for release on Wednesday, May 18. Please join us in celebrating the work of our student authors!