City Climate Corner

Youth Episode - Goshen IN

Episode Summary

We interview now college freshman Dylan Steury about his role, and the role of young people in general, in Goshen climate action. Hear about how he and his peers presented to City Council and got their unanimous support.

Episode Notes

We interview now college freshman Dylan Steury about his role, and the role of young people in general, in Goshen climate action. Hear about how he and his peers presented to City Council and got their unanimous support.

For more information and links check out episode 5.

Episode Transcription


Larry Kraft  00:02

I'm Larry Kraft.

Abby Finis  00:04

And I'm Abby Finis. This is City Climate Corner where we explore how small and midsize cities are tackling climate change and moving toward an equitable and sustainable future.

Abby Finis  00:19

So, on today's episode, we are visiting the city of Goshen, Indiana, which if you are driving across the northern part of Indiana on I-90, it's about halfway through the state, and you will see a sign that indicates that it is the RV capital of the world. How did we end up in Goshen?

Larry Kraft  00:43

Well, I reached out to a friend of mine that runs a nonprofit, Earth Charter Indiana. And I was originally thinking we would be talking about a different city in Indiana and was asking for contacts. And he said to me, you know, based on what you all are doing, you should really think about Goshen. There's some amazing stuff going on there. And so he connected me to Paul Steury, who is the father of Dylan's Steury who we’re talking to.

Abby Finis  01:17

You know, I really enjoyed this conversation with Dylan, I think he has a lot of really good energy and brings the wisdom of the youth to conversation. One of the things I think that stood out to me is just how young people more and more are just aware of the climate impacts that are happening in their community. And he talks about having a couple of 500-year floods within a span of a few years and how that drives them to work with their city council, and I just, you know, continue to be impressed with young members of these communities.

Larry Kraft  01:50

Absolutely. I also was interested to hear how he and his friends organized together and put together stuff. Yeah, I think you underestimate youth at your peril.

Abby Finis  02:02

For sure. All right. Well, let's listen to Dylan

Larry Kraft  02:05

Let's do it. 

Start of interview

Larry Kraft  02:08

So we're here with Dylan Steury of Goshen, Indiana. So hi, Dylan, we'd like if you could start by introducing yourself. Tell us a bit about you. Be great. 

Dylan Steury  02:19

Yeah hi, I'm Dylan Steury. I'm from Goshen, Indiana. And I'm 18. I've been interested in like, climate change and stuff for a while, mostly in part when I was younger, to this guy sitting right next to me, my dad. But over time, you know, as I got older, I got more interested, you know, luckily, I went to a school that really actually talked about these topics, and didn't just like brushed them off. I always saw I also was lucky enough to have him as my seventh grade science teacher. So that helped. And of course, you know, there's the internet, the internet kind of just like, blew up when I was growing up. So I had like, all of a sudden, this infinite source of information that I could draw from. So I just started to realize, like, Oh, this is not a problem that can just be easily brushed off to the side. You know, it's, it's something that has caused problems, like societal and health problems, and it's going to cause more, you know, it's one of the it's like impending doom. And what do you do when you see an impending doom? You don't just stand there, yet you try to do something to stop it.

Abby Finis  03:25

Great. And why? Why do you think it's important for youth to be involved in the effort to raise awareness around taking action on climate change?

Dylan Steury  03:35

Number one, it is very important for us to be involved in the action against it, because we're inheriting the place where that's being affected. And I mean, I don't think anyone wants to live in, you know, a world that kind of looks like Mad Max. You know, I like that's one main point that I push when talking to people my age, I'm like, Hey, this is our place that we're getting next. Like, I mean, the people older than us aren't always going to be here. It's going to be ours. Next, do we want to live here? And do we want to have our kids and our grandkids living in that as well? My dad taught me like thinking about the seventh generation, when I was very young. So you always think like, two or three generations ahead of yourself, you know, you've never just like thinking about, oh, like, because I mean, that's what that's what got humanity into this problem in the first place was only thinking about that time, those people in the now not thinking about the future, and the later generations. And number two, it is very important for you to get into the discussion because we can convince older people pretty well. You know, it's one of those little cheeky things that we have going for us we are older people tend to feel bad for us. So they will they will vote in our favor. Usually, it gets the job done. So no, it's it's all for the greater good. So they really see that. Oh, yeah, this is there's one of the points that people have made to me when I'm speaking. Older people is like you made me They realize like, Oh, I have grandchildren here and they're gonna get this like it's it's doing it for them. It's a very family oriented topic when speaking about it.

Larry Kraft  05:11

So true. So Dylan, how have you interacted with the city with Goshen? Have you been involved with stuff going on there?

Dylan Steury  05:20

Yeah. So again, thanks to my dad, I've pretty much always been involved, you know, river cleanups and stuff canoeing down a local Elkhart river, just pulling out various trash, which there's some bizarre stuff in there sometimes. I think the weirdest thing was like a, like a huge oil drum. And I don't even know where it came from. That's, besides the point, you know, been doing stuff like that. And then my sophomore year of high school, there was this youth caucus started at our high school. And originally just to get like people involved in more like the government, you know, getting to know stuff. And then there was a position implemented called the youth advisor in our city government, like they get a legitimate seat, at like City Council, they get a name plaque and everything, it looks pretty official. The only thing is they don't get to vote, but they can definitely like weigh in on conversations and try to swing people. So they're basically supposed to bring the voice of the youth forwards. So my sophomore year, I joined that it wasn't really much it was you know, as like the baby phases, there's still like learning to crawl, you know, beginning to walk. Then my junior year was when it really started to take stride. 

A good friend of mine, Felix Perez Diener, he was the youth advisor, we were like, okay, let's sit down and come up with a good idea on what we should do for this year. So we sat down with I think, at the time, it was all like 30 to 40 of us in our gym. And we're like, Okay, guys, what should we do, we'll take a vote. And it was, it was a pretty strong favoring coming up with like a climate resolution. You know, something that like, try and better our city leave a mark. Especially because you know, there's a bunch of seniors that were graduating. Next thing I knew I graduated, but it was something to leave a mark on the city in a change forgetting. We started out on that we talked to the mayor. And he came in talk to us, and he really wanted to be youth driven. So the resolution other than like light edits, and making sure all the legal things were right, was completely written by us students. We went into it. It was written, we're like, oh, my gosh, we're so nervous. So we got to the city council meeting, hoping that it passes at least, we have like a whole presentation that we've been practicing for, like the past week. So we all present, we want to make sure it actually sure what to expect from the results. Even the mayor wasn't sure at all. And luckily, it got passed unanimously. So that was that was really cool. That was really cool. There's now a copy of it hanging up in the high school with all of our huge signatures, making sure everyone can see them. And there's also you know, it's now implemented into the city. 45 by 45, is what we called it and resolution 45% tree canopy by 2045. It's one of the goals of the city. So they're already making doing that, planting more trees around. Because more trees, less costs in heating, or cooling. That's it's just, it's really cool to see that all coming together. And I really like I want to do more this year. But of course, or I guess it would be last year bardiya semester in college. That's bizarre. I want to do more, unfortunately, got cut short, because of COVID and everything. But yeah, I'm really happy with what happened that year. And I hope like this coming year and years in the future, that my contributions and my friends contributions can help lead more activities and resolutions and, you know, other stuff that helps out the city in the future.

Abby Finis  08:59

That's really awesome. Are there more students who are kind of filling in behind you who are kind of picking up the torch and carrying that forward?

Dylan Steury  09:08

Yeah, I'd say so. There was a few younger kids in the youth caucus out here. So they've definitely, you know, picked up the torch a bit. You know, it's been a bit of a hectic year to say the least. So they're trying their best. Also, luckily, we have my little brother who's going into high school now he's a freshman. I think he'll gladly go into that with open arms. And basically, you know, at least at least I want to think he'll pick up where I left off. Me and my friends left off with him and his friends. So it's cool to have like a bunch of younger siblings who are, you know, going in and can kind of take your place. That's right.

Abby Finis  09:45

Yeah. Beyond the tree planting. Is there anything else that came out of that resolution? What's happened with some of the other elements?

Dylan Steury  09:53

Yes, we wanted to make sure that it wasn't just like oh, be green. Like it's not just like a blanket statement, but like ways to do it. One of the things that we really wanted to make sure is like, okay, understand what is coming out of Goshen because Elkhart county and northern Indiana in general is notoriously, well, not even notoriously, we're like the basically the world capital of RV manufacturing. You know, that's not exactly the cleanest thing in the world, which is, which is where like a lot of our lot a lot of our emissions come from is the RV industry. So we wanted to make sure we know what's coming out of those factories, because of course, there's certain standards, but there's also leeway and stuff. And we really want to make sure that we can tackle that. So we proposed a greenhouse gas survey, which is, it happened, right? Yeah, it happened this past summer. That tells us so much already. What's coming out of this factories, what we can do better to mitigate them. It wasn't necessarily in the I guess it was kind of in the resolution was more broad. It was like helping industries and businesses find cleaner ways to do things. basically. It was more, it was one of our more blanket statement. things within the resolution, except I like elaborated more in the presentation. 

So as I said, there's a bunch of industrial and manufacturing infrastructure here. You can't just shut that down, because that would leave 1000s and 1000s of people out of jobs, you know, you have to think of a way around that. And I proposed, hey, you have all this infrastructure here, you have all the manufacturing plants, you could just switch to producing renewable energy parts instead. Because Lippert components, a very big, big company just down the street from us. They produce RV parts. And it's basically the same process as producing other parts, like solar panels or you know, wind turbines. And so I brought that point up, I said, it's actually like, it's definitely more economically sound for you to do this. It'll cost you less money and make you more money in the long run. Coincidentally, a few months later, Lippert components started manufacturing solar panel components after that speech. I like to take some kind of credit.

Larry Kraft  12:09

You getting a commission Dylan?

Abby Finis  12:10

Yeah, right.

Dylan Steury  12:13

Um, no, but it's cool, just to see that those ideas are actually being taken seriously within the community.

Goshen floods

Larry Kraft  12:21

That's great. So as I was doing some research on Goshen, I noticed that one of the, it appears one of the impacts that's been seen there is some serious flooding over the past several years. Is that true? Have you experienced that? What are your thoughts on that? 

Dylan Steury  12:36

Flooding, yes, that is a very real problem now. So for the past two winters actually. There's been serious floods, two 500 year floods. So then the first one...

Larry Kraft  12:49

In two years? 

Dylan Steury  12:50

Yeah in two years, two 500 year floods it's insane. Which makes you think just like, think like, how do people not realize this is being caused by climate change? Like, if you say 500 year floods, but they're same, but like, just years apart? It's like, okay, whatever. I guess we'll just have to have another one to prove it to you. Hopefully not. Because we're going into the winter right now. And the year has already been crazy enough. But yeah, no, we live on the water actually, on the local pond. So you know, we see firsthand the flooding. We got, I think it was like two inches from our basement flooding. And like our neighbor's basements were flooding. Heaters ruined and stuff like that. So there's also a lot of mobile home parks within the Elkhart County area. And Goshen area, especially. One of them completely flooded. They had to go in by boats and rescue people, bring them out, have them up in churches and other places that were just housing people, you know, having other families houses, entire neighborhood flood. And that made school shut down for a week and a half or something almost two weeks. Yeah. And kids still weren't showing up after that just because they didn't have anywhere to go or stay. And it was it was really tough time. 

And then it happened the next year again, which also led to a crazy fog that close school for like another week. It's just it's, it's been crazy to see the impacts that it has. The first year it's snowed a lot, a lot, a lot that year, and then all of a sudden there was a really warm day. It all melted and it started raining. And just I think it was like, probably, I want to say at least like 75% of our streets were closed, just like completely flooded with water. Yeah, the school is taken on water and like that's a higher place in the community to it's like it's not even like a low area. But it was it was really insane just to see that as well as people that I know just being impacted. By that, as well. And also looking out in my backyard and seeing the water just creeping up towards our door. Yeah, it's it's definitely like a scary revelation to see happening within your community.

Larry Kraft  15:16

What do you, what are you doing now in school?

Dylan Steury  15:18

Currently I am home, but I attend UC Berkeley. I'm majoring in bioengineering. Yeah, so that's what I'm doing at my parents call it the UC Berkeley - Goshen campus.

Abby Finis  15:33

Yeah, a little bit cooler.

Dylan Steury  15:36

Exactly. So I've been doing a lot of video calls over the past semester, sitting in my room a lot. Gets kind of tedious sometimes, but you know, it's, it's definitely it's still good education. It's definitely better than what I thought it would be. To say the least I'm excited to you know, it's it's a new, it's a whole new journey. And it just, you know, makes me so much more excited to when I can finally get out there. But for the most part, it's really fun. You know, getting to take classes that literally just blow my mind sometimes in comparison to you know, rural Indiana. Education sometime. Yeah, it's, it's just a crazy shift in thinking.

Larry Kraft  16:18


Abby Finis  16:19

Can't imagine.vYeah,

Larry Kraft  16:20

I tell you, I can't imagine what you've experienced as a high school senior with COVID and then starting school during that time, so

Dylan Steury  16:32

Yeah, it's been a little crazy to say the least. But it's been it's been it's been an experience, one that I will probably never forget.

Larry Kraft  16:40

All right. Thank you. Anything else you want to tell us?

Dylan Steury  16:44

It's been? It's been interesting. It's been an interesting year. Interesting time in Goshen. As you know, I just hope that good can come out of what I did.

Abby Finis  16:55

Yeah, it sounds like it has.

Dylan Steury  16:56

Thank you.

Abby Finis  17:01

We hope you enjoyed this episode of City Climate Corner. If you like what you're hearing, make sure to subscribe and give us a review if you're able to become a monthly supporter through Patreon. As always, you can find more information on this topic and resources from each episodes guests on our web page city climate if you have an idea for the show, send us an email at City climate or find us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Larry Kraft  17:25

Sydney climate corner is produced by Abby finnis and me Larry Kraft, edited by me music by

Abby Finis  17:31

King gizzard and the lizard wizard.

Larry Kraft  17:33

Thanks for listening, and we'll see you next time.