INTERVIEW: Young activist meets eco-hero

We talk with activist Hannah Alper about changing the world and meeting David Suzuki
David Suzuki and young activists at Planet in Focus 2016 David Suzuki with Hannah Alper (bottom middle) and fellow young activists. (Photo courtesy of Planet in Focus)


Meet 13 year-old Hannah Alper: blogger, activist, motivational speaker. She's been making change since she was 9 years old, and today she's one of the most promising young activists in the country. But even a trailblazer like Hannah knows how helpful a little advice can be!

Especially when that advice comes from environmentalism superstar David Suzuki.

Check out our interview with Hannah, who was one of ten young activists who sat down with David Suzuki at the 17th annual Planet in Focus International Film Festival last week.

Let's hear it from Hannah

Hannah Alper at the 2016 Planet in Focus Film Fest
Hannah was super excited to sit down with David Suzuki and other young activists like her! (Photo courtesy of Planet in Focus)

OWL: Who were you most excited to meet at the festival?

HANNAH: I was really excited to meet ALL of the participants. It was so amazing to sit at the table, not only with David Suzuki, but nine other really phenomenal and accomplished young activists. While we each care deeply about the environment, we all have really different interests and the way that we take action is really different, too.

OWL: What was your question for David Suzuki? Why did you choose it? What was his advice?

HANNAH: I asked about him and his daughter Severn, who was my first role model. She made me realize how important it is for young people to find positive role models, and I know that he was Severn's first role model. My question was two parts: Does being a father make you a better activist or does being an activist make you a better father? AND What is the biggest thing that you taught her and what is the biggest thing that she taught you?

His answers were amazing. He told us stories about Severn from when she was a little girl. He said that as a young boy, he loved going to the zoo—that was how his love for animals and the environment grew stronger. Knowing this, he was so excited to take Severn to the zoo and see the joy in her that he remembered having there.

But it wasn’t like that for Severn. He said that for every enclosure that they visited and for every animal that they saw, she asked him the same question, “How many of them are left, Daddy?” He saw that at such a young age, she understood. But it also showed him how much she must have heard in the conversations he and her mom would have when they would talk to each other about the environment. He saw that Severn understood more than he thought she was capable of at that young age.

He also said that being a father, and now a grandfather, makes it all more urgent. It’s not about him and his world anymore, it’s about them and theirs.

OWL: You’re known for using social media in your activism. What makes social media so useful for spreading change?

HANNAH: Yes, I’m a really big advocate for social media for social change. It’s the best way to reach the most people in the most places. Social media is also a great way to learn about issues and what other people are doing to take action. I follow a lot of people and organizations that inspire me.

OWL: What do you think was the most important message at the festival?

HANNAH: DO SOMETHING. Learn. Share. Take Action.

OWL: What advice do you have for other kids who want to get involved in environmentalism?

HANNAH: The same advice I have for anyone who wants to get involved in making a difference in the world. Find your issue—that thing that you care about and want to change or support. Add your gift—what you are talented or good at [and] use that to take action and make your difference.

You can keep up with Hannah and find out what she's doing next on her blog, Call Me Hannah.


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