When Jamie Margolin was just 14 years old, she started lobbying for climate change reform in Olympia. She wanted policy makers to take greater initiative to protect the planet, and her dissatisfaction only grew when she reached Washington’s capital. “These people weren’t doing anything,” she says. “Actually, they were doing something. They were making the problem worse.”
Now 17, Margolin is the co-founder of Zero Hour, a youth-led organization launched in 2017 that brings climate change to the forefront through what Margolin calls “a youth battle cry.” In July of 2018, Margolin and her team — most of whom she connected with online — traveled to Washington, DC, to march for climate change. The group crammed into a house donated by an ally and furiously planned and gathered participants. Two weeks later, over 100 teens marched on the National Mall through the rain in the first Youth Climate March. It was just the statement of solidarity Margolin was looking for. “We were in this together,” she says.
While the Zero Hour executive team is led by 11 teens, Margolin wants the movement to be intergenerational. She says that supporters of all ages have reached out through email and social media wanting to be part of the Zero Hour mission. Four adult mentors are on staff at Zero Hour, “to make sure we don’t get taken advantage of,” to provide advice, and to sign contracts — a process that sometimes poses a roadblock when the majority of the staff is under 18.
With Margolin’s 9,000-plus followers on Twitter, features in the The New York Times, and over 40 partner organizations, Zero Hour has skyrocketed. Now Margolin is reflecting: She signed a book deal this past November and is planning to write a guide for youth activists titled Youth to Power. Margolin wants to pave the way for other teens to start their own movements. “It’s going to be everything I wish I had,” she says.