Water Justice: Youth future

Date(s) - Saturday 12/12/2020
1:00 pm - 3:00 pm


This event is over but you can find video documentation here.

On Day 2 of the Water Justice Confluence, meet Water Justice Lab’s environmental mentor Sachem HawkStorm, hereditary sachem (chief) of the Schaghticoke People.  Learn about youth water justice actions along the Hudson with Water Justice Lab (Troy, NY), Kingston YMCA Farm Project (Kingston, NY) and Groundwork Hudson Valley (Yonkers, NY).  Join in break-out groups and a facilitated open dialogue with participating youth advocates to inspire future actions!

The Confluence supports dialogue and engagement around water justice with upcoming generations of youth, people of color and Indigenous people.  The goal of the Water Justice Confluence is to build alliances for water justice, environmental justice and youth justice along the Hudson River and beyond… and to inspire concrete future action!

For more information, contact Amanda Cabanillas at  [email protected] or visit https://archive.mediasanctuary.org/event/water-justice-confluence/


Sachem HawkStorm, hereditary sachem (chief) of the Schaghticoke People, is a fierce advocate for the rights of his people as well as other indigenous peoples in the New York region and beyond.

His work focuses on cultural heritage, education, and tribal sovereignty. 

Sachem HawkStorm has participated in the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, focusing on economic and social development, cultural preservation, water and food sovereignty, self-determination, human rights and environmental justice.

He has worked in close partnership with the United Confederation of Taino People, Ramapough Lenape Tribal Nation of New Jersey, and the Golden Hill Paugussett Tribe to strengthen unity among East Coast indigenous relations. In 2018, he attended the International Indian Treaty Conference in Bear Butte, South Dakota. 

Sachem HawkStorm is an advocate for environmental justice and the preservation of indigenous land and waters. He helped lead People’s Climate marches in 2014 and 2017 as well as the Native Nations Rise March in 2017. 


Heather Bruegl is the Director of Cultural Affairs for the Stockbridge Munsee Community. The mission of the Cultural Affairs Department is to protect, preserve and tell the history of the Stockbridge Munsee Band of the Mohican Indians. 

She is a member of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin, is a graduate of Madonna University in Michigan and holds a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in U.S. History. Inspired by a trip to Wounded Knee, South Dakota, a passion for Native American History was born. She speaks to different groups about intergenerational racism and trauma and helps to bring awareness to our environment, the fight for clean water and other issues in the Native community. A curiosity of her own heritage lead her to Wisconsin, where she has researched the history of the Native American tribes in the area. In addition to that she also currently travels and speaks on Native American history, including policy and activism.


Water Justice Lab

In 2020, Media Sanctuary in partnership with Riverkeeper launched the “Water Justice Lab”, a three-year project based in North Troy, NY that will establish a water quality sampling lab and train students in both laboratory science and media arts skills in order to focus on environmental justice issues in the Hudson River Watershed. Three Youth Scientist Fellows from Lansingburgh High School, Genesis Cooper, Gabby Espada and Shansanique Pollack were selected and worked as Water Justice Lab Scientist Mentors to learn laboratory and media skills, with guidance from Media Sanctuary and Riverkeeper staff.

Genesis Cooper, a student at Lansingburgh High School, is in advanced math and science programs, and has been a high honors student since elementary school. Genesis is in various school clubs, and works to help other organizations in her community.Working in WJL, Genesis hopes to help her community understand more things about their own home that they don’t really know about, like local economics, environmental racism, and local politics.

Genesis Cooper’s main focus is to help and educate those around her by volunteering her time. She helps run the Justice4Dahmeek organization that was started by her father, Massiah Cooper. They go around the city and hold events to educate the community on police brutality and inequality in America. Genesis has also volunteered her time at The Sanctuary for Independent Media, and has been an Uptown Summer leader for the summers of 2019 and 2020. In 2019, she ran the face painting table at the Spirit of the Suffragettes concert series and community resource fair  at Freedom Square.  She is thinking about attending Howard University and possibly becoming a teacher. Genesis has interests in many subjects including science and hope to educate the youth on many different topics about the world around them.

Gabby Espada is a ninth grader at Lansingburgh High School. She is in advanced science and top of her math class as well. Gabby enjoys hands-on activities in science, and she’s a very social and outgoing person. She strives for the best and is an extremely determined teen. Gabby likes having her voice heard and making a change. She does as much as possible in school such as: drama club, soccer, volleyball, track and field, basketball, student council, and tutoring. Gabby is a determined teen ready to take on anything that comes her way.  

Gabby Espada has been involved in many movements including: Justice for Dahmeek, suicide prevention movements, and Dance for Donations, She’s also worked with kids and animals. Gabby attends the STEP program at R.P.I and takes architecture and coding there. In Dance for Donations she danced and taught others dances for donations for leukemia. She has experience working with people of all ages.

Shansanique Pollack is currently attending Lansingburgh High School and just graduated 9th grade year with high honors. She is also involved in her school’s advanced programs including advanced science, advanced math, and both Pre AP history and ELA.  As a WJL Fellow, Shansanique is excited to deal with science that could also help the community learn more about what’s around them and help educate the community on what it can do to improve.

Throughout her life, Shansanique has always tried to improve the lives around me in any way possible and to help spread useful information. When she’s older Shansanique wants to be able to use her career to help people in any way possible. She’s hoping to attend Massachusetts Institute of Technology for college and go into computer science, hopefully using computers in new and exciting ways to change communities and people for the better.

Kingston YMCA Farm Crew

The Kingston YMCA Farm Project’s mission is to educate, nourish and connect the Kingston community with our urban farm. Our vision is to use the farm as a way to engage young people in the magical and empowering process that is food production. Children and youth are involved in all aspects of food production and farm care: seeding, transplanting, watering, weeding, harvesting, and ultimately preparing and eating. We have farm stands on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, where we make our produce as accessible as possible to our community. Participants learn how to turn the vegetables they grow into healthy snacks and dishes.

We are committed to racial and economic justice and we are working to create a more equitable food system for all. As we do this, we find different ways for our youth to make change in our community. We have recently started having a Book Club this summer. Since then, we have read Stamped the Remix by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi; as well as How to be an Anti-racist by Ibram X. Kendi. The crew has also done things such as sent letters to elected officials, installed a Say Their Names memorial, painted two utility boxes with antiracist messages, initiated a county-wide Sojourner Truth Day, and more.

Jessica Alonso
My name is Jessica Alonso. I live in Kingston NY and am currently a sophomore in college I have been with the YMCA Farm Project since Fall 2017. Ever since joining the farm I have learned so much; the importance of knowing where your food comes from and shopping local; how systemic racism affects people and other injustices; how to work on a team with peer, how to connect with my natural surroundings; and knowing the important of being self-sustaining. I worked as a youth crew member on the farm, then a youth crew leader, and this Fall I was promoted to a Social Justice Educator. As an educator, my job is to help facilitate complex conversations with our high school aged youth. Our discussions focus on racism, identity, climate change, food insecurity, housing insecurity, etc.

Briana Gary
Hi ! I’m Briana Gary , I’m 19 and I’m a geography major at SUNY New Paltz. I started the Kingston YMCA Project back in 2017. For me it was an interesting opportunity to break away from getting a typical 9-5 job. Over the years being a part of the crew has played a major role in my understanding of what I wanna do in life. Here on the farm I learned not only how to grow vegetables but I learned a lot about food injustice, youth empowerment, community building and I learned how to be an educator. The farm has become my home and I couldn’t imagine doing any other work. My love for geography, education and agriculture has blossomed at the farm . Because of the farm I have found my passion , made friends, and got the opportunity to connect with so many great people doing great things! I love the YMCA Farm Project!!!

Isaiah Pachecco

Y Farm

The Kingston YMCA Summer Youth Crew wrote and created a video called Truth Talk. Truth Talk focuses on what they learned about our history and how to be an anti-racist agent of change.


Groundwork Hudson Valley
Groundwork Hudson Valley creates sustainable environmental change in urban neighborhoods through community-based partnerships that promote equity, youth leadership, and economic opportunity.

The Green Team program hires local teenagers enrolled in the Yonkers Public School system for environmental jobs – for many, their first real job. The program focuses on leadership, group dynamics, and a variety of conservation and construction skills. This hard work is tempered with amazing adventures, like hiking, camping, and swimming.

Diana Acocal, Groundwork Hudson Valley

Diana Acocal grew up in Yonkers, believing that her tiny street was the whole world. Diana is a Junior at Lincoln High School and has participated in various extracurricular programs such as Girls Who Code, The Jump Start Program at Monroe College, an after-school robotics program, and now the Green Team! She values education, appreciates programs that offer opportunities to minorities, and is grateful to the programs she has been a part of for showing her that there is more to the world. The Green Team has been a pivotal tool that has helped her establish a sense of self-empowerment and understanding. She hopes to continue gathering experiences, educating herself about anything (and everything!), and sharing the information that she has learned with others.

Emperatriz Ojeda
Emperatriz Ojeda, Groundwork Hudson Valley

Emperatriz Ojeda is a Junior at Yonkers High School who loves painting with oil paints, knitting, cooking, and taking long walks. Emperatriz seeks new experiences and enjoys trying new things to give her a better understanding of herself. Emperatriz’s love for the environment was born during her time volunteering at the Science Barge. She has since then immersed herself in the changes she can make as an individual within her community. Emperatriz joined the Green Team in the spring of 2020, eager to further explore the world of environmental sciences and excited by the opportunities that Green Team has to offer.



Organized and hosted by Water Justice Lab, a new project of Media Sanctuary’s NATURE (North Troy Art Technology and Urban Research in Ecology) Lab Environmental Education Center and Riverkeeper. The project will establish a water quality sampling lab, educate diverse communities about water literacy and water civics (water issues and how to make a difference), develop the advocacy capacity of the North Troy area, and strengthen a network of environmental justice advocates focused on water issues in the Hudson River Watershed.