Luis Raymundo Manchester, New Hampshire
Ninth-grade student, age 15
"I'm legally blind. I can see faces and everything--it's just that if I'm standing up, it's hard for me to focus on the ground and where I'm going, so I use a cane. But that doesn't get in the way of doing my environmental work, because I talk a lot, and that's all people care about.
"My family is from El Salvador, and the Latino Festival in Manchester is a weekend when Latinos share our culture with the city. We cook food and have music and everything. I figured it was a good opportunity to collect postcards for the Sierra Club's Cool Cities Campaign--asking our city to use more energy-efficient practices and low-emission vehicles. My whole family helped out. Even my grandma took a bunch of postcards and explained to people that it would help if they signed one. She speaks both Spanish and English, so if people didn't understand the message in one language, she could explain it to them in the other. My dog, Brownie, came too. He had fun and attracted a lot of people.
"Once we collected the cards, we went to talk to the aldermen at City Hall. They decided that supporting the Cool Cities program was a good idea, and while it may cost money, it will save a lot of money in return. Later our mayor signed on too. The city has already started to use LED [light-emitting diode] traffic lights and to do some of the other things we talked about, so that's really exciting.
"I've been volunteering for the Sierra Club ever since my teacher in middle school invited me to a meeting. I'm often the only young person at the meetings, which is kind of fun--but weird in a way. The best part is the friendship we create. It's like a big family." --interview by Andrew Griffith
EN ROUTE One of the original Cool Cities, Seattle has cut its vehicle fleet's use of fossil fuels by 12 percent since 1999. That has kept 2,900 tons of global-warming pollution out of the air annually--as much as 570 cars emit in a year.
ON THE WEBTo find out how to make your city "cool," go tocoolcities.us. (For a Spanish-language fact sheet on Cool Cities, visitsierraclub.org/ecocentroand select "Ciudades Frescas.") To learn more about the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, the inspiration for the Sierra Club's Cool Cities Campaign, visitseattle.gov/mayor/climate.